How to handle end of year reviews

17 December 2019

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If you have a review meeting with your boss before the end of the year, pay attention - we have some valuable tips to help you manage it confidently, even on the difficult topic of salary reviews.

As the year comes to an end and the new year begins, it's often a time to take stock and make resolutions and plans for the coming year. Managers, team leaders and bosses often sit around the table at this time of year to work on planning the budgets for the next 12 months. An important ritual prior to the end of the year are evaluation interviews (or reviews) with employees, during which salaries are often a topic of discussion.

While these progress or performance reviews may be conducted at some companies once a quarter, once every six months or even monthly, year-end interviews often represent the only opportunity to discuss professional growth and to reassess your salary with your supervisor.

This article provides some practical tips about:

  • conducting a salary survey tailored to your qualifications, 
  • preparing arguments based on the results to negotiate a higher salary, 
  • the importance of completing an evaluation interview at least once a year.

An opportunity for the employee and information for the employer

Evaluation interviews are an important part of the working relationship between employee and employer. They provide a unique opportunity to openly discuss how your supervisor sees your work and how you assess your own work, given the working conditions the company provides you. Therefore, you should not be a passive participant in your own evaluation interview. It is important to prepare yourself, to constructively assess and criticise, and to recognise your own goals and motivations and the direction you want to take your career in.

It is an opportunity for you to highlight the things that you like to do, and do well, and to present your vision for moving forward. If you are not in the habit of regularly sitting down with your supervisor and discussing your work, it is also the only opportunity to provide them with information on how you perceive the working environment, the things that satisfy and dissatisfy you and how you could be more motivated or supported. It is a win-win situation for both sides.

Complete a salary survey and prepare your arguments

An employee's work has a market value the same as anything else that we buy, and an employer is paying you for your time and your skills. Just like buying a television for €100 or for €8,000, there is no universal value for all jobs on the market. The process of calculating the value of each individual job involves a number of factors, including:

  • level of responsibility,
  • education,
  • experience
  • practice,
  • location, and
  • industry.

The best way to determine the value of your work is to compare it on www.paylab.com, where you'll receive a result that is adapted specifically to your level of experience. Based on the salary recommended by the comparator, you'll be able to prepare proposals for your employer.

If the results show your salary is lower than average for your position

It is possible that the value of your work has increased over the year for a variety of reasons, such as a promotion to a more senior category, your experience, additional training or education you have completed, or that the average salary in your field has increased. It could also be that you accepted an inadequate salary with your employer when you joined the company. In this case, you can base your argument on the reality of the job market and that the average salary for your position is inadequate. Be careful when making this argument, as your employer may respond by noting that you previously agreed to a lower salary. In this case, you should try and seek a compromise that leaves both parties satisfied.

If your qualifications have increased in the meantime, it is perfectly acceptable to use this as an argument. Your employer should be interested in retaining quality and qualified employees as hiring new employees comes at great financial cost.

In both of the above cases, you cannot rely on the result of the survey alone; of course, your performance at work should always be an integral part of such arguments.

If the results show your salary is higher than average

You may find yourself in this situation for any number of reasons. One of them could be that your employer is willing to pay more than the average in order to keep their employees motivated and loyal to them. Or it could be that you were very assertive when negotiating an excellent salary when you joined or as part of your last pay review. Finally, it may be that the average salary simply does not represent reality. But the average tends to include high values and it is quite probable that you are part of the skilled upper half.

If you earn more than the average, you are of course still entitled to a pay rise every year. Especially if you feel that your current salary is inadequate or your competencies or qualifications have changed, or you have simply grown through experience. Do not hesitate to present arguments and proposals based on your successes at work and your vision for your professional growth.

The importance of completing evaluation reviews

End of year reviews   are seen as a necessary evil by many, but that will ideally end with a salary increase. A review shouldn't only focus on your salary, even though, clearly, it is probably the most important thing for you.

This (typically) one-on-one meeting is also an opportunity for your employer to identify ways for you to grow in your career and to use your potential to benefit the company, or to discuss any further training that you may benefit from.

An evaluation of your past year's work from your boss's perspective will give you a feeling of recognition and these meetings provide the space you need to resolve any problems that may have occurred. You should always take things from the meeting to build your future career on, and they should always focus on the positive, your strengths and your career progression. 


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