Monday, October 15, 2012

Making the most of your yearly performance and pay review

I've written previously about what a performance review should be like herebut the topic of reviews is worth some elaboration.  There are two primary things to remember about a performance review: one, it should be a conversation between you and the managers/colleagues/people reviewing you; and two, its focus should be on the three Ps: performance, plans, and pay.
  • Performance: What is your job description, and how well are you carrying out the tasks outlined in that job description?  What have you enjoyed doing in the past year?  What did you learn to do better?  What did you struggle with?  What do you need more practice doing?  What were processes, etc. that worked for you this year, and what didn't?
  • Plans: Are you pursuing IDP and/or licensure?  How far along are you?  What hours are you still lacking to finish IDP?  If you're taking tests, how far along are you?  Are you planning to acquire any other accreditations (e.g. LEED AP, EDAC, etc.)?
  • Pay: What increase in pay if any are you receiving?  Upon what criteria is that raise (or lack thereof) based?
That last point is one that I want to hammer home, but with a caveat.  If you want to ask for a certain level of raise, that's fine.  But you have to be prepared in multiple ways.  First, review the AIA's job descriptions and figure out which one you most closely resemble (Intern 2, Unlicensed Architect I, etc.).  Then research what people at your perceived level and in your type/size of firm in your geographical area typically earn.  (Supposedly, there are copies of the 2011 AIA Compensation Report floating around on the internet.  I wouldn't know--I paid for mine.)  Then, play a little devil's advocate with yourself--what might be the counterarguments against you getting the raise or income that you believe you've earned?  Figure out a professional response to those arguments.

I know interns talk to each other about what they make, and good on them for not keeping secrets about that. Having said that, I'm cautious of walking into a review and saying, "Well, I do the same stuff that So-and-So does, and I know she makes 10% more than I do."  You may very well hear what it is that So-and-So does a whole lot better than you, and it might not be something you want to hear. If you're willing to hear the truth and learn from it, then fire away.  (It's more acceptable to say that you're aware that some of your colleagues with very similar job descriptions and experience levels make x% more than you.)  

The main piece of advice I can give in a review is to remain professional and grateful.  Avoid defensiveness--if given an inaccurate or exaggerated criticism, respectfully disagree and ask for specifics.  If your raise isn't what you were hoping, say thank you very much and then follow it with, "It's not quite what I was hoping for--I'd like to think about that a bit and get back to you."  Your ability to be professional and have tact and diplomacy in a tense situation can be the thing that sets you apart from your colleagues, and a review is as good a time to show your skills as any.

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