After your performance review, you've received feedback, and you've talked about next steps going forward. Afterwards, at the end of the review (or perhaps at a later meeting), you've stated your requested increase, and management has countered with a lower amount. This smaller amount is accepted.

After a review has finished and the meeting has concluded, what options are still available for negotiation? Are items not addressed in the meeting (vacation time, an office, other perks) something that can be later leveraged? Or by accepting and finishing the meeting, nothing else can be negotiated?

  • To be clear, this is a question about negotiating some sort of compensation, and it just happened to be presented to you at the end of your performance review? It's not about what was/was not said in your review itself. – jcmeloni Feb 25 '13 at 18:43
  • Yeah, this is about negotiating points that were not touched on at all during the review. For me, specifically, that would be things like extra vacation time, or an office of my own, or things like that. – fbueckert Feb 25 '13 at 18:44
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    You should probably rework this question. From reading the wall of text It reads like a semi rant, and I do not know what it is you are trying to achieve. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 25 '13 at 18:50
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    Does that clarify it at all? Obviously, I have a somewhat personal stake, but I guess context isn't really needed to answer the question. – fbueckert Feb 25 '13 at 23:48

Performance review meetings are supposed to be about performance. What you describe is your manager keeping the meeting on subject. If you had tried to steer the subject away from your performance and toward compensation, that would probably have been seen as you trying to avoid the subject of your performance. You certainly should not have tried to negotiate your compensation in the middle of a performance review. However there is nothing to prevent you setting up another meeting to discus your compensation. In fact now is probably the best time to do it - right after you have been told your compensation.

Negotiating salary in your current job is tricky, because you essentially only have one card in your hand - quitting and finding another job. There have been plenty of other questions about how to negotiate salary, so I won't cover it now. Essentially you need to convince your boss that you are worth more than you are getting. You can and should express your dissatisfaction, and tell him how much you think you are worth. All this is assuming that your performance review was a good one - if not then working on improving it is going to be much better than negotiation.

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  • Almost every performance review I've been in have been about discussing performance, and then steer it to compensation after that; the two tend to go hand in hand, don't they? – fbueckert Feb 25 '13 at 19:15
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    @fbueckert: at some companies, yes. At others, no. – Carson63000 Feb 25 '13 at 20:07

As an employee, you are inherently limited regarding the amount of compensation negotiation you can successfully achieve. Payroll expenses tend to be monitored a lot closer than capital expenses, both from a budgetary perspective and a tax perspective. If you were a contractor, you would have considerably more leeway regarding how much you could command and tying it directly to your performance and contribution to the company's successes.

That being said, negotiating salary as an employee is not impossible, but you really only have your continued association with the company as a bargaining chip. The only thing I would have done differently is not disclose the dollar amount that would "make me happy" before I received the amount of the increase from my manager. Hearing what they are willing to offer me gives me additional information regarding my perceived value to the organization, their appreciation for my contribution, and how strongly they wish to motivate me to continue my hard work for the coming year. If I feel the appreciation is still wanting, consideration in kind (like work environment improvements, telecommuting, and comp time) are non-financial benefits which are easier to grant from a executive perspective, but peer perceptions may make it difficult to implement.

We all believe we are worth more than we receive on our paychecks, and, for the most part, we're right. However, we also need to realize that when we accept a company's salary offer to join their team, we have established a baseline which will be hard, but not impossible, to exceed after the first year without a marked change in your duties, as in a promotion. I have worked for companies where I received a merit increase in excess of the stated maximum percentages for the first year, because I brought considerably more to the table than they were expecting when they hired me. Each subsequent year, however, my raises fell right in line with the established range.

I'm not deterring you from commanding the salary you feel you deserve. I'm just trying to make you aware of what it looks like from the other side of the desk.

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  • One of the troubles with pay increases is that sometimes once you they are handed out they are a lot of trouble to change. If you don't disclose the dollar amount that would make you happy then you run the risk of not being given it and it being impossible to change without you having to threaten to leave. – DJClayworth Feb 26 '13 at 1:20
  • One way around that is to inquire well in advance whether or not the amount of the increase can be discussed prior to acceptance. In my experience, the increase was never administered until I signed the review documentation. Once I was actually able to negotiate additional compensation, but it required going up the chain of command. I was able to justify the bump, but it made for a difficult nine months between my manager and me. I ended up having to find another job (my choice). Depending on the company, that may be the easiest way to get exactly what you feel you're worth. – Neil T. Feb 26 '13 at 1:32

It sounds like you asked for several things, you got offered half of what you asked for, and you were happy enough at the time to agree to it. A few questions for you to consider:

  1. Was this really a 'tactic' from your boss to screw you?
  2. Do you actually know your market value (and if so, why did you already happily accept something below that level)?
  3. Is the issue really about money, (not just wanting to feel like you 'won' the negotiation)?

If the answer to the above questions is 'no' or 'I don't know', tread carefully. For instance, if you think your boss was being devious and trying to screw you, but in reality he thought he was giving you the best he could given his constraints, any negotiation is going to end poorly (if he is friendly and you come off adversarial, he is far less likely to concede anything, and you could lose a good working relationship). Same if you overstate your market value, or if you demand money when that isn't what is making you unhappy.

