Do you want to move up within your company or organization? Do you fear your career development is stagnant? Are your goals aligned with your boss’ goals, or do they differ? These are common midcareer concerns.
If you have big growth goals but zero explicit plans to make them happen, today’s your day to turn it around. Most people dread their annual reviews because they don’t know what to discuss – or how to discuss – what they really should be addressing with their boss. In fact, many people don’t even realize that they can use the opportunity to take some control. Sounds appealing? This episode is for you.
In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:
- Four things you should discuss with your boss to help you advance thoughtfully
- Where to find additional (and deliberate!) growth opportunities
- How to approach “succession planning” – not just for royalty!
Today we’re going to be talking about your annual review and how to actually leverage this time for your own benefit (instead of sweating the evaluation and feedback that makes so many people really nervous). This topic came directly from the listener question, as usual. Mitch writes, “Thank you so much for Episode 29 about how to get the best results using recruiters [we were talking about nonclinical career transitions, among other things]. But what about if you want to move up within your (current) company or organization?” So, in this episode we’re going to cover some strategies to plot your career growth in a deliberate way that accelerates your advancement, whether that’s within your own organization or a new one.
Listen in to hear four topics you should discuss with your boss during your annual (quarterly, or monthly) review. I’m sharing how to navigate having a transparent discussion about compensation, long-term goals, and gaining a deeper understanding of your company’s succession plans (or lack thereof).
“You should never have your career development on hold.” – Marjorie Stiegler
In this Episode:
[01:16] Why you should never put your career development on ‘pause’ for the sake of getting the current work done
[02:45] An easy way to set up potentially difficult conversations with your boss
[3:30] What most people get wrong when writing goals and objectives (hint: it’s not about the SMART framework)
[5:52] What work will actually get you promoted, and what simply isn’t going to get you there. (Note – it matters how you frame and brand your work.)
[6:42] How does your salary compare to what you’re really worth? Find out…
[8:48] What will get you to the next level? You may have some skill or experience gaps – here’s how to fill them.
[10:42] Succession planning, and why your boss/organization should absolutely be on board with it
[13:36] Documentation and timeline for your intended next move – it matters more than you may realize
[15:44] Evaluating your promotion plan and next steps
Links and Resources:
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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 42 – Annual Review That Actually Advances Your Career
Hey there, welcome to the Career Prescription. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff. They don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe. And of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode. so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to always check the show notes on my website. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.
Hey, there, welcome back.
Today we’re going to be talking about your annual review, and how to make your annual review actually matter. Now that might seem like a boring topic. But this is, as always, in response to a listener question. And this listener question comes from Mitch, who writes, thank you so much for Episode 29, about how to get the best results using recruiters. But what about if you want to move up within your own company or organization? Do you have any advice for that? This is a great question.
And this is indeed what this episode will be all about some advice for making sure that you’re plotting your path. And accelerating and advancing along in a really thoughtful, choiceful, deliberate way within your own organization. And of course, doing this does not prevent you from being recruited elsewhere, or from taking some kind of a pivot doing something totally different, professionally. But you know, really, you should never have your career development on hold, you should never just be thinking about what you’re going to do today, tomorrow, next month, you should always be thinking in the long term. And so while you can always be thinking about ways that external opportunities might be right for you, at some certain time, whether you you intend to move, or you want to kind of pivot to a different type of role, or even just across the industry in general, it’s still always worthwhile to be thinking about your career within your organization in a deliberate way.
So today, we’re going to get into that, I guess I’m framing it around an annual review conversation, because that’s what most people seem to get. If you have more time with your boss, more time to really spend on your plans, then maybe you want to make this a quarterly conversation, monthly conversation, it can be at whatever frequency that makes sense for you. But most people at least get an annual conversation. And if you don’t, I very strongly encourage you to find a way to get one on the books with your boss, so that you can really make some of this activity matter. So here are four things that I recommend that you do, get on the calendar with your boss, and do these four things.
Number one, have a discussion about goals and objectives. This is not rocket science. Of course, I’m sure you’ve heard it, probably you’re already even doing it. But not everybody is. So I do bring it up as sort of a foundational step, make sure that you’re having conversations about goals, about objectives, make sure that you progress them from year to year or quarter to quarter, whatever makes sense. Make sure that they’re measurable and all that some a lot of people recommend the smart framework, right? Make sure that they are concrete, specific, measurable, so that you can indeed say you achieve them or you didn’t achieve them. you achieve them early, you achieve them late, whatever it is so that they can be measured.
