Testers, This Appraisal Season, Get The Hike You Desire!
The appraisal cycle is almost upon us. Unfortunately, the timing doesn’t seem right. Major layoffs and hiring freezes. have been announced by several large companies as a result of the economic downturn and over-hiring. Several companies have stopped or delayed appraisals, while others continue to conduct them.
Despite the recession, many companies are still doing well. Amidst the layoff season, startups and SMBs are still hiring and opening more jobs. A recent Inc42 survey found that 63% of Indian startup founders expect annual appraisals to be below 15%. It’s interesting to note that 31% of startup founders believe their startups could see 16% to 30% pay hikes. While 4% of the founders considered appraisals in the range of 31% to 45%.
It is challenging for most companies to manage salary hike expectations during uncertain times. Companies would be conservative during appraisals of their employees. For all their hard work, employees expect to receive a decent pay increase. Performance appraisals challenging for both employers and employees during the layoff season.
An appraisal is an assessment of an employee. An employee’s performance is evaluated at an appraisal, and salary raises are given according to the employee’s performance
The appraisal process varies from organization to organization. The purpose of this article is to provide tips based on my personal experience in preparing for appraisal meetings and how to negotiate. Whatever your company’s appraisal process is, these tips will help you greatly to stand apart from the crowd. These tips will also help you with salary negotiations when you move on to a new job, The article is geared toward testers, but many ideas discussed here are applicable to everyone who want to ace their performance reviews.
So let’s begin.
Table Of Contents
1. MAKE AN IMPACT AS A TESTER
Testers who make a significant impact in their roles receive higher appraisals. Your appraisal depends on how you impact your team or organization. As a tester, be sure that you are consistently delivering high-quality work and adding value. It is imperative that you, as a tester, understand the goals of your organization.
Identify and support the goals that are most important to your business. Below are some common factors that most businesses value:
- Customers and their satisfaction: Building a loyal customer base is crucial to any business’s success. As a tester how can you add value to ensure customer satisfaction and meet their expectations?
- Quality of software products: Customers will not tolerate unreliable or defective software from businesses. What are you doing to help your business achieve high-quality software?
- Faster time-to-market: Speed to market is a critical factor in gaining a competitive edge. What steps are you taking as a tester to ensure you deliver their products as quickly as possible without compromising on quality?
- Their Competition: Businesses strive to stay ahead of their competitors. As a tester are you aware of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses? Are you helping your organization leapfrog its competitors as a tester?
- Their Employees: Businesses must retain and motivate their employees in order to be successful. As a tester, do you contribute to creating an organizational culture that fosters collaboration, teamwork, and growth?
- Costs: Businesses aim to increase their profits while reducing costs. Are you as a tester helping your organization to reduce costs? Testing costs or development costs?
- Legal and regulatory compliance: Businesses must comply with various laws and regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA, to avoid penalties and legal issues. Do you help your businesses meet legal and regulatory requirements by testing their software for required compliance?
If you are helping your organization achieve its goals, negotiating for a raise becomes easier. Furthermore, take on additional responsibilities beyond your core testing responsibilities like mentoring junior testers, leading high-impact projects, improving processes, improving the customer experience, or collaborating with other teams, etc. Be willing to go above and beyond what’s expected of you. The key to success is completing projects ahead of schedule, exceeding expectations, and communicating effectively with the entire team.
2. PREPARE IN ADVANCE
It is a sin to go into the appraisal meeting unprepared. If you don’t prepare for an appraisal meeting, you are unlikely to have a clear picture of your achievements and areas for improvement. The difficulty ofarticulating your accomplishments may prevent you from highlighting your achievements.
Here are a few tips on how testers can prepare.
- KNOW YOUR WORTH
Research what the industry pays for your role, your role, skills, and years of experience so that you can negotiate an ideal salary. Review the salaries of your organization’s competitors. Compare the salary rate of similar jobs on popular job sites with what you are currently being paid. Leverage Payscale, Indeed, Glassdoor, reddit, etc to understand the market. You can learn more about testers salaries from surveys like the State of Testing Survey or even Reddit threads discussing tester salaries.
