• Jackie Mitchell

'Prep Talk' #1 - 4 Strategies to Prepare for Your Performance Review

(WARNING: This post is rated PG for language and straight 'forwardness' 😉 )

Performance Reviews occur yearly so it's surprising to me that most employees are still caught off guard or believe that they do not need to do anything to prepare for this conversation.

Be prepared!

If you're serious about your career and want to learn how to get in the driver's seat, grab your favorite cup of joe and get comfy because we're about to dive in... deep.

Here are 4 Strategies to make sure you’re

Prepared for your Performance Review:

#1 Preparation begins the previous year

YES. Prepare the year before by aligning to the goals you set with your manager the previous year. Each year, work towards your goals. Check off tasks that go along with each goal that was set for your development. (Now that you know this, you will be preparing this year for next year's review.)

Schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss how you can take your career to the next level. This must be done anywhere from 3 to 6 months prior to our review. The earlier the better.

This meeting's objective will be called, 'Goal Setting'. DO NOT explicitly state that this is to talk about career advancement. You're creating a win-win solution with strategy! So frame the conversation around goals and becoming a top performer for the company. You want to follow these steps in your meeting(s).

Ask this:

What would make me a top performer?”
  • Once you ask your manager, ‘what would make me a top performer?’, make sure they quantify exactly what that means. Keep asking questions until you are clear what it means to them and how they will measure it. This is not a one-sided conversation.

  • DO NOT discuss compensation at this point.

  • Come to the meeting prepared with your own details on what makes a top performer in your role and at your organization. Discuss what that means to you as well. This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for the following steps.

DO NOT PASS GO Until you are 100% clear here.

  • Come to the 'table' with a list of quantifiable goals. When you do this, there is little room to debate whether or not you met your goals. Either you did or you didn’t. It's black and white. No ambiguities!

Now, here's the money talk. We’re planting the seed right here below:

#2 Set Expectations

Now that you had the initial conversation about goals and being a top performer, ask the question:

What do I need to do to get a salary increase?’ and ‘What performance metrics should I meet or exceed.’

Also, you should know what the company’s policy is on salary increases. Is there a scale? Is it subjective? Are there any budgetary constraints in your department? Do your research.

Setting expectations:

  • Discuss the expectation that compensation will be tied to you exceeding your defined goals. This makes sure that your manager knows that you will be discussing compensation in your next meeting -- in about 3 months (quarterly is my recommendation).

#3 What have you done for them lately?

Remember, this isn't all about you. Well... it is and it isn't. Remember, we create Win-Win solutions, right? So...

What significant accomplishments have you made? What contributions to your company's successes have you made? Better yet, how have you made your manager's life easier at work?

Have you kept a record of your wins, your successes, your responsibilities, and your impact? Again, you should be keeping a record of all of this. This way, you have metrics and proof to back up what you’ve done and the value you continuously add. Track your progress towards your goals.

Next, have the conversation with your manager about where you are with your goals and how you've constantly and consistently exceeded them.

Whatever you do, DO NOT BRING UP THAT YOU’VE BEEN WORKING MORE THAN 40 HOURS PER WEEK. That does not matter here or anywhere else. You're not going to like me for saying this but, when do I pander to your ego? Results don't lie and nothing else matters. Not even that you've been working late and starting early. It's all about results.

If you haven’t shown significant results. Extra hours do not equate to added value. It may backfire on you and possibly reveal that you may have poor time management skills. If so, we should talk.

Remember those quantifiable goals you set? Hit them out of the park! Meet them AND exceed them. Check in with yourself every 3 months. Make sure your goals are milestone driven and that you can complete within 3 months. If it is a large goals, again, break it down into bite size milestones (every 3 months) so that you can incrementally show your progression.


80% of the work happens before your meeting. This is when you become a TOP PERFORMER.

  • You must become a TOP PERFORMER! A Badass! A Rockstar! Use the skills you have to the best of your ability and make your manager’s life easier!

  • Regularly ask yourself, ‘What are 3 to 5 things am I doing today that align directly to my goals?’ Always stay focused on your goals. ALWAYS. Especially since compensation is tied to it.

  • Now ask yourself, ‘What or who will help me exceed these goals?’ Again, compensation is tied to these goals. You want a sizeable pay increase and you are in control of the outcome. Seek help, direction, and guidance where you need it.

  • When you exceed the expectations you've set for yourself, set up a meeting with your manager to give them an update on your win and the results and value it has brought to the company or department, or even your manager. Do this quarterly. By doing this, it keeps you top of mind and your achievements clear.

  • With proof of you exceeding your goals, Your manager really has no excuse regarding performance to decline to an increase. Make it difficult for them to decline based on performance. Any other reason can be negotiated even if it's budgetary. Either way, you come out winning. Why? Because let's say for budgetary reasons they cannot offer you a raise. You can seek other opportunities. And you have now made yourself even more marketable with your new skills, experience, and quantifiable accomplishments.

  • Discuss your goals and show empirically how you’ve exceeded them. You have proof. This is where your regular meetings are so important. You being a badass will not come as a surprise because you’ve been discussing your 'badassery' all along but doing it in a way that highlights the benefit to the company, the department, or even your manager.

  • Next, discuss your desire to increase your responsibilities and your role. Again, accomplishing and exceeding goals that add value and increase skill, will help move this conversation forward. List additional responsibilities you want to take on. Create a 30/60/90 day plan for those responsibilities. An example would be to take some the work off of your manager - what is it that they don't like doing? Where can you plug yourself in to get that job done for them?

You’re basically creating your own job description. Who doesn’t want to do that? Make it beneficial for you, the company, and your manager.

Remember, Win-Win Solutions!

#4 Be prepared for ANYTHING

Have you thought of what you’d do if your review wasn’t favorable and didn’t go the way you anticipated? Are you ready to refute or rebut your unfavorable review if you get blindsided? Are you ready to re-negotiate your salary with counter offers? Have you assessed whether or not the company still meets your needs? Have you outgrown your role? Have you outgrown the company? Assess where you are and be prepared for just about anything.


NOW it’s time to discuss real compensation.

Take a deep breath.

You got this!

You’ve been putting in the work and having major 'badassery' success. You’ve been gauging your manager’s response to you along the way. This isn’t a surprise conversation.

BUT… be prepared for absolutely anything. You will win regardless of the outcome.

This money talk is now based on what you've done as a top performer and what you've done with more responsibilities. Now that your manager sees how badass you are, and how dependable and reliable you are in making their lives easier at work, they will not want to lose you.

there may be some hesitation and push back. That’s normal in any money conversation. But remember, their pushback is not your problem! Remember, you're a badass and you should be compensated as such. You are not the average, standard employee. You've exceeded expectations and you’ve shown that repeatedly. So, someone who's doing an extraordinary job like you, must be compensated appropriately.

$5k to 10k or more per year is not much to retain a top performer. But you’re not going to go for the lower end of the range. You're a bad ass and you've proven that. You are in a position where you're not only valuable to them but to many other companies. REMEMBER THAT!

Whew! You made it to the end. I've given you A LOT to digest. I know. But this only scratches the surface.

Want to continue reading and learn how to have this conversation, how to handle pushback, and how you truly win either way? Schedule your FREE Career Strategy Call HERE:

See you back here next Sunday when we continue on with Lesson #2 - Preparing for Negotiations.

Jackie Mitchell Career Consulting | Career Coaching and Life Coaching
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