By Carole Chambers

If your company operates on a fiscal schedule, it’s likely this advice is too late. Your review is either already in the books or scheduled for sometime in the next week or two. If you do still have some time to prepare, then heed what you read and hustle to pull together as much as you can in the time you have left. If nothing else, tickle this on your calendar to review again next January.

For those who have their performance appraisal scheduled at the end or the very beginning of the calendar year, you’ve got time to evaluate yourself, collaborate with others and formulate a plan with your manager so you get what you want.

Start planning now. Decide what you want. Is it a promotion? A significant raise? Additional staff for your team? Better balance between work and home? More resources? Whatever it is, here are some steps to consider as you create the plan to get what you want at your annual review:

  • If you do not already have a midyear review scheduled, initiate a calendar invite when your boss will not be rushed or distracted. Make it crystal clear in the invitation that you want to discuss promotion, compensation increases, etc. Write a notation such as “I’d like to discuss my future goals and opportunity for income increases (or opportunities for promotion) and create a plan, with your help, to achieve both.
  • Determine how you want to articulate it to your boss. “After learning more about X and Y, I’ve discovered I am most interested in X and would like to learn what I need to do in order to be considered for that role.”
  • Prepare in advance and prepare continuously by keeping a file or folder on your wins. Park any compliments or “atta-girls” in an email folder and keep a hard file for letters, notes, awards, etc. Initiate a new file annually.
  • If you don’t sport a bright halo or a pair of angelic wings, you’ll need to prepare a folder or file for lessons learned. Track what you’ve overcome regarding missteps, mistakes, missed opportunities, and even difficult challenges and failures. Be prepared to share, if asked, how you will avoid repeating them in the future.
  • Answer the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) question. Explain your goals and plans and how they will benefit the company and possibly even your boss. Keep the focus on the value you bring – not on a litany of tasks you’ve performed. Share how you’ve increased revenue, reduced costs, increased customer base, positively impacted company culture to retain/recruit employees, reduced labor through improved efficiencies, etc.
  • In a recent conversation with a mentee who was preparing for her review, she estimated her worth based on all the tasks she performed. She was so busy. She did so much. She did more than most. Unless you demonstrate how you influence outcomes for more profit, more customers, more leads, less overhead, etc., you’re not standing out from the crowd of others wanting a raise or promotion as much as you do.
  • According to the Harvard Business Review, women should reframe a negotiation as though they are negotiating on behalf of a group or other individuals by adopting a “relational” or “I-we” strategy, in which they show concern for another person’s or group’s perspective. HBR says “it can minimize the social cost of negotiation.” I’m not sure I agree with that strategy. Why should women have to minimize their skill during a negotiation? To appear more nurturing and less assertive? Really?
  • I do think framing the ask with a benefit statement makes sense. So rather than simply saying you’d like the company to help pay for your MBA, you could say, “With the additional skills I’ll gain in an MBA program, I’ll be able to help you with more challenging projects so you can focus on more high-level strategies to take the business to the next level.”
  • Do your research. Sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, PayScale and Palmer Group for a local perspective can be helpful. Just don’t use the information as your only reason to get a raise. That can become a slippery slope, ending in a crash landing.

Use this midyear meeting to establish goals and gain a clear understanding of what success looks like. Follow up with an email reiteration of your request to your manager and the plan you’ve created together to get you to the finish line. Confirm understanding and agreement.

Each time you accomplish a milestone on the “to do” list, send your manager an email, not only letting her know what you’ve done, but also thanking her for her guidance. “I’m grateful we were able to meet in July regarding my development and the groundwork I need to do to earn future opportunities. I know you’ll be pleased to learn that I’ve completed A and B and I’m already seeing results in my ability to better communicate with others because of it. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and for making the recommendations we put into my plan.”

You’ve got five to six months to develop a strategy and position yourself for a successful year-end review. So get going. The clock is ticking. Tick. Tick. Tick …

Carole Chambers is the Career Center coordinator at Dress for Success. She recruits Success Coach volunteers to join her in assisting women with resume writing and interview preparation. She can be reached at