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)!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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 😉
- 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.