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September 22, 2015
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Topic Of The Week

Make the Most of a Positive Review

Over the course of my corporate career I received several positive performance reviews. I always felt good leaving those meetings. But I almost always got only the minimum percentage raise. A small percentage of a small number is still a small number. I didn’t have the skill or the knowledge to be able to ask for more money or for other types of compensation. When I was asked to follow up my post on How to Respond to an Unfair Review, I researched best practices and interviewed a colleague who has leveraged positive reviews successfully (she asked to not be identified).

Show up prepared – This is a HUGE conversation in your career success. Now is not a time to just check the box and get back to work. Have solid sentences that you have practiced talking about your potential and vision. Talk about growing with the company. Say things that your boss can repeat to his/her boss when pitching your requests. Have a list of prioritized requests.

Don’t say “thank you” – Saying thank you closes the conversation and removes your power. Instead say something like, “I’m glad you are able to share that you value me and the work I do to help grow our company.”  You are working to build the relationship, to help them feel valuable about themselves and a joint responsibility to doing what is best for the company.

Ask career based questions – Asking for only a bigger raise will lump you in with everyone else looking for more money and put your boss on the defensive (which undoes the good will you created above). Instead ask about growth opportunities in the next 12 months, ask to be identified for a leadership path. Listen carefully for specific ways your career and visibility will grow going forward. If there is nowhere to grow or you get a hedged “I’ll have to see” response, that’s a red flag.

Ask for learning compensation – Now is a great time to ask for tuition reimbursement, sponsorship to seminars (where you can meet other leaders in your field), an executive coach, leadership classes and other funded personal development opportunities. Talk about growing and developing the department together. If you are angling for your boss’ job make it clear you want to push him/her up (promotion) not out (fired or demoted).      

Ask for physical space – An office, private cube, whatever works in your company. Physical privacy offers the “feeling” of power; it also allows you to have confidential conversations with clients and the opportunity to work on separate projects without interruption.

Ask for part-time help and/or software – The goal is for you to be able to do more of the important stuff that you’re really good at. That might mean having an assistant to manage paperwork and filing or getting new software that allows you to work faster. You know what you need, ask for it!  

Talking about money – If the raise you are offered is less than you had hoped, or at the bottom of a range you had previously discussed, make a sound (not words) that indicates you are disappointed and be silent. Let them respond. They will most likely ask if you’re disappointed or try to justify the number by talking about the team and “fairness”. Talk about your personal budget, things you expected to be able to do financially with the raise. Your response should be personal because you are talking about money paid to you – it doesn’t get more personal than that. Sure you’re a team player, in all aspects except taking food off of your table so the company can profit.

Know what you need – If you’re going to make it personal you need to know what number you “need”. Know what the market will bear, know what it costs to hire and train someone new and know what your personal budget needs to do the things you intended to do with this raise. This is about you. Own it!

Talk about your next review – Yes it is a year away but knowing where you’re going and what you can expect when you get there is a good idea. If you are taking on extra projects or a leadership role, consider asking for a formal review in six months. One word of warning – be wary about being given ranges: “If you continue on this path we could offer you X to XX more next year.” Almost always the person making the offer has already decided on X and you will be expecting XX. It is a set up for misunderstanding. If a range is offered, gain an understanding of what will determine how the actually number will be determined and get it in writing.

Congratulations on getting a great review! Now make the most of it!

As always, I wish you the MOST from your potential,
Doc Robyn


If you’d like to have a no obligation, no pitch discovery conversation to see if I’m the right coach for your needs, email me: or text/call 732-421-5170.


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