The Don’ts Of Performance Reviews

Dec 19, 2018 | Professional Advice, Your Path

No matter how high up the ladder you are, chances are that someone is higher than you, which means that you’re likely gearing up to have that annual conversation about performance, raises and promotions. These discussions are industry-agnostic and being prepared for them will help ease any nerves and set you up for success.

We chatted with Hina Ahmad, General Counsel Capital Dynamics Inc. and Global Compliance Officer, and Maryfrances Metrick founder of M. Metrick Advisory, on some pointers about compensation, negotiation, and talking to your leadership about performance. Both dynamic women were on our How to Negotiate Carry” panel at the Private Equity Summit in October which proved to be one of our most popular sessions.

First thing to note, is that most successful compensation discussions start well before the actual reviews, which are typically in the first quarter. That said, it’s not too late to start preparing now and planning for next year (and years to come). These “don’ts” don’t expire, so keep them close and take a look at them year-round.

1. Don’t assume your boss knows what you’ve accomplished

I heard someone once say “no one will pay you what your worth, they’ll only pay you what they think you are worth”. And they won’t know what to think, unless you show (and tell) them. Make sure to have the hard facts on how and when you helped the firm. Ideally you have been making sure your leader is aware of your accomplishments throughout the year, but if it seems unclear, make sure you’ve written them down before the review.

2. Don’t set unrealistic compensation expectations

Do your due diligence to understand where your firm sits within the market and the ecosystem when it comes to compensation. Your role may be paid less if you are at a smaller firm, but come with other perks and benefits. There are many tangible and intangible ways to compensate. Some firms aren’t able to pay you market, but give you opportunities that larger firms can’t.

Understand your entire compensation package and not only the pay for your role outside the company, but how you line up within the company, before you bring it up in a performance review. Educate yourself and set realistic expectations when talking about compensation with your boss.

3. Don’t assume leadership knows your career aspirations

Most companies have mix of employees with a melting pot of personalities, backgrounds and ambitions. Some are anxious to climb the corporate ladder and not afraid to do what it takes to get there. On the flip side, employers will also across good employees who are very satisfied coming to work each day, getting their job done, collecting a paycheck and rinsing, washing and repeating. Both types of employees are valuable, but sometimes they aren’t always obvious and, since your boss isn’t a mind reader, you can’t assume they know your goals and aspirations. Make sure to communicate this to your leaders and allies throughout the year, it’s important they know where you want to be and (hopefully) help you map out a plan to get there. Same goes with compensation, they won’t know you feel unhappy about your current package or environment unless you speak up.

4. Don’t limit yourself to the review process

Realistically the review “process” should be a year-round conversation so that when the “official” review happens, there are no surprises for either party. Communicate on a regular basis about what you are doing, communicate openly and make sure you track your projects. When you embark on a new project, don’t just do it in hopes of advancement, but put your all in to it to build credibility, respect and support your team. If you’re doing it just for recognition, it will show through.

5. Don’t forget that careers are driven by relationships

This topic deserves it’s own spotlight, but we’ll save that for another day. Remember that advancing your career has a lot to do with the relationships you build, how well you get along with others, and your attitude. That’s why “hire for attitude, train for skill” has been a common saying in the workplace as studies show that only 11 percent of new hire failures lose their job due to technical incompetence. That means, no matter how well you perform, it will be overshadowed if your soft skills aren’t in tact. Remember this before your review, during, and after as you continue to drive your career forward.