Tarun Kohli

@tarun_kohli

What to do when your annual salary increment sucks

Whatta jerk!

You are seething with anger and say these words quietly under your breath. And, walk away with extremely heavy footsteps from the meeting room.

You feel undervalued, hurt, misunderstood, unappreciated.

How the hell could this happen to me?

How could you let the entire year pass working for someone who doesn’t get you? Someone who doesn’t appreciate you? Is he out of his mind? How would he ever run this project, group or company without me? How could you not get the top performer salary increment that you were hoping for?

Because, let’s face it, ahem…salary is the only indicator to know if we are valued within the company. Right?

I’ve sometimes witnessed the happiest of employees getting disillusioned if they didn’t get the salary percentage increment they were expecting. Even though, everything in their professional life would be fine — the same colleagues, work culture, decent work, appreciating stock options, same working conditions.

All of us typically go through the cycle of — Blaming the inconsiderate manager. Blaming the out-of-touch-from-reality-people running talent management. Blaming the blood sucking company.

Except ourselves.

Most of the salary increments lie squarely on our shoulders. On our yearly performance!

Barring few exceptions where the company hands are generally tied to give out bigger increments like economic doom and gloom, company’s bottom line, sluggish top line growth, expansion of the talent gene pool in the market etc.

Wouldn’t it be better to pause, reflect and look at our yearly performance from the lens of people who manage us? One has to be a fool to let a high performer go merely because of few thousands of dollars.

Don’t you think that there has to be something which held the manager back from giving a top salary increment? Wouldn’t it be better to think whose loss it might be if the employee was to walk away and get a job outside?

Yeah, you guessed it right. The Manager.

So the manager decided to not give you the top performer increment, despite the odds stacked up against him and you are unhappy with the result.

So, what’s the way out?

a) Get back to your desk. Apply for leave. Call few friends. Get a new job. Adios sucker!

b) Sulk. Let your peers know. Be forever unhappy. Never miss an opportunity to stick it to your manager. Let him know that you would never forget this.

c) Take deep breath. Introspect. Talk to your manager. Find out what went wrong?

Depending on your life stage — both options a and c are fine. That said, if you truly want to grow and still have some respect for your manager left then option c would get you the best bang for your professional development buck.

It doesn’t hurt to ask — “Where do you think I went so terribly wrong to not get a top performer increment? Also, what makes a top performer?”

Then sit back and listen.

You might not agree to some of what might be described. You would instinctively would want to discuss. Share your viewpoint. Defend yourself.

But, wait.

It’s their viewpoint. You aren’t there to correct. You are there to listen regarding how your manager perceived your performance.

Then reflect on the feedback.

Did you always go over and above your commitments? Or, you had to be reminded for deadlines?

Was your work consistently of high quality? Or, you had some colossal failures?

Did you exhibit curiosity and willingness to grow? Or, were you complacent?

Was your shit in order? Or, was it always hitting the fan?

Did you always admit your mistakes head on? Or, were you always the scapegoat?

Did you take initiative? Or, were you always being told?

Did you surface problems proactively and seek solutions? Or, problems always found you.

Were you there to help your team members? Or, were they taking on your load?

Once you reflect objectively, it wouldn’t take you long to realize what potentially went wrong.

And, if you are one of the kinds who do realize that it was your not-so-stellar performance then there is only one path from there. Setup a follow-up meeting with your manager.

Ask — “what would it take you to rate me as your top performer?

Discuss your KRAs in detail.

Discuss your manager’s expectations.

The behaviors that he admires in professionals.

Discuss what perfection looks like to him

Share your ambitions and goals and see if there could be a match made in heaven between them and your manager’s expectations.

If you fundamentally agree to what’s being discussed then do your absolute best to be on top of everything. Shine. Like a star.

Do frequent check-ins through out the year to see if you are going over and above the expectations.

Wait for an year. See if you get the top performer rating and salary increment that you were hoping for.

If you think it’s too much hard work then option a of looking for job doesn’t seem that bad either.

To the people who read till the last line….you must be thinking what happens if you still don’t get the top performer rating and desired salary increment the next year.

You could always say — “Damn, I was right! Whatta jerk!”

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