‘Tis the season! If you work in a traditional office environment, the month of December offers all kinds of excitement! And, potential minefields, depending on how you handle yourself.

These generally come in the form of your annual review (aka performance evaluation), which may be combined with a bonus or merit increase, and of course the office holiday party.

The Annual Review

We are all nervous about annual reviews – I’ve been on both sides of the table and can promise you that your boss is just as eager to have the conversation go well as you are. Here are some great resources for managing your annual review like a pro – even when the feedback is less than positive:

How To Take Feedback Like a Pro

9 Things to Tell Your Boss At Your Performance Review

What to Do After A Bad Performance Review

The key is to “…Stay engaged and listen to the points that other person is making, so that you can return to your work and make any necessary changes with as much clarity and direction as possible.” ~ The Muse

Salary Increases

If you’ve done well, then a bonus or merit increase may come along with your performance review. Congratulations! The trouble with tying these two things together at a point in time is that we begin to expect it, and then when it doesn’t come, perhaps because of a bad sales year or other external factor, we can’t help but take it personally.

The best way to handle this is to ask, “What specifically are you looking for in the coming year that would merit an increase?”

Then do it. If you don’t get the increase next year, you now know it wasn’t you, and it may be time to look for a company that is in a position to pay you what you are worth.

In general though I believe the best time to ask for a raise is in August, just before budget discussions begin for the following year. Just be sure you have your case outlined in detail. Here are some good resources for that conversation:

How to Ask for a Raise

8 Managers Share the Best Way to Get a Raise

The Office Holiday Party

I’ll always remember one particular holiday party I attended that was a very sparkly affair. The food was abundant, with men in formal attire replacing the crab claws and prawns as quickly as the guests could eat them.

Adult beverages were flowing, there were games of pool, great laughs and good conversation because we were people who really, truly liked each other and felt privileged to be a part of the work we were doing together.

But then there was the newer fellow and his wife. They were young, and perhaps had never been treated too such abundance before. Whatever the reason, they didn’t know when to stop. And they got sloppy drunk. The kind of sloppy drunk that made the CEO’s wife perfectly comfortable asking the couple to leave her home and the CEO perfectly comfortable inviting the young man to part with his job the following Monday morning.

That experience was more than 20 years ago, and it was the impetus for my recommending that all of us – regardless of time of year or occasion – limit ourselves to two drinks (and one is better) at any event with folks from work. There have been a few times over the years when I’ve forgotten this good advice. I’ve always regretted it and consider myself lucky that the only consequence was feeling crappy the next day.

Cheers to your career – and a great Holiday season!


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