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April 20, 2021

Want to negotiate in 2021? Do this NOW.

I often hear from awesome women who say something like, “My annual review is in a week, and I’d like to ask for a promotion/raise/etc.  What’s the best way to do that?”.  Unfortunately, that close to the negotiation, there’s a good chance the bus has already left the station. 

What do I mean by that?  Without having objective metrics, people tend to rely on unconscious bias to make decisions.  Unfortunately, unconscious bias in the workplace often rewards men, not women – you may have heard about the famous study where men are promoted based on potential, and women on demonstrated performance. 

So if you think you may want to ask for a promotion, raise, etc. during your annual review, the best thing you can do is set up a pre-meeting now.  Meet with your boss, review your accomplishments and then share your desire, “I think I can create even more impact at the Director level.  What would I need to show in order to qualify for that promotion at the end of the year?”. 

The goal here is to walk away with a very clear list of things you need to do.  You may ask a few rounds of clarifying questions to get there: “what would that look like?” “do you think improving X account by 15% would demonstrate that?” “is there anyone else I need to convince?”.   After this meeting, send your boss a note on what you heard in the discussion:

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.  As you know, we were able to accomplish x, y, and z last year, and I think we are on track to deliver _______.  As we discussed, I enjoy my job and am looking for ways to increase my impact and make it to the Director level.  Based on our conversation, I understand I will need to demonstrate a, b and c to be considered for promotion. 

Looking forward to continuing to work together,


Once you have the list, it becomes your rubric, your game plan, your marching orders.  Just check those off, one-by-one.  Each time you do, drop your boss a note: “Guess what?!  We delivered a 10% increase in sales over last year!  I’m so proud of the team.” Check. This not only reinforces your performance, but also creates an easily searchable paper trail when you manager is writing your review.

As one my friends used to say, “give me a list, or promote me now.”

What other tips do you have for a successful pre-meeting?



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