Your performance at work has never been better, and you’re feeling great. Does your manager feel the same way — and does he or she think it merits a raise? Your annual review is the perfect time to find out.
But what if your team or company doesn’t have a formal review process?
You guessed it — you can ask for it.
Before you rush to send that calendar invite, consider the following questions:
What’s your motivation for asking for a review? Discussing your compensation is certainly valid. Do you know what the budget cycle is for your company? If not, try to find out or make sure to ask. Of course, pay isn’t the only good reason to set aside time to talk about your performance. Do you have a formal or informal system for giving and receiving feedback with your colleagues? This could include weekly check in meetings or project post-mortems. Getting real-time feedback is as valuable as looking back at broader trends in your work over the past year.
Do you have specific questions prepared? A broad prompt like, “How do you think I’m doing?” isn’t likely to yield you substantive results. Keep in mind that you likely have far more details about your daily tasks than your manager does, so don’t be shy when it comes to letting him or her know what you’ve been up to. I keep track of my accomplishments with a to-done list instead of a to-do list: it’s a simple bulleted list of what I’ve completed, rather than a list of what needs doing. Be ready to share your analysis of your projects, and then ask targeted follow up questions like “What’s one area where you think I need to improve, and what steps can I take to work on it?”
Are you aligned on priorities going forward? Reviews aren’t just useful for looking back; they’re a great opportunity to calibrate on goals. Knowing what’s most important to your manager helps you focus your efforts and set yourself up for the future. It’s also your opportunity to speak up about what matters to you and the areas where you’d like to progress. Ask your manager how he or she measures success and make sure you’re both clear on what the priorities are.
Now that you’ve put some thought into your preparation, how should you bring it up to your manager?
One thing to get clear on in advance, if possible, is why there isn’t a review process in the first place. It’s one thing if you work at a new startup that’s moving so quickly they haven’t put formal processes in place. But if there’s cultural resistance or some other form of pushback, be ready to discuss the elephant in the room in a thoughtful and respectful way, making your case for why you think a review would be valuable.
As tempting as it is to dash off a quick email or instant message, this is a good subject to bring up face to face. Show that you’ve put thought into this meeting and explain why you think taking the time for a review would be valuable to both you and them. If you want to discuss compensation, make sure to mention that in advance. Your request might catch your manager off guard, especially if there’s no formal review process. Give him or her time to process before suggesting a meeting date.
This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals.