Your end-of-year review: A chance to re-negotiate

Posted by Shelly Eweka
My father always taught me, “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” Not least in the workplace, where just a small negotiated increase—in pay or vacation days—can do wonders for your financial and psychological well-being. 
Therefore, I’m astounded by the number of women—and men, for that matter—who face their end-of-year review with a mixture of resignation and dread—their sole objective, to not be judged too harshly.
Sure, it is your performance being appraised, and perhaps your core competencies reduced to a score out of five.
But the fact is, end-of-year reviews are a two-way street—not only a gauge of what more you could be doing, but also what more your employer could be doing to keep you happy.
If you don’t know when your annual review takes places, ask your HR department. What you do beforehand to prepare is arguably more crucial than what happens on the negotiating table:
1. Up to a year in advance: In order to demonstrate your value as an employee—which you can then leverage to negotiate a salary increase or some other benefit—you’ll need to bring cold hard data rather than emotional arguments to the table, so begin collecting an arsenal of supporting documents throughout the year (if you wait until the end of year to list all your accomplishments, you likely won’t remember half of them):

Create a folder in your inbox for:

  • Positive feedback from clients.
  • Emails from coworkers that mention projects completed on schedule or demonstrate to positive outcomes for the business.
  • Other successes and valuable contributions.
  • Notes of what you did and how it benefitted your team, the people around you, and your organization; how your activities have impacted your work environment.
2. Months in advance: There’s no shame in updating your resume and professional networking profile regularly—however much you love your current job. Everyone needs a backup plan—what negotiation experts call a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement)—to put you in a strong negotiating position.
3. A month or so before. It may also be a good idea to touch base with HR to get a feel for what the negotiating culture is within your organization. Whether you’re seeking more vacation days, a salary bump, a bigger bonus or more flexibility, the crucial thing is to go in treating it as a negotiation.  
If you’re uncomfortable asking for what you think you deserve, you’re certainly not alone. Women can be less assertive than men. But understand that negotiating is something you can learn—and should learn, if you want to get ahead. Practice talking about your professional achievements with a friend, until you strike a more self-confident tone. Remember, the ability to ask for what you want, politely and respectfully, is a skill that any company worth its salt should prize in an employee.
The more information you have, the stronger your position will be. Some companies make their pay scale transparent, while others are more opaque (although a quick internet search can yield salary and benefits information about most companies, often posted anonymously by employees past and present).
It’s important you know what the parameters are that you have to work with. Your manager may not have the discretion to give you a raise. Understand that negotiating is all about compromise, so you need to go in with an open mind.
Even if your main objective is to make more money, it can be a good idea to bring multiple variables to the negotiating table. There may not be enough money in the budget right now to bump you up to the salary you want, but added vacation, a change in responsibilities or title, or more flexibility in terms of working from home or working hours may be easier to grant.
4. A few weeks after. Arrange a time for a follow-up meeting to give your manager time to process your request or come back to you with an offer.
All the studies point to the same difference between the sexes: Men are more likely to ask. That’s why I’m especially vocal about “it doesn’t hurt to ask” when around other women. Don’t forget your value as an employee is a moving target, and your end-of-year review can be your once-in-a-year opportunity to re-assess your salary and other negotiable benefits.
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December 18, 2017