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Performance and Salary Review from the Employee's Side

Ben Byth

Around this time of year, one of the most common questions I get asked as a negotiation specialist is ‘how do I negotiate my next performance and salary review?’ Here are a few key things to think of so you don’t leave value on the table:

Play the long game

Often we see people playing the short game. Anything you might be able to achieve in your next performance review is likely to have been agreed in your last review. Play the long game and agree the achievement milestones over the next 12 months.


Modesty has no place in salary negotiations. Ensure you can clearly demonstrate your contributions throughout the year and the value you bring to the organisation. Be clear, optimistic and realistic on what it is that you want to gain… it shouldn’t become a fishing expedition and you shouldn’t ask ‘boss, what will you be doing for me?’.  Think about the questions you will ask before you enter the room, for example ‘what would I need to do this coming year to achieve a $10,000 increase next year?’

What’s in it for Them?

If there is an upside to the organisation you are much more likely to get your objectives over the line. Think about what objectives your manager has and see if you can help him/her achieve them. It is your job to show the organisation why your personal objectives take their best interest into account… make the link clear.

Probe for Flexibility and be Creative

It is crucial that you spend time exploring the rules, constraints and flexibilities around performance reviews and any potential impact the current organisational landscape may have. For example, if the company hasn’t performed it is likely cash money won’t be on the table. Think about other variables that could add value…?  additional professional development, a strategic project to further your experience or skills, additional resources, flexible hours, an extra day of leave, a more prestigious title… the options are endless and sometimes things that cost the organisation very little could be hugely valuable to you.

Make a Proposal

If you aren’t prepared to ask for what it is that you want… the likelihood is you will get what you deserve… nothing! It is your responsibility to advocate for your position. Put your optimistic but realistic objective on the table… don’t make your boss guess!

Take Control

Finally, make sure you are in control of the process. It is OK to slow things down by giving summaries or asking clarification questions. If you need time to reflect… take an adjournment. If things have become deadlocked… consider making an either/or proposal to help uncover flexibilities, preferences and areas you can build on.

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