How to handle a salary review

Article Seldon Rosser - How to handle a salary review

Salary review meetings can be difficult to navigate for both the individual and the Director/Manager. Here are five key aspects to consider for managing salary negotiations in the best possible way.

1. Be prepared

The key thing with salary review meetings is to be prepared. Too often, employees focus straight on the salary review without enough focus on the performance review, which must come first. Go back to your last year’s review and any mid-year appraisals and remind yourself of what you were praised for and also what you agreed to improve/develop/take on. Be prepared when you go into the meeting to be able to articulate how well you have succeeded in achieving your goals since last year’s review period. If you have received and kept written praise from the business, it can be worth using it too.

Many larger firms will have a review system which focuses this conversation for you and the Director/Manager – but if yours does not, then you should take responsibility for making sure all the points you want to raise are covered.

2. Be realistic and show your value

Also, be realistic. We all need to continually grow – what could you be doing better, and, where so you recognise you need training or support?

When seeking a salary review, it is important to show your value and worth to the firm. Your aim is to show why you are adding more value than 12 months ago when your salary was last set. Choose language which talks about value to the business first and what you personally are seeking second to position yourself better than discussing only your personal gain.

It’s also important to do your market research before the meeting to know your worth more broadly. You may not like what you find if you are already being paid at the top end of market salary ranges as it will make an increase less likely (as the business will have done the same research). It’s important to know your market value walking into the room.

Read our salary benchmarks 2021 to be prepared for the next meeting.

3. Reflect before asking for a promotion or a salary review

Another tip when angling for a salary increase can be to offer to take on more projects and add to your job description. Before you do this, think seriously about your capacity to take on more work and continue to deliver to the best standards.

Sometimes you might be hoping for a promotion as well as a salary review. It’s good to remember that often you need to be stepping up and doing several key aspects of the role, proving yourself, before an actual promotion. So, offering to step up and take on more can help you move forwards. Also, you need to be realistic, as the team structure may not allow for a promotion as this time. And, despite your own views, your Director/Manager may tell you that you’re not ready. If this is the case, it’s important to listen first and then ask positive questions about what you need to achieve to work towards this over the next few months.

4. Understand the context

It’s also important to understand that a salary review at the end of year is by no means automatic or to be assumed even if you have performed well. Whilst most professional services businesses have faired well during COVID, and anticipate making up for the lack of review in 2020, it is important to understand the context and market factors affecting your employer. Or if you are already being paid at the higher end of market rate it would be hard for your business to offer higher pay. If you don’t get what you were hoping for, try to be understanding and react without emotion. Perhaps you can ask for another review meeting in six months time and ask to keep lines of communication open on this point. Or instead ask for financial support to take on some training in an area linked to your development goals.

5. Communication style is key in these conversations

Whether you get a salary review this time or not, how you conduct and present yourself in the meeting when discussing both your performance and your salary will be noted and so here’s another opportunity to build your personal brand within the firm.

Feeling nervous about your salary review meeting? Talk to us about the best way to handle your salary negotiation.

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