The data you collect will help you negotiate better during your appraisals as you have solid evidence to support your arguments.
- UNDERSTAND THE CURRENT MARKET AND ITS IMPACT ON YOUR COMPANY
Some companies will try to use the bad market conditions as an excuse not to raise salaries. Study current market conditions and how your company is doing at the moment by doing your homework. Staying informed about market conditions and trends can have a significant impact on testers’ career growth. Understanding the market can help you negotiate a better salary and benefits package, as well as identify potential career advancement opportunities.
- MAKE A LIST OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS – Make a list of everything you’ve accomplished during the past year. Be sure to focus on the accomplishments that made a significant impact. Moreover, show the progress you have made on the testing tasks/goals you were assigned at your last appraisal. When preparing for your annual review, it can be hard to remember the details of the entire year. I usually remember my accomplishments throughout the year by keeping a journal.
- BACKUP YOUR CLAIMS WITH METRICS AND EVIDENCE
Provide quantifiable data and metrics to support your claims. Show the progress of your goals/OKRs. The stronger your data, the greater possibility of earning a higher increment. List the recognitions, awards, and appreciation that you have received from clients, managers, or colleagues.
- OUTLINE HOW YOU ADDED VALUE – Highlight how you positively impacted your team, department, or organization as a whole. Be specific and give examples of your accomplishments and how they helped the organization. Outline the pain points that you identified and solve for your team/organization.
For instance, you could say –
- The new feature that I worked on has helped the company gain 2 new enterprise customers and has increased the revenue by 5%
- I worked on migration from a Proprietary tool to an Open source tool saving us 10000$ annually,
- I introduced the low code tool TestSigma the past year, I saved 10 hours/cycle by automating our sanity tests resulting in faster time to market.
- I introduced several quality engineering practices that helped reduce defect leakage by 30% last year, leading to a better customer experience.
- I have accomplished my learning goal. I have upskilled myself and have learned a new programming language. I will be able to contribute more to our new project as a result of this.
- MAKE A STUNNING PRESENTATION FOR THE APPRAISALS MEETING
Prepare a short but stunning presentation highlighting your achievements. Add supporting data and evidence. There is no doubt that this will help you to gain an edge over others. As well as this, prepare your pitch in advance to persuade your manager to give you the promotion or the raise you desire.
- CRAFT YOUR PITCH
When the time comes to negotiate a salary increase, be prepared to make a strong case for yourself. Take time to prepare an effective way to present your achievements to your manager. Know your manager’s expectations and priorities. Your pitch should be tailored accordingly. When you pitch, be confident and handle the arguments gracefully.
3. BEWARE OF BIASES DURING APPRAISAL NEGOTIATION
We tend to rely heavily on the first piece of information offered to us. Information that we receive in the first instance influences our decision-making greatly. This is called Anchoring Bias. Marketers often use this against us as a psychological tactic to influence our decision-making.
Let’s understand it with an example from Amazon.com. The first piece of information that users see is the original price(Rs 9998) which is struck off. This acts as an anchor and can affect the user’s purchase decision. Users consider the discounted price to be a good bargain and purchase the product.
Here’s another example: several SaaS products list their most expensive plan first in order to generate more revenue. The most expensive pricing($19) acts as an anchor and makes other options seem more attractive. The goal of marketers is to convince users to purchase mid-priced products. As a matter of fact, they call mid-price the “best value”.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ANCHORING – MAKE THE FIRST MOVE
During appraisals and salary discussions, anchoring bias can prove costly without your knowledge. Suppose your QA manager or CTO offers you a 5% raise first. Even though you have a 15% percentage in mind. Anchoring bias comes to play and the first number offered influences you. You may try to convince your boss to at least 10% thinking you’re aiming too high. Finally, settling for let’s say 8%. Be cautious of anchoring bias, being conscious of it helps you to mitigate it. Ignore the anchor in such cases and apply your own anchor to pull the conversation back onto your side.
