As my colleague Margaret O’Hanlon has blogged at the Compensation Cafe, merit budgets in 2009 are tiny: the upshot is that most employees won’t see a salary increase. At a time of 10.2% national unemployment, the goods news for the folks who have them is that they have a job – the bad news is they’ll see no compensation reward for hard work and performance this past year.
So is it all gloom and doom from this year’s performance review process? No!
And here’s 3 things you should get from this year’s performance and compensation review process:
1 – Rich, Helpful Feedback: Good feedback has two sides, and two elements on each side. Here’s what they are and why you should make sure you get plenty of both. And since money won’t be much of an issue, you’ll have less distraction and can focus on the things that will drive performance for you in the future.
Here’s the feedback that I’d want to get:
First, what am I doing that works well (identified impact / outcomes, and the behaviors/actions that I used to reach those outcomes? Second, what am I doing that you (supervisor) or I (employee) or others (peers, senior managers, customers, or suppliers) wished were different (outcomes / impact that were different and / or the behaviors / actions that got to those outcomes that were different)?
Avoid settling for anything less since it’s your performance that will theoretically be tied to any compensation changes in the future. And as you’ll see from points #2 and #3 below, that rich, helpful, “feedback” – as Ken Blanchard has noted – “is the breakfast of champions.”
2 – Training & Development Budget for You: While an organizations costs come out of the metaphorical same pair of pants, companies frequently treat expenses such as base salary increases/ bonuses and things like training and development as coming out of separate pairs of pockets. While there may be no money for merit / base pay increases, there may be money for training and development. Ask for it.
See if you can get full or partial (if you won’t invest in yourself with your own money or time who will?) support for things such as conferences, coaching (people like me), classes and seminars. When I worked internally I split costs for an outside executive coach with the firm with whom I worked: it was one of the best investments I made in myself.
And here’s why good feedback – #1 above – is critical for you: because it helps to know what your boss or you think you need to do to develop further. Your peers inside and outside the company may be (or may be not) standing still during these hard economic times: many likely will be hanging out like some scene in The Waiting Place from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Taking care now that you move forward is one of the best things you can do to move your career forward.
3 – Development Opportunities: Sometimes the leverage point for you is not in hiring an exec coach (I know, hard to believe) or taking a class, but rather the chance to tackle a challenging assignment or work on a project team with people or situations from whom you can learn. It might even be something like volunteering at a non-profit in a role that stretches you in a way that benefits your company and you.
So the request here is time – time on another project, and sponsored time away from the company to work on things that benefit you AND your employer. And – consistent with above – it might even be paid time that’s split between you and your firm.
Cut to the chase:
Tougher economic times demand greater creativity and awareness than when times are easier. There are advantages that go with being more creative about how to get more out of your career – and skills to be carried forward when “normal” times – whatever that is – return.
Anna Chenault once said that “Equal opportunity is good, but special privilege even better.” Figuring out how to manage your career, particularly in tough times, is that special privilege that separates people who understand the importance of continually trying from those who don’t.