If the answer to all of the above is yes, schedule a meeting with your boss, prepare your talking points, and then write down your thoughts as follows:

  1. I will leave this company if I don't receive [listed items/amounts]
  2. More than anything I want to get [item] out of this negotiation
  3. I would be willing to trade [X money] for [Y benefits]
  4. I am willing to defer [Z] to next year

Figure out what your final position is (point 1), what you absolutely positively want to get most (point 2), what your value is for salary vs. benefits (point 3), and what items you need to get out of this negotiation for this year (point 4).

Realize that your boss may not be able to give you everything you want, and you may be better off having a real meeting ('how can I accomplish X, Y, and Z in the next year?') rather than having a negotiation (when you aren't sure he is the decision maker on those points).

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It's pretty unusual to invest multiple meetings in salary/benefits discussions in a job you are already employed in. At this point you and your employer know:

  • How your job performance is viewed relative to other employees
  • Last year's salary
  • The rules for other benefits

Unless you have a fairly unusual company, the rules about standard benefits - time off, health care, 401Ks, and other retirement/savings plans - are all part of the employee benfits, and not generally subject to negotiation on a case by case basis. There may be opportunities to change the tradeoffs here - for example, some companies will let you buy an extra week of vacation (more time off/less money) and thus change the nature of your benfits, but it's usually offered across all employees out of a sense of fairness/equality. Similarly, overtime/additional compensation policies are usually standardized for common cases.

Research your internal work policies on these. If they aren't clear or available, have a talk with your boss on what the policies are here BEFORE you go into anything like a negotiation. Given the standard nature of these, if you do go into a negotiation, be prepared for it to be a discussion of what you plan to give up to get what you want... not a way of getting additional compensation.

In terms of other perks - office, equipment, specialized work hours, etc. It's unusual for this to be part of a compensation type of negotiation. Here's a few cases where you may be able to work out something for yourself and some of the tradeoffs that are likely to be considered:

  • office - usually offices are status symbols as well as specialized work environments. To keep the case-by-case negotiation to a minimum, many companies connect office to job title/rank/seniority. It's worth asking the policies, and be prepared to address the fact that you're only likely to get a special exception if you have a special need ("I'm just an individual contributor, but I'm on the phone all day talking to a particularly difficult customer, which annoys everyone around me...")

  • equipment - almost always granted in cases of physical need (disability/health), but rarely as a perk. Managers typically weigh this against the "what if everyone asked for it?" rule unless you are (again) asking for a special case or for something communal ("I'd be less annoying talking to the difficult customer if I had a better headset that meant I didn't have to scream into the phone.")

  • work life balance conditions - being able to structure your hours or other work obligations to fit your particular lifestyle needs is always a fine discussion and can usually exist outside of performance/compensation negotiation. It can also be one of the best ways to increase job satisfaction and maximize something precious - your time. Work at home, non-standard office hours, etc. - are all fine discussions but may be covered by specific policies. This is often an area where managers may have latitude for high performing staff... so if that's you, it's worth pushing it. Caveat - however - that in cases of poor performance, many of this sort of perk is limited, because the manager in a place of needing you to prove that you can perform well under more or less standard conditions, so modifying those conditions in a performance issue is unlikely.

  • points given for awesome creativity - some of the best negotiations I've seen are startlingly creative and self-aware. One case in point was a coworker who got literally the whole campus 2 monitors by proving how much they improved efficiency and how well they worked. Or those who pioneered work at home, when it wasn't a typical thing. Getting something that other people have may be a tough negotiation, as there is already a policy or a model for making the decision... but getting the ability to do something wildly new and innovative can be a very different process. You may have a certain requirement to prove that your crazy idea will be a net benfit to the company, but such crazy ideas are exactly how we change the work force of today into the workforce of tomorrow.

As a general thought - don't hammer your manager looking for every nickel and dime. Collect your thoughts and have ONE discussion about non-monetary compensation. And don't do it every year. If you've taken on a big responsibility, transferred jobs/teams/projects, or just had a promotion - you've found a perfect time to "renegotiate" the tradeoffs that come with the greater workload or new role. It's also fair to talk through some of the work/life balances when you are going through a life change - "We're having a baby and I need to change..." - is a pretty typical case. But you don't have to be married and about to have kids... it can be grad school, sick parents, or just about anything as long as it is reasonable.

There's a frequency case, though - keeping the renegotiation of this stuff in and around job and life changes means that you have a clear and justifiable reason for asking. Approaching it on a purely time-based frequency (once a year), can come off as simply trying to milk the company for everything you can get. While the tradeoff of working for pay is obviously something one does for self-motivated reasons, it can feel rough as a manager to think that your folks are spending most of their time trying to figure out their best ways to maximize their profits.

There's one other case that works well however - having a job in hand. Saying "I'm not happy here, and I have a better offer" can work wonders... but only within the flexibility available to your boss. If your work is not absolutely pivotal to the company, then it is unlikely that you will upend policies that are sweeping and universally applied.

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