How to Get What You Want At Your Annual Appraisal

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Get excited, people! It’s that time of the year again: annual appraisal time!

This is a fantastic opportunity to discuss what matters to you and what matters to your boss, team, company. And then to decide on next steps for you, with an accompanying negotiation around work set-up and salary.

Yet, often this conversation is dreaded by at least one and sometimes both sides. There can be so much stress surrounding your performance evaluation. So much accumulated frustration, so much nebulous negativity and unspoken bitterness.

And after all of that has come out, you’re supposed to discuss the future? And… NEGOTIATE?!

That’s a hell of a lot to do in those 30 or 60 minutes, isn’t it? Yes, the conversation may feel like a lot longer, but half an hour to an hour is how long these conversations are usually scheduled for. And then that’s it. For a whole freaking year.

No wonder there is so much pressure on them. No wonder they are so stressful. And no wonder they often end up being such a disappointment, especially when it comes to the salary negotiation part. This pivotal part of the conversation usually ends up being a 20 second event, where your boss shares the annual salary increase of one or a few percentage points with you as you’re exiting the room, if it’s discussed at all and not just shared via a quick email from HR.

If this sounds a lot like your experience, my advice to you is this: take control of the process.

Ideally you do this throughout the year, by setting up appraisal conversations at regular intervals, where you discuss your work: what’s good, what can be done better, how can that be achieved, etc. Make this a monthly event. By regularly discussing the quality and quantity of your work, you (a) normalise it, making it easier for all involved, all the time, (b) don’t ever get surprised by new information during the annual appraisal, and (c) get better work results overall, leading to a better assessment at the end of the year.

All of that leaves you in a much better place to discuss your next steps at the official appraisal, and to negotiate that brighter future in your favour!

Now if you’re reading this and thinking “Thanks Wies, great advice for 2024 but I haven’t done any of this the past year so I am stuck with the old-skool way of handling appraisals next week”, fear not. Not all is lost.

If you are in that situation, please do the following ASAP: schedule a separate meeting with your boss to discuss both your plans and needs and interests for the coming year and to negotiate your set-up and salary. If you get questions back why you would need a separate meeting, simply answer you want to give these subjects the time and attention they deserve in the interest of both sides. Their response will give you clarity about your future there.

As always, if you want help with navigating and negotiating your career, do let me know. The WIN Way program that I run, specialises in exactly this.

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