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You should come prepared for the salary discussion, as it can quickly become an important conversation.

Advice and Tips

Avoid these four mistakes in your annual salary review

Modified: Nov. 10 2023

All employees should have an annual interview about their salary. This could easily be the most important conversation of your year, so you need to be well prepared.

Tekna’s collective agreements entitle you as a member to negotiate your salary annually.

“As a general rule, you have no right to negotiate your own individual salary. Instead, once a year, the Tekna union representative in your company will negotiate salary on behalf of the group as a whole,” explains Katrine Olsson.

She heads Tekna’s employment and legal affairs section and has many years of experience of negotiating collective agreements and salaries in the government, private and municipal sectors.

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“The union representative negotiates an allocation or pot, which in turn is distributed between the Tekna members. The employer determines the final distribution of this pot and this is where the annual salary review comes into the picture.”

When your employer distributes the salary allocation, the process will be based on a range of criteria, four of the most important being: the responsibilities that go with your position, your efforts at work, your expertise, and the results you have attained.

“The salary review gives you the opportunity to tell the boss how you are delivering in these areas,” says Olsson.

She says the time at which these reviews take place will vary, but that as a member it is a good idea to ask for a review before the pot is distributed.

“What’s more, not all bosses convene reviews of this type, in which case it will be up to you to ask for a meeting,” she says.

Four pitfalls that you should avoid

Many people are uncertain about how to conduct themselves in a salary review. To help you to be slightly better prepared for the most important chat of the year, we have looked at the traps that you should avoid falling into.


1. Failing to make the necessary preparations for your salary review

Before you turn up at the boss’s office you should familiarise yourself with the criteria that you are judged by and how you are doing relative to these criteria. It is also a good idea to find out what your manager is looking for and to update yourself on the financial situation of the company.

“If you have a union representative it might be a good idea to chat with them before the meeting. The union rep will often know more about your employer’s attitude to pay increases, the financial situation of the business and what the employer is looking for,” says Olsson.

2. You go in too hard

The purpose of the interview is to update your boss on how you feel you are delivering and for you to get some feedback. Misunderstanding your role or acting dissatisfied or demanding will not count in your favour.

“Instead of saying that you want a pay rise, ask what would be required for your salary to be adjusted upwards at some time in the future. Remember that this is not a salary negotiation. It’s better to ask questions than to make demands. Use examples from your working day to explain what you have delivered. Remember too that your boss will often have a fairly good overview of the various projects that are under way. Your boss will often know more than you think,” says Olsson.

3. You think that you are there to negotiate your salary

It is not unusual for people to go into their annual salary review thinking that they will come out with higher pay. It is important to understand that a salary review is not a pay negotiation.

“The salary review is a conversation in which you outline the contribution you make to the company. You can also find out what would it would take in order for you to increase your prospects of a pay rise,” Olsson explains, adding “When managers divide up the pot of money, they will look at which people in particular need to be rewarded and who scores best on the criteria that are applied.”

With this in mind, ask yourself these questions before the interview starts:

  • Have I worked on projects that are of special importance to my employer?
  • Have my duties changed, and have I, for example, been given more responsibility?
  • Have I increased my expertise? For example, by additional education or training or done anything to develop myself in a way that benefits the business.

4. You are using Tekna’s salary statistics as a guideline

The salary statistics tell us something about how much most people are paid and provide background information but are not in themselves an argument in favour of you being paid more.

“Some people think that our collective agreement is a gold standard for salaries and use the statistics intensely in their bargaining. This is rarely a good idea,” says Olsson.

Remember that the statistics are not one of the criteria by which you are evaluated. It makes more sense to use Tekna’s salary statistics as a tool to support other arguments.

Make sure that you are remembered

Olsson advises you to use the interview as an opportunity to create a good relationship with your boss.

“This will ensure that you are remembered when the time comes to divide up the pot. It will be an extra point in your favour if your manager gained a favourable impression of you during the interview,” she says.

“And should difficulties arise or if you have not had a pay increase for a long time, Tekna will always have your back. You can turn to your union representative who is bound by a duty of confidentiality or call us for advice or legal assistance.”

Good luck with your salary review!

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