Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
Many of us are brought up to hide our light under the proverbial bushel, believing (possibly unconsciously) that the meek shall inherit the earth and that speaking up for ourselves is somehow wrong. If we’re British and/or a woman, this can be even more culturally ingrained. It’s just not “the done thing” or “very feminine” to blow our own trumpet or ask for what we want. This indirect way of going about life can hinder us in many areas, one of which is the world of work.
It can be daunting enough talking ourselves up in a job interview or negotiating our starting salary, but asking for more money or a better position a few months or years down the line can make us feel particularly anxious. For a start, we’ve already developed relationships with our managers, and we may feel as though they know us too well. Read on for a less stressful way to get the recognition you are seeking.
- Do your homework. What are the existing pay scales in your company like? How long have you been there? Is there an official channel for promotion/pay rise? What is the “market rate”? Google similar companies to your own. Sign up for job alerts to see what is being advertised elsewhere. What are other people doing a similar job to you being paid? Get all your facts right before going any further.
- Practice speaking straight. Being direct can make us uncomfortable and we end up talking around a subject, which can come across as mealy mouthed and irritating. You don’t need to become abrupt to the point of rudeness, but you need to be able to make your point – and then stop. Get comfortable with silence. Practice in conversations that don’t really matter because you don’t want your first stab at directness to be in a conversation where a lot is riding on the outcome.
- List all your achievements in the job so far. What have you done that worked really well? Where have you excelled? Where did you show initiative or creativity, where did you go the extra mile? If you are asking for more money you need to show you are a worthy recipient of it. Have you exceeded targets or goals? How else can you practically demonstrate your value?
- Make your case to yourself. What exactly are you asking for? Why do you think you deserve more? You need to combine your factual research, with your achievements so far, and describe in detail how the new deal can work for all parties. Managers need to be able to justify it to their own superiors, so be very clear how you add value to the company.
- Prepare for the meeting. This will involve timing, and you feeling confident and relaxed. You may like to try a little visualisation first – sit somewhere quiet, breathe deeply and relax into your chair. Imagine yourself in the room with your boss, talking in a quiet, measured tone. Visualise your manager smiling, and responding to your request. You want to feel that you can influence the thread of the conversation without being controlling.
- When you do sit down with your manager, be very clear about what you do want, rather than what you don’t. State everything in the positive and don’t compare (don’t start by saying that Dave in policy, who does much less work than you, is earning more, etc.). Another no-no is stating why you want the promotion or pay rise in terms of money. They don’t need to know about your leaky roof or the third child on the way. Your financial needs are not their problem. You need to make it about you and what you can bring to the party.
- Indicate areas where there is room for negotiation. If you are too rigid it will put the other person on the defensive. People like options. Maybe you could suggest a gradual pay rise over the next year? Or “act up” in the role you want for a while and reassess the situation after three months, assuming you’ve proved yourself?
- Don’t get angry or threaten to leave on the spot if the conversation doesn’t go your way. Your manager will need time to think this through and may not have the authority to agree to your request straight away. If you do get an immediate “no”, ask why. And, given what you’ve told them, in what kind of time frame you can expect to get a pay rise/promotion in in the future. If they indicate this is simply a non-starter, you have the information you need – and only you know whether this means looking elsewhere. If nothing else, your research and preparation will stand you in very good stead for your next job interview!