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How to Discuss Salary in Performance Appraisals

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Salary increases are often predicated on a positive performance evaluation. If your boss thinks you're performing up to or above standards, and you get high marks during an assessment, it opens the door to a conversation about increasing your salary. If you're a manager, be prepared for staffers to bring up the topic of money during an assessment, and know in advance what you can and can't provide.

Complete the Appraisal

Let your boss go through the entire performance evaluation before bringing up the issue of salary. This gives you an opportunity to assess if the boss has any concerns about your performance, and it allows you to remind him of the contributions you've made to the company during the assessment period. If you have the opportunity to evaluate your own performance, focus on statistics and numbers that show specific achievements, like exceeding sales goals.

Be Prepared

Do some research before your performance evaluation so you have statistics to back up your raise request. For example, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website and read through the Bureau of Labor wage statistics. This reference guide provides salary ranges across a wide variety of professions, and can help you support your case for an increased salary. Aim a little higher than where you ultimately want to be raise-wise to give yourself room for negotiation.

Make a Confident Request

In most performance evaluations, the employee has the opportunity to ask questions and clarify issues. As long as everything in your performance review is positive, use this opportunity to thank your boss for his time, his feedback, and the opportunity to work for the company. Say you appreciate that your contributions are acknowledged, and based on the performance evaluation, and the new goals you have set for the next assessment period, you’d like to discuss a salary increase. Present your research and ask for the raise.

Overcome Objections

Your boss is likely to respond in one of two ways. He may counter your offer or try to make a case that there's no money in the budget for a raise. Attempt to bolster your position by revisiting the financial impact of the contributions you made to the company during the assessment period. If your boss resists or comes back with a figure much lower than what you're seeking, try to compromise by asking for additional perks, like extra vacation days. If you still meet a stone wall, get your boss’s word that you’ll revisit the salary issue within a few month's time.

Salary Discussion for Managers

If you're a manager conducting a performance evaluation, you know a positive assessment is often followed by a raise request. If a salary bump is something you're able to do, use it as a form of positive reinforcement. "I believe the additional responsibilities you've taken on and the increased sales you generated should be financially rewarded." If the employee is not performing well, or you don't have the budget for a raise, state your case firmly. Describe what performance improvements have to be made for the employee to qualify for a raise, or, if the employee is deserving, look for other perks. Consider a title change, extra paid days off or a bigger office.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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