No-one enjoys preparing for a pay review. But a little work goes a long way, and it can be very literally well-worth putting some time aside to discuss your achievements and contributions to the organisation, and as a follow on, your financial compensation.
First, take some time for self-reflection. Evaluate your performance, accomplishments, and contributions to the company. Have you streamlined, improved or automated any processes?
Have you very directly brought in more revenue or cost savings? Have you made your manager’s life easier?
Note the impact of your work, and also any additional skills or qualifications you’ve acquired since your last review.
Do your own research
It’s all well and good to go into a meeting and demand X, Y and Z, but you really need to ground your asks in reality. Yes, research salary benchmarks considering level, experience, location and industry on Glassdoor, but consider your total comp too. Equity, benefits, bonuses, flexible working and perks are all outside your salary but can make a big difference to your overall work satisfaction.
Think about how well the company is doing also. If this information isn’t transparent, look for the financials online. You may need to pay for a detailed report, but total net assets, total liabilities and even annual accounts are often available for free.
Have a test conversation, or two
Ask a clued-in friend or family member to practise your pay review conversation with you. Encourage them to play devil’s advocate and challenge you when you speak about your achievements and contributions, and the value you bring.
After your faux review, ask for feedback on your tone, proposition and body language and use this to improve your approach. It will be awkward but you’ll learn a thing or two.
Time it right
Some organisations conduct annual reviews around the same time every year – often in Q1, while others conduct them yearly after your start date. If you’re there less than a year, ask HR what the process usually is, and allow yourself plenty of time to prepare.
Early practice can sometimes feel like an argument, but remember, it’s a conversation. The longer you sit with your proposition, the more natural it will flow.
No manager wants to listen to a 30-minute lecture about how brilliant you are. Show your interest in the company, its progress, its challenges, and look at the longer-term view by asking insightful, well-researched “we” and “us” questions.
For example: How are we going to leverage gen AI as our scope expands? What markets are the big focus for us in the next quarter? Your manager may not have all the answers on the spot but that’s not the point. The point is to be invested, interested––and well rewarded.
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