By: Chris Westfall
Trade wars continue to impact the overall jobs picture, with a soft report in May and expectations that June’s results (out on July 7) will reflect further on this trend. But the macroeconomic picture doesn’t necessarily mean that you should back off from talking about a raise – the time might be right for you to elevate your salary. Here’s how to navigate that leadership conversation.
When it’s time to gain the respect you deserve in your career, keep these six secrets in mind:
Speak the Language of Numbers, When You Want a Promotion – discussing your salary and your job title can be a deeply personal conversation! However, making this discussion an emotional one will not serve your goals. Consider the things that you have accomplished, and that you would like to create, and put clarity into your story. Numbers are the universal language; include objective criteria for past performance with timeframes and milestones for the future.
Focus on Your Listener – When you consider why you need a raise, which one of these choices shows up first:
My baby needs new shoes!”
“I haven’t had a pay increase since 2012! You owe me!”
“I need a new _______!”
“My co-worker makes more than me!”
None of these passionate pleas is really a negotiating strategy. Consider this perspective from the one and only Zig Ziglar:
You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
When it’s time to talk about your salary, that conversation is colored by your personal financial situation, and what lifestyle you would like to create for yourself and the people that matter most to you. However, you’ve got to “turn the mirror around” when it comes time to talk compensation. Focus on your supervisor, and consider: What are her goals and objectives? What can you do to make sure that your boss gets what she needs? From that platform, you establish a clear and needed offer that’s phrased in terms of your boss.
The Company’s Needs Are the Only Ones that Matter – concentrating on your supervisor’s objectives is the first step in showing that the company’s needs are your focus. How much money you need for a vacation, or college, or even (yikes!) medical bills is not the company’s concern. The fact that you haven’t had a raise in several years is not about the company’s sins, but more likely: your ability to negotiate. Your personal financial situation is not a part of the salary conversation. If promotion is your goal, start with promoting the company and the company’s needs. Remember: you can’t fix the past. But you can always influence the future.
Context is King– Do you know if your salary is in line with what others are making? Have you done your homework to find out how you compare to others, so that you know if your paycheck matches your title? A little research goes a long way – especially if it helps you to understand the company’s financial situation. After all, even superstars don’t get promoted if the company is shrinking!
What’s the Budget for Your New Salary? – Having insight into the financial situation of your company can make a real difference, but that level of detail (especially at a privately-held company) can be difficult to access. However, you should be able to get a feel for your salary as a portion of your responsibility (in other words, if you have marketing responsibility for a $10MM advertising budget, or your quota is $15MM, consider your salary as an overall percentage of that task). Learn as much as you can about the budget within your company and your division. Because context is key to getting to yes. Without it, you might just get laughed out of your boss’s office. Is your company paying you for your time, or your impact? As a consultant, my rates aren’t based on the amount of time it takes me to create results. How I make the sausage (or how long it takes to cook it) is of little concern to my clients. Outcomes and impact are what people buy, in my business. Not saying it’s the same for your career, but could you see how paying someone for their time is the exact opposite of motivating accelerated results? Could an increase in salary increase the outcomes that your company wants? The clock is ticking on your answer…
Potential Over Past Performance – Your past performance is known, and (if you followed #1) measured and explained in numbers. The future is uncertain. So, how does your boss know what you can really do with a promotion and new salary level? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be explicit in what you believe you can create and accomplish. Show your plan, and show that you’ve thought through the implications and challenges. If your business case is solid, your request for a promotion and salary increase will have a much better chance for success.
Focusing on what matters to your boss and your company will help them to see the value you create. Your ability to convey that value – in a way that looks to new results (and a matching new salary) is the key to your success.