This post originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com.
If your year-end review, bonus, or raise has recently been shared, and you are disappointed at the outcome, here are 3 steps to take now
- Find out if the problem is specific to you or general across the company
Were reviews just tough all around? Did everyone get a puny bonus and/or raise? Checking to see if the bad news affected everyone isn’t to absolve you of trying to improve but it’s to make you aware if your company is in trouble. You want to focus your efforts on the right problem. If it’s the company in general, then you can focus your efforts on getting to a stronger, more stable company rather than focusing on fixing where you are.
- Take a hard look at your own performance and self-promotion efforts
If the company did give out bonuses, healthy raises, and/or strong reviews to others, then you have to look at your performance. Do you have tangible proof that you did good work (e.g., congratulatory emails from colleagues, clients, or vendors)? Can you point to specific positive outcomes to which you contributed that benefited the company? If, after doing this research, you see that the review, raise and/or bonus that you received doesn’t reflect what you accomplished, then you need to do more self-promotion. You may be doing good enough work but if you aren’t telling anybody, then that won’t get factored into review, raise, or bonus decisions.
- Ask for reconsideration now, not just next year
If the company indeed could have given you more and your self-review makes you confident you indeed deserved more, then schedule a meeting to ask for reconsideration within the next 30 days. You don’t need to stew in silence and wait till next year’s review cycle. It may be that all of the raise/ bonus pool is spent, but at least you set the stage for next year and at best there might be money still available.
It always is a good idea to pay attention to opportunities outside your company. Just because you are open to opportunities doesn’t mean you are disloyal because you don’t have to accept other jobs. Even if you decide to stay where you are, exploring options will give you market knowledge, expand your network, and give you confidence that you could leave if you wanted to.