The Performance Review Secret

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Mar 17

Your performance review has a big secret: your salary and bonus are determined before writing your performance review.

There’s a good reason performance reviews are written after the rating is submitted. It is because your manager doesn’t know your final rating until after the completion of the budget for salaries and bonuses. The early ratings are reviewed by management and budgets are applied to the ratings. The ratings – and your salary and bonus – change based on the budget. Finally, a rating is determined and agreed to by management. Only then can your manager write your performance review.

What is a Cubicle Warrior to do to influence your salary and bonus?

Know the Performance Review cutoffs in your company

Big companies can’t turn performance reviews around on a dime. They need time to settle ratings, collect them between departments and have financial impacts completed for the budget. Your last point of influence on your early rating is when initial ratings are due to the management team. Rarely do ratings go higher after this point; most of the time they stay the same or come back lowered.

If your performance review is given to you in the last two weeks in December, initial ratings are often due by the end of October. What you do in November and December is largely irrelevant to your performance rating. That is unless you work in the rare company that measures performance from “initial rating” to “initial rating.”

Update your performance for your Performance Review

A critical task of the Cubicle Warrior is to update their performance against the SMART goals of the review. By keeping current on your goal attainment, you will have ready information to provide your manager about your performance for the review. Most employees do not update their performance against their goals – or even question the goals given to them at the beginning of the year. By updating your goal attainment, you will be far ahead of your peers in showing your performance to your manager.

Write your Performance Review

Many companies ask that you write your own performance review. If you are given the opportunity, do so. Your self-review will usually be the only summary of your performance your manager has before giving your rating to management. If you write a great and honest self-review, you will provide solid documentation – usually the only documentation – that your manager has to remember your great accomplishments.

Writing your performance review is critical to influencing your rating which is why we spend time teaching you How to write your performance review.

Just because your rating is determined before you are given a performance review is no reason you can’t go and influence your rating. You need to have accomplishments, of course, but communicating your performance can make the difference between an average and an above-average rating. And salary increase. And bonus amount.

How else can you influence your rating?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.