Salary/Performance Reviews – Knowing your worth and managing the process for your benefit
As I sit here on a (another) rainy day in Manchester in mid-August, it is sometimes tough to remember its summer time and therefore pay/performance review time for many in the legal profession!
I have advised candidates, friends and associates through these processes many times over the last 12 years and thought it might be useful to share the benefit of this experience with the wider world of linked in, twitter and avid consumers of our website content. For ease, I’ve broken down into 10 handy hints which will hopefully help you get the most out of this (likely) once yearly opportunity for you to influence your pay, career progression and working environment:
- Do your research and know your numbers. What did you bill last year? What was your utilisation rate? Where did you receive positive feedback? What went well/not so well? Pre-emptively think about areas that may be flagged for development and make sure you have thought about the positive performances that you would like to highlight.
- Context is key. Speak to experts – our privileged position as facilitators of career moves within the legal market gives us a huge breadth of knowledge of salaries, benefits and bonuses on offer. Use us, ideally before your review, to understand how remuneration works across a range of practice areas and firms. We likely have specific pay knowledge for your sector and will provide you with all you need to be fully aware of where you sit in the broader market.
- Be honest with yourself – What is most important to you? While pay is an important part of these reviews invariably it is just one of a range of factors. Are you happy with the profile of your work? Are you comfortable with direction and level of progress you are seeing in your career? Do you want to change your hours or work more flexibility? Have your personal circumstances changed the context of what is most important? Again you can talk this through with us or those close to you.
- Take time in advance to consider the performance of you have achieved in the context of your colleagues, peer group, your team as a whole and even your firm. Be honest with your self about what you have achieved against the metrics in your job description and the criteria required to secure internal career progression. Analyse how your own team/firm has performed – this will give you further information about what may or may not be achievable in any review.
- Having done the above work assess how you feel about your current role and firm and whether or not it is worth considering any external opportunities, or at least understanding what such roles might look like. We can help here with an overview of external opportunities.
- Use all of the above to have a clear plan of what you are looking to achieve in any review. Remember that even if you cannot influence or change the increase in pay you are offered (and many times you can), it is often one of your few opportunities to quiz partners and line managers on where they see your progressing within the team, changes in flexible working and culture, bonuses etc.
- Be prepared to challenge the people conducting your review but remember to do this in a measured, polite and consensual way. Use your preparation to assist you in responding as opposed to reacting to challenging questions. Remember that Partners/line managers perform plenty of these reviews each year and often have to break disappointing news to individuals. While challenging them is crucial, doing so in a way which is polite and constructive will achieve more.
- Evaluate how your review went. Perhaps speak with us again to sense check what has been offered and whether or not you have received the assurances sought.
- Do not be afraid to push back on aspects of your review after this evaluation process. You have approached the process in a consensual and thoughtful way and are more than entitled to raise objections to anything you have heard which doesn’t feel right to you.
- This is your career! Most of us love working as part of a team and want to achieve for ourselves as individuals as well as for our colleagues, teams and firms. This can make it hard to have difficult conversations like this and ultimately consider moving on. Nonetheless if this process leaves you feeling dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the direction of your career it is up to you (with support of course!) to change things. Work is a huge part of all of our lives and we owe it to ourselves to make it as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.
If you would like an informal, confidential discussion please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org