From my personal experience, when discussing your appraisal or salary negotiation with your boss or hiring manager, be the one to make the first move. Take the initiative, speak up, and communicate the increment you desire. My suggestion is to start by requesting a slightly high salary increment. The number you suggest will act as an anchor giving you an advantage.
The initial number you bring to the table will be the starting point of all further negotiations; it will most likely work in your favor. Even a few studies suggest that making an initial offer is the wisest approach during appraisals. Furthermore, slightly exaggerated anchors may favor you in salary and appraisal negotiations. But ensure you are realistic and don’t ask for something that won’t be possible.
For instance, suppose your QA manager/CTO has planned an 8% raise for you. When the discussion begins, you make the first move and pitch first for 18%, based on market research and your credible achievements. The appraisal manager may not agree to 18%, but he will come much closer to your target by using that high anchor. Let’s say they agree to 13%. Which is still in your favor. You can apply the same tactic during salary negotiations when you join a new company.
2. RECENCY BIAS
Recency bias is the tendency where we give too much importance to recent events that are fresh in one’s memory. When managers suffer from recency bias, they evaluate you based on your performance over the last few weeks or months rather than the entire evaluation period. It is common for managers to remember the most recent work an employee has completed.
For instance, Sam a tester performs well throughout the year, but some production issues pop up in his features a few weeks before the appraisal meeting. Unfortunately, this incident is fresh in Sam’s manager’s mind and he gets a bad review despite him doing well the whole year.
When it comes to performance reviews, managers need to be aware of biases and avoid them. Make sure your managers receive the necessary training to avoid biases by talking to the HR team. You should also emphasize achievements throughout the evaluation period as a means of refreshing the memory of your manager.
4. PITFALLS TO AVOID
- DON’T COMPARE YOUR SALARY WITH YOUR COWORKERS.
The salary of an individual is a private matter. Don’t bring up how much your peer testers/developer makes even if you know it. Rather focus on your achievements and contributions to the organization.
- BE CAREFUL WHEN STATING A RANGE.
It is not a good idea to state your hike expectations in a range. If you ask for a 5% to 10% hike, your manager may offer you the number on the lower end of the spectrum(i.e 5%). When quoting a range, be careful of the smallest number. Set it higher on purpose.
- NOT MANAGING YOUR EMOTIONS
Oftentimes, negotiations can be tense. Stay calm. Keep your emotions in check.
Avoid being too aggressive or too passive. Threatening the manager to leave the organization or bringing up your personal problems in an effort to gain sympathy does not work in your favor. Base your argument on your market value rather than your personal situation. Too much persuasion and pleading do not help.
5. MORE TIPS
- Be honest If you failed to meet your testing goals, be honest about it. Tell your QA manager or QA lead how you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Furthermore, what support do you need from them?
- Be specific and confident about what you want. If you feel you are ready for a promotion and have the capability to handle more responsibilities. Inform your manager that you expect a promotion and that you possess the necessary skills and credibility.
- Make notes of your appraisal meeting with your manager. Record the expectations, improvements, and goals. Ensure that you meet your goals and work on the improvements throughout the year. Regularly update your apprisal manager on the progress. Make sure you get regular feedback outside of formal appraisals.
- Getting a promotion or raise isn’t always guaranteed. It’s okay if you didn’t get a promotion or raise. Identify the reasons for rejection and what conditions must be met to be considered. Follow up on the suggestions given.
- Improve your negotiation skills – It is quite common for a better negotiator to receive a higher increment than a better performer.
Negotiating salary and raises is a skill that can be learned through experience and practice. Hikes are determined by the value you bring to the company. Testers who display a passion for their organizations are rewarded and invested. Go the extra mile, and take on more responsibilities beyond your current duties. Ensure you stay current with industry-relevant skills.
Determine the most important business objectives and make sure they are supported by the testing team. Demonstrate your ability to handle a higher role and more responsibilities, and a higher salary will follow.
Appraisal is not happening this time? Keep this page bookmarked and read it before your next appraisal.
Image Credits – ICONSCOUT