Show me the money! 5 myths & tips about salary reviews

Salary Reviews

How amazing would it be if we all had the confidence of Jerry Maguire when entering our own salary reviews? He could play the game, go in hard, he knew when to pull back and he seemingly always got the results he wanted — well almost always.

The reality is that most people are more than a little uncomfortable when chatting about money, especially when you’re asking for a little more for yourself. In chatting with some top agency leaders, I’ve uncovered 5 myths around salary increases, as well as some tips on the best ways to ask for one.

The 5 myths around salary increases

Myth 5: This is personal

Your rent increase, newly acquired car and standard of living are of little interest to your boss when it comes to salary negotiations. How you spend and manage your money is your choice and not being able to live within your means is a very weak foundation for a salary negotiation. Your salary, and increase, is directly related to the value you add to the business.

Myth 4: I’ll get an increase after my probation is up

Changing jobs is one of the few times you can get a decent increase. Know what you’re willing to go for and back yourself. If the company genuinely wants you, they will find the money to hire you (within reason). If they can’t afford the salary you want initially and want you to prove yourself first, get specifics around how you can get to the figure you want. Establish the clear expectations and associated timeframe for your next increase, and get that in writing. Most companies have a fixed salary banding for each role level, chances are your starting salary will stay put for a minimum of 12 months.

Myth 3: My boss notices all my achievements

Your boss has their own life and career to think about — they’re busy! I sincerely doubt they are lying in bed at night thinking about your career and achievements.  Standing on your desk and blowing your own trumpet will not only be annoying, but it will also make you unpopular with the team. However, don’t be shy in sharing your success stories, as they happen, with your team and your boss. Celebrate all of your wins and remember them. Write them down and reflect on them before your next performance review.

Myth 2: Performance & salary reviews go hand-in-hand

Your performance review is your one chance to have a robust career discussion with your boss.  You have the opportunity to point out where you’re adding tremendous value to the business and bottom line of the company, and to brag a little about your achievements. Here you can talk about your professional goals and where you’d like to see yourself in the next 6-12 months. Even longer if it’s a progressive company. You can also chat about your contribution to the team’s success.

Why would you want waste this moment talking about money?

If getting a higher salary is your goal, set a separate meeting with your boss to chat about salary and I’d suggest you do this after the performance review.

Myth 1: My boss holds the power

It turns out that you are not the only one who is uncomfortable with having “the money conversation”, your boss is too! Your boss wants you to own this conversation and to make it easy for them to reward you. Compensation isn’t only financial, looking at alternatives like flexibility, working a 9-day fortnight, working from home, company paid training may all increase your satisfaction level in the workplace and if that’s what you want, ask for it. As each agency is structured differently, some multi-nationals answer to a board, other independents have tighter budget, by understanding where your boss is coming from you’ll present a more persuasive argument when you have the conversation.

So, what’s the best way to approach a salary discussion?

Tip 1: Do your homework

Prepare your case before you go into any discussion about salary with your boss.

There are 3 things you need to find out before you enter a salary negotiation:

  • Know the market value for your role
  • Know how your company makes money
  • Know when your company starts planning their budget

Apart from chatting to colleagues, there are many online tools and salary guides to benchmark your salary. Or, you could pick up the phone and call your trusted recruiter. Be sure to benchmark your salary before making demands.

Understand the health of your business as well as how and where they make their money. If you understand their revenue model, you’ll be able to show where you’re adding value to the bottom line. If you’re missing deadlines or your work is being rejected because of errors, you are costing the business money.

On the flipside, if you are bringing in extra business or have devised systems to improve efficiency, you are adding to the bottom line. You want to show this value.

Budgets get planned every year. Make it your job to know exactly when this happens. You don’t want to have your salary discussion after the budgets for the next 12 months have been locked in. If you know that every year budget planning starts in September, book in a meeting with your boss, specifically to discuss salary, in August. Give your boss time to factor your salary increase into next year’s budget.

Tip 2: Show your value

The second part of doing your homework is to reflect on all the areas in which you’ve gone above and beyond for your company.  I’m talking about the value you have added, in addition to doing your job. This is the extra value you have to talk about in your review. Make a note of it all and come prepared.

Tip 3: Upward manage your boss

While many companies have fixed annual performance and salary reviews, modern HR practices are moving away from this approach. There is comfort in knowing the predictable schedule around reviews, because you can plan for it.  However, if your company doesn’t have a fixed framework supporting reviews there is nothing stopping you from creating your own.

Don’t be shy to lay out the future you see for yourself in the business. Yes, this is bold and if your boss is uncomfortable with you having an ambitious future in the company, then it might be time to explore new options. If you are not sure what the future could hold for you at the company, be clear on the amount you would like to be earning and lead the conversation with that figure. Aim questions at your boss on what you need to achieve for the business in order to get the salary you’d like. Be realistic with the timing, give yourself time to achieve what’s needed, giving your boss time to budget and plan for your reward.

If you’re working for a successful business, you are the one who holds the key to a successful review. Do your homework, show your value and be realistic with timing — this is how you can own your review.


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