7 tips for negotiating a promotion…

No-one enters the workplace, having been taught how to manage their career and what, when and how to negotiate. It’s not something companies teach their staff either as it suits them just fine if their employees are not informed or confident in this area!

Just like networking or giving a polished confident interview, knowing what to do to give outstanding performance or gain a promotion, negotiations are part and parcel of life, especially at work. Practicing and learning more about it is something that most people could benefit from.

Too many workers, because of lack of confidence, take the easy way out and avoid the uncomfortable conversation when asking for a promotion or pay raise. Like it or not, it’s something you’ve to get comfortable at, as no one is going to voluntarily offer to match your value to the salary – except yourself.

This is one of many things you need to do in managing your career and here’s a few useful tips to help you through (it can be quite a fun process when you know what you are doing)!

  1. It’s a negotiation process, not a battle. 

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap in thinking that negotiation is a war, it’s “you vs. them”. Changing this mindset is crucial to improve your chances for a successful outcome. You need to view the negotiation as a discussion and a partnership instead. By making it less personal, you’d be in a “friendly but assertive mindset”, trying to work things out for the benefit of both parties. If there is no clear business benefit it won’t happen. It’s something you have to do for yourself in planning your financial future and career.

Remember any negotiation at work is not a personal thing so don’t let it become something personal.

  1. Always know your worth to your employer

Of course, you need to enter a salary negotiation prepared. It’s hard not to get emotional, but you need to treat it as if it’s a pitch for a project, for your services. Most importantly, you need to have a good idea of how much you’re worth to your employer, and there are many ways to do that:

  • Do a thorough search on LinkedIn Jobs for similar roles to get a benchmark salary range for your role. This is a simple gauge of your salary at minimum.
  • If you can, start interviewing externally for a job you’d like as if you’re planning to leave your current role. Although more tedious, this has various benefits of improving both your interview skills and your confidence as getting an actual job offer gives you a proper benchmark for compensation package and what you’re worth, not to mention it strengthens your bargaining position later on. This is something we personally highly recommend. Plus you appear less desperate in the negotiation which is always a good thing!
  • Find out the cost of replacing you – meaning how much it will cost the company if you leave. In particular, if you’re working on projects with tangible deliverables (such as £ X cost savings per year etc. vs. if you hire external consultants) – these are important facts to know besides the actual cost of hiring someone to replace you. There’s also recruitment costs, project delays, training cost and management time for recruitment/induction etc – build a reasonable argument around this and emphasize that you’re delivering results to your company and have examples/proof of your contributions (see next point).
  • Remember most managers have no idea the true cost of recruitment as often budgets are kept separately by HR. But working it out can be a powerful argument that also gets you noticed.
  1. Go in there to promote yourself – no time for false modesty

Time to sell/pitch about how awesome and valuable you’re to your firm. It helps to have materials that help demonstrate your value to the organisation. This can be anything from printed materials to an actual presentation. It’s especially helpful if you’re multi-skilled and contribute in various areas, because this is highly likely to mean that the company will incur more cost in replacing you with a few individuals with specific skill sets.

What you’re trying to drive across here is your contribution to your firm, and the message that “oh my God, I hope you don’t leave because it will be a nightmare”.

  1. Don’t show your hand first

One of the cardinal rules of negotiation is that you should never be the first to name a number. That question will pop up for sure and you’d be pressured to give a number. If your efforts to deflect this discussion isn’t successful, give a narrow-ish range which you’d be happy with if they offer the lowest of that range; or deflect this with any of the below phrases temporarily:

  1. Think about your total package

It’s often that politics or organisational structure that comes in the way too. It could be that your boss values your contribution, but is unable to promote you or budge on salary due to budget limits set by others, arbitrary standardisation etc. Then, the next question you’ve to ask is: “Are there any other compensation elements that we can discuss?”

