Make an airtight case for a raise

It's performance review time, and you think you deserve a pay hike. Prove it by providing documentation to show you're worth the big bucks. Katy Yocom shares some tips on how to gather your arsenal of facts and figures for your next appraisal.

When review time rolls around, pity the person who doesn’t work in a numbers-oriented job. It’s easy to prove you deserve a raise if you increased sales by 8 percent last year. But just try convincing your boss to fork over the big bucks when all you have to offer is, “But my students tell me I’m the best gosh-darned trainer they’ve ever had!”

Here are some insights on how training professionals can prove their worth at review time. The key: Plan ahead—way ahead—and document everything.

Get it on paper
  • Keep track of customer evaluations. “I keep copies of all evaluations and compile the results for each evaluation item,” said Jeff Kerfeld, training manager (and one-man training department) for software vendor Spanlink Communications . “My personal goals are set against these results as a way to quantify my objectives.” By using this tactic, your goals can be measured quantitatively (for example, “improve evaluation average from 3.7 to 4.3 on Evaluation Item #1, ‘Covers Material Thoroughly’”). The following year, there will be no question as to whether you met your goal.
  • Get your peers to talk you up. In Kerfeld’s opinion, the best way to get a feel for a person’s performance is by talking to his or her peers. Ask the people you work with to provide your boss with input about your job performance. Get peer evaluations from anyone you work closely with—outside and inside your department.
  • Keep track of kudos. Yes, this is a touchy-feely kind of thing, but it doesn’t hurt to be able to forward your boss a thick stack of letters lavishing praise on your training skills.
  • Get your department to establish across-the-board goals. Not everyone is a fan of department-wide performance goals, but they have their uses. Shannon Lear, president of Web-based training company ITrain , is creating predefined “levels” for her instructors, based on experience, number of classes taught, and quality of student evaluations. “Based on predefined criteria, instructors know what they need to accomplish to attain the next level, which will also include a bonus and/or a raise,” Lear said. If you think this approach would work well in your company, start campaigning.

Think dollar signs
Is there any way to link your performance to company profitability? You might find that if you look beyond the obvious—and are willing to chase down information over time—you could show just how you’ve contributed to the bottom line.
  • Think revenue generation. If clients pay your company for training services, you should be able to easily show how much revenue your training sessions brought in. Make sure your company tracks revenue per session, and make sure you have access to those numbers. If you don’t, lobby hard for it. You deserve to know how much you’re making for the company.
  • Think enrollment rates. At 3M, where Lear once worked as a trainer, the enrollment rates for training classes steadily increased. That measurement meant a great deal, she said, because it “proved to upper management that we were a vital and appreciated part of IT and were worth rewarding.” And, yes, those increased enrollment rates probably translated directly into increased revenue.
  • Think sales opportunities. You may not work in the sales department, but if you train outside clients, you’ve got a golden opportunity to increase sales. If you do, make sure you get credit for it at review time. Customers don’t view trainers as salespeople and may place more faith in what you tell them about your company’s product. As a trainer, you’re also in a prime position to keep your ears open and learn what’s really going on at customers’ companies. “Whenever I hear of a potential sales opportunity, I pass it along to the appropriate sales rep for their follow-up,” Kerfeld said. “I attempt to track the results as best as possible. One way to easily track the results is when I see the customer coming back for training on the product we initially discussed.”

Ready for your next review?
If you’re up for a performance review in the near future and haven’t taken any of the steps described above, you’ve probably already blown your best chance to come prepared. To make an effective case for yourself, you have to keep accurate records of your performance for the entire year. As Kerfeld put it, “Without the documented numbers, you don’t have a leg to stand on.”

Sound like more work for you? Maybe. But for the most part, we’re talking about a modest amount of effort. And if you don’t think it’s worth it, just remember, it’s your raise that’s on the line.

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