And make sure that you have agreed with your boss, this is really important. This is probably the part that not everybody does. That you’ve agreed with your boss on what’s valuable to your organization, what is valuable to your boss. So there’s a lot of things that you may want to do. But if your boss does not find that to be of value, you’re unlikely to get promoted on it.
Unless there’s sort of a lateral path, right? So maybe if what you’re wanting to do is not valued by your department, but it is by some broader part of the organization, then yes, there’s that but in which case, you should be having conversations, though, with those folks as well. And you should be letting your boss know that that is in line with your eventual goals. But I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself here. But if you want to be recognized and promoted in your current organization, then you’ve got to be sure that what you are delivering upon does matter to your boss and that they perceive that it adds value. If there are a lot of activities that you want to do that are perhaps do not have a lot of organizational value, but you want to do them you’ve got a lot of energy and passion for them. Then knock yourself out and do them but don’t expect that to move you ahead in your career, at least not in the specific organization or role that you are in today,
I’m not suggesting that those breadth of skills aren’t valued elsewhere. In fact, I know they are. We talked about that like all day and all night and the branding prescription, finding that right match for your aptitudes and interests. But that’s a little bit of a diversion right now. So come on back, agreeing upon what is most valuable to your current most important stakeholder, your most important sort of customer in that business-of-one, your own business, and that is your boss. So make sure that you have agreed upon what is very high value, and what you’re going to deliver. And in a way that can be measured and discussed from year on year, so that you can really demonstrate that you have added specific value that you know, your boss cares about. That’s number one, get really specific there.
Okay, number two, how to transparent salary discussion, this one feels very, very tricky to a lot of people. And I admit nobody, nobody really likes talking about money. No one likes talking about compensation. But it is very important. A lot of people also think that compensation is something that is not negotiable in certain types of organizations or institutions. I’m not so sure that that’s true. But most important, I mean, make sure that there is transparency in your organization. And I’m very fortunate that in my organization, my current employer has a very interesting sort of internal benchmarking where you can see and your manager can show you and everyone knows that they have this data. So it’s not a secret, right? That there is a benchmark with, you know, median, and a range based on the kind of role that you have and your seniority grade.
And it’s not just within that organization, it’s industry wide. So they can tell you, okay, here is your salary. And here is the range within sort of your role and grade of seniority not only within this company, but other companies like ours of our size and our same industry. And here is where you fall. And you can you know, divide it up mathematically, right? Is it the lower third, middle, third, upper third, this helps you to know, when it’s time for an annual review, a, a, an annual, perhaps increase in your compensation, or a performance based increase in compensation conversation, so you can really know where you stand. That kind of data is so important, because you can match it up with, again, your deliverables and how your deliverables and your value add to your most important stakeholder, your boss and your organization.
And of course, money isn’t everything, and and salary isn’t everything I should be sure to mention, you know, especially in industry roles very often, salary is a is not the majority, maybe even, you know, yeah, not not the biggest part of compensation, when you think about shares, other long term incentives, bonuses and structures like that. And of course, benefits, right, you’ve got your retirement benefits, health benefits, matching, and your retirement contributions and all that. So total package, very, very important. But understanding where you fit, and what the benchmarks are really important.
And if you can’t have a transparent conversation about that, I would be a little bit skeptical about whether or not there’s really room for advancement there. I think transparency is data is very, very important to have. So I would raise that to your boss or to your HR to somebody in the organization to see if you can start to bring this into your annual conversations. All right, so now that we know how to talk about delivering value, delivering value that matters to your boss, and you know how to make sure they have a transparent discussion about compensation.
#3. It’s also really important to be very explicit about your growth goals.So,you know, bosses are famous for asking, what’s your five year plan, or what’s your three year plan, but you want to get really, really specific on what kinds of skills, what kind of growth additional opportunities you want. Sometimes it’s not just a promotion, it may be the actual acquisition of a set of skills that you don’t have right now. For some people, that means going back to school for an additional degree or certificate. For other people, it means just spending time, on committees or in other areas of their organization, so that you can sort of learn on the job and get your feet wet, by volunteering to help and to participate. But you’ve got to be responsible for driving this to a certain degree, you’ve got to know what you hope to grow, what you hope to develop, and then you got to map it out.
And in my view, part of your boss’s job is to help you get those kinds of opportunities to support you and be on your side as you go to grow and develop those kind of opportunities. So this should absolutely be part of your annual or quarterly conversation. What it is that you’re trying to develop as a professional new skill sets deeper skill sets, more breadth of understanding different levels of parties. Decision making all of those kinds of things. And if you don’t have a sufficient amount of skill to participate in some of those types of more broad ways to contribute to the organization, then you know, instead of a no, the question is, well, what will it take for me to get there? What would it take in order for me to have the right skill sets that I could bring something to the table while of course, still learning and developing in that, you know, new capacity.
