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Use specific feedback to earn your next promotion

My semi-annual performance review was coming up. Although I didn’t have all the details, I knew that for 90 minutes we would likely discuss my achievements, where I had room for improvement, and—dun, dun, dun—salary.

Lessons learned

Feedback at my company is not an uncommon thing. Since joining Riskalyze, I’ve moved beyond learning the ropes to assuming more responsibility. This has opened the door to plenty of feedback.

  • While offering phone support to financial advisors, I need to be more confident. Customers don’t like uncertainty, especially when it’s in your voice.
  • Each time I report a bug to engineering, I must offer them a clear description of the problem, respond to their follow-up questions, and keep the customer in the loop along the way—all in timely fashion. Fixing bugs takes time and mutual understanding across teams; a support agent shouldn’t stand in the way of those things.
  • Each time I work the support queue, I learn that although I don’t always have immediate answers, I can take ownership in finding the solution. Not only does this give me the opportunity to learn something new, it helps reduce the likelihood of involving senior support the next time an advanced question comes in.
  • When a customer sends an email with the subject line, “You suck!” I must manage their emotions. Sometimes an email won’t suffice and a phone call shows that I’m listening and ready to get the customer’s problem solved.

Each piece of feedback is like a building block, strengthening the quality of support I offer to customers and my teammates.

Preparing for the pitch

As the time for my review grew near, I could hardly focus on work. I had already received an email from human resources with details about the raise I would receive. While grateful for the bump, I felt like I deserved more.

While grateful for the bump, I felt like I deserved more. I was going to make a pitch for more.

I knew that I’d been doing a rock star job thus far, but after watching a few Ramit Sethi YouTube videos about performance reviews and salary negotiations, I was worried I hadn’t prepared well enough for this intense feedback session.

Making the ask

Walking into my review, I was confident it would go well considering my results and lessons learned, but my nervousness was getting worse by the minute—not for the feedback, but for the salary discussion that was about to come.

Oh, was it a nerve-wracking experience. In retrospect, I was hardly present during the first portion of my review. In between the occasional head nods, thank-yous, and interjections to show that I was listening, all I could think about was how I was going to ask for more money. Be confident. Don’t forget that script you wrote down. Show that you’re grateful, but eager to find an adjustment that we’re both comfortable with.

The moment finally arrived when my boss slid a piece of paper across the table with my raise on it. I made the pitch for more, but it was rejected. The disappointment was all over my face and in my cracked voice. I wanted to get out of there.

Channeling the frustration

Getting feedback is a good thing, but saying that it’s essential for growth is an oversimplification. Working hard, receiving feedback, and adjusting my work accordingly is not enough to warrant more pay. And that is a frustrating realization. Yes, I’ve become a better support rep, but have I really moved the needle for growth in my career and the company I work for?

Working hard, receiving feedback, and adjusting my work accordingly is not enough to warrant more pay. And that is a frustrating realization.

In order for me to confidently answer “yes” to that question, I need to make sure that the feedback I’m receiving is tied to specific outcomes that leadership acknowledges and rewards. Without getting this specific, I’m automatically at a disadvantage

In my quest to make the feedback count, I’ve started to research resources that’ll help get me started. In this Forbes article, career coach Liz Ryan talks about understanding the financial difference you make for your company every day. I also found Sethi’s YouTube channel to include plenty of videos with tips on how to prepare for a successful salary negotiation.

Moving the needle

In support, it’s so easy to get caught up, working hard in the queue day-to-day, week-to-week. While that’s part of the job, that’s not conducive to career growth and it’s not an approach that holds the most leverage to improving the customer’s experience. To really move the needle get feedback tied to specific outcomes that resonate value for you, the company you work for, and the customer—it’s a win for everybody this way. And make sure to list the desired outcomes out—with the steps to get there—refer to them often, and have regular checkpoints with your boss, not just at a performance review.

What’s your approach to making feedback count? Comment below and share valuable tips!

Alicia Barrett is part of the customer success team at Riskalyze. Find her on Twitter: @OptimistAlicia. When she’s not mastering customer service, she enjoys her mom’s cooking—the best empanadas you'll ever taste—@gailscaribb.