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Navigating Your Appraisal Discussion: Tips from a CXO

 Navigating Your Appraisal Discussion: Tips from a CXO

I was CMO of a $1 billion organization by the time I was 35. Sure, I was good at what I did - still am. But as anyone who has done well and not been promoted knows, just being an expert is not sufficient to get that promotion. It takes advocacy.

In the season of appraisals let me apply the 4Ps of positioning to the critical task of positioning yourself!



You ARE the product. Yay! So define what is the value you bring to the organization. And crucially, the one, unique thing that you, and only you, can do. Your value could often be a functional competency. But your USP (unique selling proposition) can be a soft skill or adjacency - for example, you may be an excellent presenter. Or the only one the boss trusts with the numbers. Highlight both - the job that you spend 80% of your time on, and the 20% that makes you indispensable (or almost).



Why do you deserve a pay hike? Do your research - refer to glassdoor or even job posts from your own organization to benchmark your peers or what the market is willing to pay. Advocate about your salary in a non-apologetic fact-based way. Managers have some flexibility in allocating pay hikes - so engage with them to get more of the kitty if you have a valid argument. Mind you, this advocacy has to be done BEFORE you get the official intimation - very few organizations change their mind.

Remember - salary is one dimension of your career - don’t make it the only one. Nothing puts off a manager more than someone who is unidimensional about this. If you do feel you are underpaid or unfairly valued, start the conversation 6 months before the appraisal cycle.

On that note it is good to know also that salary hike is important but generally your expenses will rise to meet your new, improved income. So wealth creation for most employees is either through ESOPs or through “other income” such as real estate or the share markets.

And what if your research shows that you are paid correctly as per market value? Then don’t push it. In these analytical times managers are quite likely to have the same data as you and will not be happy of you aggressively advocate for a hike.

I wrote a piece called the “40-40” death cliff - if you’re 40 or more and your are making Rs 40L or more, organizations tend to scrutinise your contribution to the company very carefully. Should they hire someone younger? And consequently cheaper? Your approach to negotiation should be carefully nuanced in this scenario.



Growth is faster and easier in a high-growth organization. I was lucky to be a part of the IT industry growth decade - 1998 to 2008 - when companies grew at an average of 30%. Today companies involved in digital transformation (e-commerce, digital payments, analytics, RPA, mobile-first businesses) are the ‘hot’ places to be. If you want to see rapid growth either move to such a space or ensure that you are in the fastest growing segment of your own organization. To get a disproportionate boost in an organization showing stagnant or slow growth you will need to show disproportionate value - either in growing value or saving money.

(Fun Fact: I had to choose between a paging company and Infosys back in 1998 - my career would have taken a very different path if I had chosen the former!)

Geography also matters - if your organization has a high growth office or region, you should be a part of it to see enhanced growth.



Leaving aside the fancy metrics to measure success that every organisation has, most organizations informally or formally identify “People Who Get Things Done”. These are folks who can be relied upon to put up their hand for extra work when someone quits or falls sick, new projects or organizing the next office party. They first say yes, then come back for resources. Not the other way around “If I had an extra person/budget/hour I could do it”.

In addition to ‘being there” you must also present a detailed and crisp account of your achievements - real numbers tied closely to either revenue or cost-savings. Even better if you can validate your achievements with awards or testimonials. (Yes, marketing is hard work!). I’m shocked when I come across employees who say that they wrote cursory self-appraisals because “the boss will know how good I am”. Possibly they do, but your job is to make life easier for the boss (and you) by giving them as many facts as reasonable.

Even as bosses love the “Enthusiastic Employee” persona, they also value the “Expert Employee”. This is the person who has the right skillsets and clients fight to access. Or the one person who knows how to get the fancy projector working! Plot yourself in this 2x2. It is possible to be successful if you are high on enthusiasm and middling on expertise, or vice versa. But you cannot succeed with less than high expertise and low enthusiasm.



Set aside quality time to think through this year’s appraisal. And make a plan for targeting next year’s.


Author Profile:

Jessie Paul is the Founder and CEO of Paul Writer, which leads India’s first Integrated B2B network. She is an independent director of three publicly listed companies, and in demand as a speaker on branding and marketing. To connect with her for a consulting or speaking engagement please write to her at jessie@paulwriter.com