I worked almost three years for a company that was as tight fisted as they come. They hired the cheapest staff they could find and hoped they would grow into the positions. A lot did, but many did not. It was a good place to start and you moved up fast if you wanted to.
One of the side effects of their hiring practices was that many of the staff under valued themselves (and each other) and believed there just lucky to be working. A client I was working with gave me some hints on how to negotiate with my employer and explained what kind of profit margins they were making.
Performance appraisals were done in December when they handed out less-than-inflation-rate raises. I started looking for another position in September and had one by October that was better money but less responsibility. I let my boss know I had an offer that I wanted and asked for my performance appraisal early. Performance appraisals are a different kind of animal when you have an offer of employment inyour pocket.
I stayed and it worked out well for both me and the employer. In fact, I did the same thing for two more appraisals. They did not hold it against me, instead they viewed it as a legitimate negotiating tool. Be warned that not all employers will.
Hint: If you are going to try and get a better result from your performance appraisal in this way, do it when your manager(s) are doing the budget, not after it has already been decided. That is when your manager can be the most creative negotiating with you. After the budget has been set, the chance for creative negotiations will be reduced.
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