It’s hard not to feel small going into a performance review. You feel like you’re being judged by the powers that be and, well, that’s because you are. But that doesn’t mean the outcome is out of your control. In fact, by taking a few proactive steps, you can turn your annual performance review into an opportunity to drive real change in your career. Before sitting down with your boss, be brutally honest with yourself: Have you done a great job, and do you feel that you earned the things you want for yourself? Yes? Awesome. Then consider the following steps:
- Take note of everything you dislike about your current position. Yup, we’re starting with the negative. You’d be surprised what your boss doesn’t know about the negative aspects of your job. This is your opportunity to share and possibly initiate some changes. But be careful with this! You might want to consult a coach or close confidant on how to position the feedback you want to give— just to make sure that you’re presenting yourself in the best way possible and that you are heard. (See point #7 for more on how to properly prep.)
- Write down what you think would fix those problems. This could be anything from letting you hire an assistant to suggesting that the company needs an office manager. It could also be, for instance, creating a new department, which, of course, you would lead (if that’s what you’re aspiring to do). Whatever you suggest, show how that change could actually solve the problem or help the company at large. For instance, you’re being paid X amount to do Y work. But you’re spending half of that time mired in administrative tasks; an intern or office assistant would free you and your colleagues up to tackle the issues that you’re all actually being paid to do, improving the company’s productivity overall.
- Ask yourself: how do you want to see your job grow? This question is different from the first one in that this is about envisioning what the ideal next step up would be for you at this company. Whatever you envision, make sure to know why and how this would be a good investment for your company. For instance, if you want to start a West Coast branch, how will it raise revenue? Do your homework, run the numbers—you should be able to prove that, for instance, the profits from an expansion in the company’s client base would justify the cost of creating a satellite office. Even though the move would be for you, you still have to showcase how it’s best for the company. And note, this tactic should be taken for EVERY recommendation you make, no matter how big or small! Suggestions always need to be a win-win!
- Speak the language of your company. Take a look at your company’s mission statement and make sure you know your boss’s goals. Then use that language to summarize the gains you’ve made in your current position over the last year. What did you accomplish for yourself, your boss, and most importantly for the company’s bottom line? How did you go above and beyond?
- Figure out what your new salary should be. Go on Glassdoor.com and search for salaries at relevant companies for the type of work you’re proposing to do. Reach out to professional trade organizations to find out what others at the level you’re aspiring to earn. You don’t want to leave money on the table, but you don’t want to out-price yourself either. And even if you are not being promoted, know your worth; you may deserve more money just to be competitive.
- Consider what your new title should be. Companies tend to be more flexible in this area so make the most of it. As with salary do some research and see what others in similar positions call themselves. And ask yourself, what kind of title will give you the respect and recognition you deserve at your company?
- Script your ask. Conversations always go better when you prepare for them. This is what I do with my clients before an interview or meeting with their boss. Even if they might not get everything they ask for, they certainly signal to their boss that they’re thinking of the big picture and they’re worth grooming for bigger and better things. And don’t worry standing for yourself and your worth is expected. In fact, a lot of money is left on the table each year because the employee never asked or proved their case!
If you have a performance review coming up, give these strategies a try and let us know how it goes in the comments section! And don’t forget to sign up for more tips and career inspiration on the LOAMLife site, where you’ll also find a free report outlining tried and true top questions to ask in an interview to ensure you get the job that is right for you!