Again, even if this is not your whole job, it’s just a little bit of some, you know, some type of committee or project that you’re leading that gives you broader exposure across your organization, and helps you to contribute in a different way.
And this leads me to number four, you should be having with your boss, and explicit discussion about succession planning. What does that mean? It sounds sort of like royal but succession planning, let me tell you, your boss’s biggest nightmare, in general, is that someone who’s very high talent who takes up you know, really important part of their manpower of their, of their group, just ups and leaves, right, something something either happens personally, and they’re not able to continue working, or they get lured away, they get recruited away. And so they’re no longer part of the organization, and their role is vacant. That’s a nightmare for everybody. It’s especially challenging for the manager for the boss, because you got to fill those shoes with somebody, it is a dream, it is much, much much better for your boss to already have folks in mind that not only are they aware that that person wants the opportunity when it becomes available, but also that they have in a deliberate and thoughtful way, been sort of groomed for taking those reins.
And by that I mean they have developed the skills and expertise they have received the additional training they have networked, perhaps with the right, other stakeholders across the organization, that would be important, they already have some ability to kind of seamlessly step in and do that work.
So if you have your eye on something, let’s say you want to be the residency program director, or you want to be the vice chair of either, you know, quality improvement of inclusion and diversity of promotion and tenure, or whatever the case is, again, thinking along those five and 10 year plans, it doesn’t just magically happen, you’ve got to have a plan for developing whatever it is that are the competencies, right, that would make you competitive to be that candidate. When the opportunity opens, you’ve got to have already done so the networking so that all of the people around the table who are involved in the decision of whether or not you’d be the right person for the job already know you and already think maybe you would be and they already know you want it.
You can take this even one step further and have a conversation about whether or not you could simply be appointed into the role when it becomes available. Not everything. And this will depend on your organization, your norms, it depends, I’m sure in places on various laws and policies. So this, you know, may not be possible for everybody. But it’s it’s worth considering whether or not there is a formal designation that you are sort of the intended successor that when that opportunity opens, because the person currently in it moves on or moves up, they themselves get promoted, that the intent is for you to move up. You may not even need to participate in some kind of an interview process.
If you’ve been identified in advance as the intended successor Now, that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to you, right, if you could mess up your job, and underperform and not get it. But if you’ve been very deliberate about knowing that that’s what you want to do next, and understanding what adds value to your boss, making sure that you are growing and developing the specific skills that add even more value that in your boss’s mind make you the right fit for that next job. And you’ve even broached the concept of whether or not that could be something that is just noted in your file, right that you are among, perhaps among a shortlist of intended successors in that group. And your boss may think this is wild and novel and they’ve never done it like this. Or they might think, hey, that’s a really great idea. And again, there may be laws, HR policies and other things to consider. But I know many organizations that have very specific succession plans, these are written down in their HR types of documentations that say that you know, employee X, Y or Z is already identified and aligned to succession for roles, you know, A, B, or C whatever happens to become available, and that their skills are the right skills and their experience is the right amount of experience. And their networks are the right networks, whatever is required for you to be successful candidate succession planning, it’s simple, and it really solves so many problems,
it helps you be very clear on what’s next for you, it helps you kind of benchmark on whether or not you’re getting there, right, if you know that this is what you want to do next, there ought to be some amount, some reasonable period of time that you’re waiting in the wings and growing and developing and, and then you should be in that role. If you aren’t, it might be time to look elsewhere.
But it’s also very much a win win for your organization and for your boss, because nobody likes to have an important role, suddenly vacant that they have to scramble to fill, would much rather already have people on the bench that they know can step in and do that job.
So, Mitch, I hope that’s helpful. And everyone listening, I hope that’s helpful. Make sure that you’re having at least an annual conversation, try to make it more frequent than that quarterly, make sure that it really gets very explicit on your goals and objectives. And those indeed speak to what’s most important to your boss, your organization. Make sure that you’re being compensated in a way that makes you feel really great about working where you work, and there ought to be transparency there that gets rid of so many problems related to bias and inequity. And also just helps you to know whether you have room to move in the role where you are, can you continue to advance or do you really need a promotion, it just, it just helps you to know. And make sure you’ve got those growth and development goals, which again, is different from a promotion. But they also have those promotion goals that succession planning, have it on paper written down really clear. It’s great for you. It’s great for your boss. It’s great for your organization.
So I hope that helps you think a little bit differently about how you ought to be meeting with your boss on an annual basis for more frequently, if you can. That’s it for today. Bye for now. Thanks for joining me on this episode of the career prescription. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.