By being collaborative in that way, understanding their position (they want to keep you happy too if they know your value add to the firm), they are more inclined to help you out in improving your offer by being more flexible on these aspects:

  • A pay rise (if your salary is frozen sometimes non pensionable allowances can be agreed which keep things below the radar)
  • An increased holiday entitlement
  • An increased notice period (makes you look more senior & useful if you are made redundant or want a nice stretch gardening leave before the next job)
  • Extra training/educational opportunities (go prepared with specific suggestions and costs)
  • Improvement in bonus structure (cash and/or shares)
  • Any other perks/benefits – existing or suggested by you
  • Flexible working
  • Agreement about what you need to do to get promoted

Know what you would consider aside from a promotion here. If you improve your overall package you have been successful.

  1. Silence is Golden

People are naturally conditioned to fill silences. When being made an offer, don’t feel compelled to answer right away. Remember: you’re in control of the conversation. Let any offers breathe and often times, you’ll be on the offensive without saying a word as the other party rushes to fill the awkward silence 😉

  1. Good follow up could be the deal breaker

Not many managers will be able to make a decision on the spot. Particularly if you sprung the conversation on them. Leave the meeting being clear about what happens next and who they need to speak to, to make something happen. Do a follow up in writing and keep pushing. Try and agree a date when they will get back to you with a response. If your manager can’t make the decision, go and see the person that can.  Don’t leave it too long – a few weeks at most.  Remember if you are sitting on an offer, a counter offer can take a matter of hours.

GOOD LUCK!!  Remember that companies regularly congratulate themselves on hiring and retaining good productive people on less than the external market rate. No company voluntarily pushes staff costs up (in fact many are charged with doing the opposite) so take charge of your career and make sure you are on a package that you feel happy about.

International Women’s Day – 8th March 2016

IWD landscapeYesterday to celebrate International Women’s day I was on an expert panel at an event organised by the Enterprise Network at the stunning Bowood House, Wiltshire.  One hundred and fifty, mostly female, attendees came to celebrate, share and inspire each other.

It’s an important date in our calendar for two reasons – firstly it’s our son’s birthday – he does not expect different things from himself or his younger sister. He has just got into grammar school and expects his sister to do the same. He doesn’t expect to have a better career than her. Or for her not to have one. Neither does she.

Secondly, we must never forget that women have been treated very differently by society; they didn’t have the vote, were sacked when they got married or pregnant, were suppressed, dominated and silenced. However, things are moving on…

Yesterday’s panel was made up of female business owners who were asked what issues they felt women needed to focus on in 2016.

Mine was simple. Just be in business. Stop being a woman in business. Men don’t brand themselves as men, they are just in business. Men don’t call themselves working dads. They are just parents. Let’s do the same.

I know that many women care for their children and run the home as well as running a business. Women are amazing.

I know they often work long into the night to get things done when it is quiet. Respect.

I know that they can be limited by their husband’s job and geographical constraints. But they still create wonderful businesses.

I know they beat themselves up about the fact their children don’t return home to immaculate homes or freshly baked biscuits. I certainly do!

But the thing is being in business isn’t easy whatever your other roles.  Whatever your gender!

I’m lucky in some respects and unlucky in others depending on your point of view.

I work and my husband is the primary carer getting involved with the business when he can.  This gives us flexibility to bring up our children but it doesn’t give us a second income and security to fall back on.  I had my first child at 19 so have always been a working parent. I’ve still enjoyed a great career though I had to make it happen for myself.

I’ve had many senior HR roles and often one inherits or gets asked to lead or set up a Womens focus group. Such initiatives have been around a long time and I have to say, in their current format they just don’t work.  Mainly because the people that attend already care about women in business and the ones that don’t are out there doing business.

Likewise, womens business networking groups are great if you are selling products that only women will want to buy. But less good if you want to expand your market.  Female only environments can frighten or confuse men and aren’t great for equality in the same way ‘Boys Clubs’ exclude women. Female only environments can segregate women further.

Targeted development sessions and 1-2-1 coaching is different and we know that women can still hang back in the way that men don’t.

I’m all for talking working parents, and Shared Parental Leave presents great opportunities for men and women, especially Generation Y to work in a different way. It’s all about choice.

Most of the experts that work for Amelore are working parents and our model of linking them to fast growing businesses, providing flexibility on both sides, is working well.

The key thing in the business world is to ensure we provide opportunities and ways of working that enable everyone to flourish and thrive.