There are some people out there who love the performance review period but the reality is, many of us dread the inevitable half-yearly discussion about personal objectives, and the pressure and scrutiny that comes with it.

Depending on your communication style and knack for self-promotion, you could find the review experience a total breeze. But many of us anticipate an awkward scenario that you’d rather forget.

Along with your performance review comes the question of how to ask for a pay rise and how often you should get a pay rise. The answer depends on a number of factors, which of course includes your performance but also external factors that you can’t control, like your company’s financial position and tighter market conditions.

The key takeout is not getting the pay rise you want doesn’t always come down to poor performance on your part. It can be demoralising to receive a firm ‘no’ when asking for a pay rise but the good news is there are some steps you can take to ideally turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Examine your expectations for a pay rise

Taking a step back and reviewing the contribution you have made over the year is key. You have to be honest and ask yourself, “Do I deserve a pay rise?”

Have you met and exceeded all your goals and expectations? If so, then it’s understandable to be disappointed and you’re in a good position to make a further case for a pay rise. If you’ve slipped on some of your objectives and KPIs, then a ‘no’ shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Build your case for a salary increase

If you still feel like your workplace efforts are not aligned with your salary, stay calm. The most productive thing you can do is sit down with your manager and list all of the reasons why you deserve a pay rise. Compile a list before the meeting with evidence to back up your case, including things like salary benchmarks for your role, your key achievements and comparable open jobs that pay more than your current salary.

Be sure to note any targets you’ve smashed or additional business and revenue you’ve brought into the business. Your manager is more likely to respond to quantifiable contributions over an emotional plea.

Above all, it’s important to be your own biggest advocate. Your manager will not always know what projects you are working across, especially when you have a very hands-off manager. This is why it’s important to have a list all the great work you have done, prior to the review period, as proof.

Your pay rise request was rejected. What next?

You’ve presented your case, exercised your best negotiation skills and still been denied a pay rise. It’s natural to feel rejected and angry, as most people think a ‘no’ means you’re not good enough. This is the prime time where you run the risk of becoming disinterested at work, bitter and detached. However, it’s important not to feel so dejected that it impacts the quality of your work and hinders your chances of a pay rise in the future. The way you conduct yourself in a challenging professional situation will have a major impact on your reputation, often for the long-term.

A proactive response

If you weren’t offered a specific reason during your meeting, it’s important to follow up and find out why you didn’t get a pay rise: Don’t make assumptions. Have a sit down with your manager to talk through it. It could be that there genuinely isn’t enough budget due to economic events or business performance – most of us have heard this excuse in the past, and as disappointing as it is, at least you know your performance isn’t the issue.

And, if your performance is to blame, getting feedback from the horse’s mouth will allow you to work on improving and showing progress for your next performance review. Understanding why the decision was made will ultimately help you get what you want faster.

It’s also worth getting advice and a different perspective from an outside party, such as a mentor, who has been in a similar position before and can offer advice on the best ways to handle it in your specific circumstances.

Focus on the future

Now you should be at the stage where you are formulating a plan to ensure you get the raise you’re after in your next performance review. Work closely with your manager to focus on the key priorities and goals for the new review period, and ensure you check-in from time to time. Try to welcome criticism and use it to develop and work towards getting that pay rise.

You could also explore alternatives to benefit you in other ways. Suggest taking on some training that will add value to the business as well as your skill set. Speak to your manager about career development opportunities within the organisation and the chance to get involved in a broader range of projects to grow and strengthen your experience.

Moving on to a new job

Before you hastily hand in your resignation and start looking for a new job, make sure you’ve thought it through and are confident it’s the best decision for your future. There are instances where you may work for a company that doesn’t value its employees appropriately – if you have explored other options and still feel like your achievements have gone unappreciated for too long, then perhaps it’s time to move on.

When you resign, don’t focus on the fact that money is driving you away, as this most likely won’t leave the best lasting impression on your ex-employer. Conduct yourself with decorum and move forward on a positive note, and you are far more likely to succeed in achieving your career and financial goals.

Approach your next salary conversation with confidence. Visit our Salary Guide today to research your current market value using detailed benchmarks for roles and functions across key industries including: Finance and Accounting, IT and Digital, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, Procurement and Property.

If you’d like help with the job search process, get in touch with an experienced Michael Page recruitment consultant today.

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