If you’ve already cut down weekly beauty regimens and Friday nights out on the town or totally cut off the luxury of cable television and still don’t feel a little relief, then the problem may not be your “outgo,” but your income. The recipe for financial success is the highest income you can achieve coupled with the lowest expenses you can maintain for your personal standard or quality of life. For some reason, people always assume that means that they have to stretch the few hours they do have after a day job, children and church to create a side hustle. Although I love and indulge in the “hustle while you work ” mentality, that’s not always the case. Some can truly create additional income on the same job by negotiating a higher salary.
Disclaimer: If you are on your 2nd warning for coming into the office late, submitting incomplete work or anything that you know in your soul is workplace suicide and you’re still there merely by God’s grace, this information will not help you. But, if you’ve been on your game, ask yourself these questions in order to prepare for your salary negotiation . . . .
1. Why now? In order to create a good game plan, you have to understand the “why” behind what you are doing or your efforts will be scattered and emotional. Ask yourself plenty of questions to get to the root of why you want, need or deserve a raise or promotion. The fact that you’re behind on bills could be a motivation, but that won’t be enough to sway your superiors. Is there a position coming available that you truly qualify for? Are you hoping that you can have a position created around any extra duties you are already performing? As you continue, the other steps will also help generate your “why?”
2. Why are you valuable? No team wants to lose their most valuable player and similarly no company wants to lose their most talented employee. Be crystal clear about what qualities you bring to the table and learn how to articulate them efficiently. You don’t want to appear bratty or overly cocky, but you do want to make sure that you’re not ashamed to toot your own horn when and where appropriate. Always keep a running list of your professional accomplishments and remember that nothing is too small. Know current statistics on your work. Quantify your successes by cost savings, increased productivity and overall contribution to the company. Never just say you hit your annual goals back in September. Make sure everyone knows that to date, you are at 125% of your goal and still counting. Now that’s value when others are struggling to hit 70 percent! It’s also a lot more professional than, “I do more work than so and so.”
3. Where’s your research? You have to know as much as you can about the pay scale of the company, as well as of the industry. Check out sites like http://www.salary.com or http://www.payscale.com which have collected salary and career data from millions of people across thousands of industries to give you accurate salary averages narrowed down to your metropolitan area. If you are maxed out for your title, then the reality is that it may be time to go after another position. If you haven’t hit the ceiling, then you’re stockpiling serious ammunition!
4. Who should you talk to? In some workplace environments where there’s only one manager or you report directly to the owner of the business, this is pretty obvious. But, there are other companies that are layered with an overwhelming chain of command. While you might think it makes sense to go straight to your supervisor, remember that although they may adore you, they likely don’t control the budget. It could very well make sense to go and speak with your Human Resources department first to assess what your options are. They might be able to give you helpful tips on what they’ve seen take place in order for increases or promotions to occur. Now remember, this is not an opportunity to go and complain about how overworked and underpaid you are. As much as HR is supposed to be confidential, the reality is that people talk. So don’t let something negative get back to your manager before you have a chance to present your thorough and well researched case.
5. What should you offer? Oh, you thought you could ask for something without offering to give something? Not quite. Remember to give you additional income means that the bottom line for the business will receive less income. If you’ve been denied an increase in the past, maybe it’s because the numbers just didn’t make sense. But, if you go in ready to declare how to make this a win-win situation, you may actually have a shot. If you feel the need to ask for a raise, the most positive way to approach this is to ask for extra work and responsibility, so that you can link this to a pay increase, if not immediately then in the future. This is an approach that employers respond to better than simply asking for more pay for doing the same job. Additionally, you might want to ask for a performance related bonus or increase subject to achieving more based on output greater than current or expected levels.
6. How and when should you ask? Ask for a face to face meeting rather than attempting to present your case in a letter or via e-mail. Either of these is just a one-way communication and doesn’t allow you to develop a mutual understanding of the situation and what to do about it. It can also be received as a demand no matter how politely you feel you worded it. After all, written content is always left up to the perception of the reader – not necessarily the intent of the writer.
If you have a review coming up then you can wait until then, but if not, simply ask your boss for a review meeting to discuss a personal matter. Never say, “I want to talk to you about a raise.” No one will be clearing their calendar to listen to you ask for money they swear they don’t have. In the meeting ask about what opportunities for advancement may be coming up and what steps you would need to take to work towards that. Ask what flexibilities exist and what the rationale is for setting and increasing pay. Who does your boss have to make a case to? Will he/she support you? What would improve your case? What commitments would the company want from you? What exchanges can be agreed – what you can put in and what can be given in return. Approach the process positively and constructively and remember that it’s a discussion, not a demand.
If you are unhappy about your salary, and you feel underpaid or undervalued, you will do your reputation and future a lot of good by approaching the matter in a professional, well-prepared and objective way.
Follow Patrice on Twitter: @SeekWisdomPCW