Performance reviews: how much are you really worth?

Performance review time. That annual hour with senior management discussing the past year's triumphs or screw-ups, where to from here and – if you're in the market for a raise – how much you're worth to the company.

For many, the latter in particular is an uncomfortable conversation. It needn't be, career strategist Christy Frank says.

The author of a recently-released book, Stand Out & Succeed, believes those who don't know their number – their monetary value to their current employer and on the open market – may do themselves out of thousands of dollars and the chance to move through the ranks faster.

How to work it out? Use online research and your network of contacts in the same industry or similar roles to peg yourself in the appropriate salary range, Frank says, then add in any additional value you bring to the role.

This could be a track record for winning major bids, a large network, or "whatever reason that shows you're a cut above".

Don't just ask for more money – tell a compelling narrative.

Edwin Trevor-Roberts

Leveraging remuneration

Some positions also have a certain amount of 'leverage value' attached – the opportunity for an individual to command additional remuneration.

Think of those Mr or Ms Fix-It roles where you're charged with rescuing a major project that's floundering, and performance-based roles where your contribution is measurable or has a direct effect on the bottom line.

Ensuring you get what you're worth not about negotiating for the sake of it, but showing you have done your research and what you bring to the role is valuable, Frank says.

"Awkwardness goes away when you know what you want and what you have to offer," she says.

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"You don't have to be egotistical about it at all … it's a business transaction, not a personal kind of push and pull."

Ask and you might receive

Don't expect to receive what you're not game enough to ask for, agrees Karen James, a former senior executive in the IT and finance industries and founder of the Commonwealth Bank's Women in Focus network.

She has had plenty of experience naming her number and conditions in interviews and performance reviews, and believes diffidence about discussing remuneration and prerequisites holds many people back.

"I've had a range of different arrangements and I've always asked for them," James says. "I said, 'these are the conditions I need to operate and succeed in'."

As well as a bottom-line figure that means she's moving ahead financially, her requirements over the years have included car parking near work and flexible hours to accommodate her parenting responsibilities.

Being realistic

"You need to have the inner confidence and belief that I can negotiate and ask for these things," James says. "A lot of people are funny about money and they can't talk about it."

While in-demand pros and those with X-factor to spare may have the whip hand in remuneration conversations, it's a mistake to think the majority of us will ever be in this fortunate position, careers consultant Edwin Trevor-Roberts cautions.

"We all like to think that we are worth a million dollars but the reality is that our remuneration is more to do with our position than what we think we are worth," Trevor-Roberts says.

"The rarefied few who can set their own remuneration is reserved for elite sports stars and world-renowned experts.

"Positions are created within organisations as it has been identified that a particular task needs to be done. It is the value of this task that determines, to a large degree, our remuneration."

Talking turkey

For most roles, market rate is a range and being prepared to talk turkey when the time comes is the key to ensuring you're on an upper-end package, Trevor-Roberts says.

"Where we can negotiate is within this range, based on our experience, our capability and our negotiation skills."

Once you've done your homework about the market and where you fit in, craft a story that explains why you're worth the figure you've alighted on, before your performance review or chat with the boss, Trevor-Roberts advises.

"Don't just ask for more money – tell a compelling narrative, including your achievements over the past year, the impact you've made and where you see your potential is."

Smart operators will make sure their spiel comes as no surprise, Trevor-Roberts adds: "Pre-empt the conversation by flagging in advance with your boss that you want to discuss your salary – that gives them time to think about it."

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