Brother Ron Barnes
Founder and Pastor

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Guide to Salary Reviews

Prepare to sell yourself

A recent survey indicated that about 50% of workers believe they're not getting a fair deal at their salary review time; and 75% of workers feel that their salary does not accurately reflect the work they do. Instead of blaming your employer, be proactive.

Many people believe that if they do a good job, the work will speak for itself. Do not rely on your manager to closely monitor your achievements. Some managers might have the time to do this, but most are too busy doing other things. Track your achievements by writing them down in your work diary. Do not just include your major achievements either. Smaller achievements when added up over a year or six months look very impressive.

By doing this, at salary review time you will be able to produce a detailed and accurate record of all your achievements for the year. In addition to recording your actions, keep a record of the results of those actions. It's called feature-benefit selling. First you explain the feature (what you did) and then you explain how this benefitted your employer. Whenever possible, use objective measurements. Your goal is a bigger paycheck, not a slap on the back. Phrase your accomplishments and contributions in terms the accounting department can understand.

Although contributions which can be measured in dollars and cents are critical, you should also record your invisible but important contributions. Invisible contributions are those little things, which we generally do everyday and make a huge contribution to the running of the organisation. They're called invisible because no one knows you've done them and they're important because without them the organisation cannot function properly. All too often we're not given any recognition for our invisible contributions. So it's up to you to begin recording them along with your other achievements.

An example may be successfully handling an irate customer over the phone and thereby not losing them as a customer, not to mention preventing potential bad public relations. Another example is providing consistently excellent customer service by doing the little things such as returning calls on time, taking the time to listen properly and explaining things clearly. If you think about it the list is virtually endless.

Remember your A-B-C's and Always Be Conspicuous 

Don't wait until the day of your salary review to start selling your achievements to your supervisor. Be sure that your manager is aware of your achievements and contributions on an on-going basis. It's up to you to make sure they're kept informed of what you're doing. Keeping them informed can be as simple as mentioning it over the water cooler or sending them a quick email.

Of course you do not want to sound like the office egotist when you do this. One good technique is to send out a memo or email congratulating the people who helped you with your accomplishment. Very seldom does one person accomplish things single-handed. If somebody brought a problem to your attention that you solved, send out a message thanking them for bringing it to your attention. Of course you will also mention your actions in resolving the issue and importance of this matter to the company. But you won't look like a showoff when you do it.

Be Prepared

The organization has done its homework on you before the salary review. In order to save money, they may have compiled a list of your shortcomings to use as reasons to deny or limit your requests for increases in your compensation. You should come to the review equally prepared to show your worth to them.

Be sure you stay abreast of all the important changes and priorities of the organization. By knowing what's important for the organization you work in, you will be able to make decisions which are more useful to your employer. Few things impress a manager more than an employee coming up with timely solutions that address an organizational priority.

You should also have a good knowledge of the company's financial situation. There is no reason to ask for a pay raise from a company which is considering bankruptcy or massive layoffs. A study of the causes for any difficulties might inspire you to come up with ideas to make Things more profitable for everybody. You might also learn about your comany's strengths and seek ways to improve them to the benefit of both the company and yourself.

Research what the market is paying for similar jobs. Your research should be similar to the work you did when negotiating your original salary. In your salary review you want to justify your current compensation as well as make a case for an increase. Part of this is presenting an implied scenario of the difficulties the employer would face in replacing you.

Have a Game Plan

Know what you will be asking for in the salary review. Also have a firm idea of what you will accept. The organization does not want to look like a pushover and will probably put forth a counterproposal. You are still trying to create a win-win situation. If taking a 10% increase instead of a 20% increase means working in a mutually supportive environment without hostility it may be a good investment. You should also explore ways to increase your benefit package instead of your salary. You get more, the company saves money and everybody walks away smiling.

Go into the negotiation with ideas to improve your performance and the comapny's profits. Instead of an increase in fixed salary, you might suggest incentive bonuses or other performance-based rewards. This takes the risk away from management. If you don't perform, you don't get the reward and nobody gets hurt. If you do perform, the company can pay what you are asking from the extra profit you generate. By taking away the risk of criticism from the stockholders and Board of Directors, you increase your probability of success.

Let management present its case first. Observe the attitude of your manager. Take notes about comments on your performance over the past year. You can then adapt your remarks to meet what your employer has already said about you. You may even get an offer that is close to what you are seeking before you have to say anything at all.

Keep things pleasant no matter what happens. Keep the discussion focused on the job and your execution of assignments and responsibilities. If your supervisor expresses negative opinions, you might use the "feel-felt-found" approach:

"I understand how you feel. If I was looking at the situation from your prospective, I probably would have felt the same way. But if you had been aware of all the facts, you would have found that.......". You then go on to present your side of the issue. Remember that you are either going to have to work with this person or depend on them for a reference.

If things don't work out so well, however, you shouldn't threaten to resign in the heat of the moment. Your supervisor does not like to be threatened and your offer to resign may be accepted. Instead, try to keep the discussion moving and focus on how you might make a positive contribution to the company over the next twelve months.