Reviews have become the standard way in which we communicate our satisfaction or displeasure with one another. Chances are good that the last time you had a negative experience at a restaurant, you logged on to a site like Yelp to share your experience with the online community.
Your annual performance evaluation serves a similar purpose. However, more is at stake for you at work. The score you receive can impact your performance bonus, your annual raise, and even your chances of being promoted later on down the line. Often, your direct manager has full discretion over the rating you get and how that rating will impact you financially.
Some companies base your rating and annual bonus on your personal contributions alone. Others take company performance or team performance into account. When company performance is used, you are sometimes rated according to your business unit’s performance, and other times you are rated based on overall corporate performance.
Before accepting a new job, it can be helpful to understand how the company will evaluate your work. It is also wise to ask what the company’s historic payout for top performers looks like. Although no organization can guarantee a payout, it should be able to give you an idea of where you may fall within the historic range. For example, some companies rarely pay out more than 90 percent of the original target, while others may regularly pay out more than 100 percent.
Performance evaluations are also a great way to document your career progress over time, and can be a good source of information when you update your resume. Typically, you review yourself before your boss provides their feedback. Do your best to provide a complete, honest review, but don’t undersell yourself. You will not get brownie points for rating yourself poorly.
This is the time to put your best foot forward, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Read over your review multiple times to ensure you have made no mistakes and that you’re providing strong examples of your work. In addition to an online review, consider preparing a presentation to give your boss that demonstrates your success.
If you plan to ask for something during your review, such as a large salary increase, be sure to do your homework. Your company has little incentive to pay you 50 percent more tomorrow to do the same job you’re doing today. Research the market value of your current role and other openings in your area. Prepare to speak about the financial impact you’ve made on the organization. Consider pitching a new or expanded role and your vision for the future. You want to compel your boss to want to pay you more.
And, if you ask for a large raise, realize that it’s possible your boss may balk, no matter how valuable you are. Companies often find it challenging to provide very large raises, no matter the circumstances. If you are pitching a large increase because you do not currently feel valued, this may be the time to begin looking for a company that will take you and your contributions more seriously.
A version of this article originally appeared on Memphis Daily News.