I haven’t yet joined the “great resignation” but I’m tempted because it’s a good way to get a raise nowadays. I like my job, my boss and my team, but I don’t know how to get the money I think I’m worth by staying put. My performance review is coming up but I suspect a job interview will pay off better! Before I make a mistake, can I get a raise rather than give my resignation?
There’s way to help your employer give you a raise before you give your resignation. Who wants to go on job interviews when a well-managed performance review might get you what you want? You can make a performance review pay off better than a job interview, if you seize it. That means you must trigger the review even before it’s scheduled. With many employers worried about losing workers, I’m going to suggest a way to pull this off.
Get a raise: Call your own performance review
Someone once described the annual review as “an exercise in corporate kabuki theater,” and I agree. Formal, rote review meetings should be pitched out the window, and replaced with a roll-up-your-sleeves work session with your boss.
The main problem with performance reviews is that by the time you walk in to do one, your fate has already been sealed. The human resources department and your boss have likely already done all the talking. They’ve filled out the forms and they found you a nice place for next year — on the fat middle of the company’s salary curve. All that’s left is the formality of running through a list of canned questions with you.
I see these reviews a different way. Your challenge is to subvert the process. If your performance review is coming up, great — use it. If it’s not, do your employer a favor and call your own performance review. Subvert the review process by taking the initiative to show why you are on the leading edge of that salary curve — and perhaps off the curve altogether. You’re the exceptional producer who deserves the kind of raise you’d get if you changed companies.
Don’t give your resignation yet: Get a raise
Resigning and getting a new job is indeed a way to get a good raise nowadays. But as you note, some people like their jobs and the people they work with. They’d rather be part of “the great stay-cation” than the great resignation — if they can get the raise they want.
You may not need to give your resignation and change employers to get the raise you want. Here are three suggestions for how to avoid a resignation and trigger a raise. Maybe if more people would take the lead in their performance reviews with their bosses, something could actually change for the better.
3 steps to a raise
- Don’t wait for your formal review. If you’re not in a hurry, lay the groundwork. Start meeting with your boss casually all year long – do it once a week, or once a month. Just explain you want to talk briefly “to make sure we’re both on the same page.” Then recount three ways your work is paying off for the company and how it’s making your boss look good. These meetings are crucial because it’s how you establish that your boss’s expectations and your work are in synch all the time. It’s how you train your boss to recognize your performance. (If your goal is to hide your performance, then stop reading. I can’t help you.)
- Think and talk profit. If you’re itchy for a raise and can’t wait, create a reason for a review. Tell your boss, “Look, I know the CFO doesn’t measure how profitable my work is. But I’d like to try to figure it out, using any terms we can. When you assign me a project, I’d like to figure out how to do it so it either helps to increase the company’s revenues or decreases its costs. Are you game?” Then outline three ways you can make incremental improvements in the way you do your job.
- Look back and look forward – all the time. Every worker should do this all year long. Show your boss the money! Create opportunities for casual meetings to discuss how the work you’ve been doing pays off – or how it didn’t. Be candid and be honest. “I realize that if I had done this rather than that… it would have benefitted the company more. What do you think?” Listen for input. Then take this tack: “Learning from that, do you think I should tweak the way I’m doing this new project to be more efficient?”
I won’t resign if you hire me all over again!
What’s subversive about this? You’re showing your employer why they should hire you all over again, rather than replace you at a much higher salary in today’s market. You are showing your boss why you’re worth more, and that it’s easier to “retain” you!
But you’re also demonstrating that you’re always thinking about your performance in terms of the company’s objectives — and its profits. No other employee will talk like this. You will stand out. You may reveal that you are one employee worth the bigger salaries the company is paying to snag new talent.
Make the case to get a raise
You might need to quit and move. But, rather than resign, first consider whether you can motivate a good raise. Offer your boss a short written report. You must help your boss make the case that you’re worth more than you’re being paid. It can be as simple as this:
- Outline three key things you’ve done in the past year that positively affected the department’s success and the company’s profitability.
- Then show three things you’re going to do in the coming year – and discuss your projected outcomes. How will these three things boost profitability and success?
If you’ve played your cards right, these are all items you and your boss have already been discussing. End the report with, “What do you think? How would you suggest I modify my plan to make it a reality?”
A good raise could cost your boss less than your resignation
By the time your boss meets with HR to talk about you, everyone will have a clear grasp of your value to the company. They should also realize what a catch you would be to another company willing to pay you what you’re really worth. And that replacing you will likely cost them a lot more anyway.
Does this seem like a lot of work? Well, it is. But so is going job hunting.
If you cannot show your value like this, or your manager can’t see it, then the next best thing could be to join the Great Resignation. (But don’t do that without reading Parting Company: How to leave your job.) However, in either case, you must be ready to demonstrate your value to this employer or to a new one.
If your company eliminated performance reviews altogether, and if it were up to you to demonstrate your worth each year, how would you do it? If you think you can command a good raise elsewhere, how could you pull it off where you work now — rather than give your resignation?