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What Topics Should We Discuss in Year-End Conversations?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Yahoo7 months ago

I know there are a lot going on approaching the end of year in the company/team for everyone, across different levels people are busy with retrospection and planning for next year. For year-end check-in with my manager, I plan to talk about performance as usual, discuss the promotion timeline/expectations, possibly ask about the bonus I should expect to receive? I am hesitating about asking questions on Bonus which should have settled based on my performance in the past year, is it meaningful to mention Bonus in our conversation, or just show your interest in how to perform better rather than how much bonus you are getting this year and how much more you expect to get.

Besides above topics, what else should we cover in Year-End Conversations? Or probably with whom should we have conversations except our managers, so that we can have better understanding on what we did really well or needs improvements on, and lay out action plans for next year? Thank you!

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(2 comments)
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    7 months ago

    I would not spend much time talking about the actual bonus amount -- there's not much depth in that conversation. Instead:

    • You can ask questions about the factors that go into the bonus calculation. This shows you care about the entire compensation process, not just the final number. e.g. how much budget is allocated per team/org, and how much manager discretion is there?
    • You can talk about your performance. Rather than framing it as "how to perform better", I like to frame it as "what should I do more of in the next year". Your manager (and peers) may be more comfortable giving you this feedback.

    I definitely recommend having these performance conversations with more people than just your manager. I'd at least include a tech lead, and perhaps a XFN partner like a PM lead. If you're shooting for a promotion, or some other milestone, you may mention that and ask their feedback on what would make you a guaranteed case in their eyes.

    See more in the masterclass about performance reviews.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    6 months ago

    Honestly, I would not ask about the bonus at all (you'll know when you get it or your manager might just bring it up organically). At this point, it's already been calculated, and at a large company like Yahoo, I'm pretty certain it's all formulaic (so you can't exert ad-hoc control on it).

    I think your priority should be able to ask your manager and other relevant people for feedback. This time of year goes hand-in-hand with personal growth (New Year's Resolutions and all that), so you can mention that and make it clear that you're focusing on being an even better version of yourself for 2024.

    Before going into these conversations though, I recommend taking some time to introspect (hopefully you followed the advice in Taro and documented your accomplishments across 2023 in great detail) so you can "seed" these feedback conversations and come in with targeted questions (as opposed to the lazy and generic "Do you have any feedback for me?"). For example, if you identified gaps in your system design ability across the year, you can tunnel in on that in these conversations.

    In terms of who else to talk to, there's a lot of "common" culprits that come to my mind:

    • Your tech lead
    • Other engineers you collaborated with (try to talk to those on other teams as XFN work is important for senior promotion)
    • Your product manager and designer (if you work on a product team/front-end)
    • Any engineers you mentored (e.g. junior engineer you helped, new engineers you onboarded)

    Honestly, anybody you worked with for >2 weeks, you can try reaching out to for a chat. December is generally a slow month work-wise due to holidays, so people are generally more free to do these more "chill" 1 on 1 chats during this time: Take advantage of that!

    Here's a great video we have on how to extract quality feedback: This Is How You Get Feedback - Making The Process Smooth

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