You have been working at this job for a few years and would like to negotiate for a higher salary. Your boss tells you that you knew what you were getting into when you made the decision to work there.
Cutting back to part time while your family obligations require more of your focus makes sense to you right now. Your boss gets angry when you try to broach the subject and says that with what the company is paying you, you should do the job you were hired to do. He adds that there are head count issues and he simply needs you full time.
No matter what kind of deal you made when you were hired, times change. Making changes, however, is not always as important for your employer as it is for you. And creating change is rarely easy. Before you go to negotiate for what you want, you need to break out some Power Tools so that you are more empowered and better prepared for the discussion.
Tools to Use
Safety Goggles – Have a clear vision on the dollar value of the contributions you make in your job. Be clear about the impact you have on the organization. Focus on your proven commitment (“I’m pleased I’ve been able to accomplish –“) and the potential you have to make contributions in the future. (“I envision that my future contributions will encompass –“ )
Power Drill – Ask the questions that will provide you with valuable information so you can build a good case. Why won’t they want to do what you are asking? Are there company politics that come into play? Has this been tried before? If so, what was the outcome (and if it was an unfavorable one, what can you suggest to insure there won’t be a repeat performance?) Timing can be a critical factor; avoid bringing up an issue for negotiation after you’ve made a mistake. Mention the topic after you have completed something successfully.
Does your boss have the power to create a solution? If the boss is not the person with the actual power to make changes, you still have to enlist them so that they can support your effort, take it to their boss, champion your cause and be your advocate. Ask “What do you need from me to help make a case for this?”
Are you trying to challenge a policy or set a new precedent? If your boss thinks that if you do it then “everyone will want to do it,” prepare to point out why you are NOT like everyone else.
Electrical Sensor – Pick up the clues from your manager about his or her style. You want to approach him in a way that is advantageous to a review of your request. You want the conversation to be a calm one. If your boss likes to review written material, don’t put it in writing before your conversation; it can appear as an ultimatum. Instead offer to put in writing what has been discussed after you’ve broached the subject and talked about possible options. Listen to her concerns and make sure you are clear about what she is really troubled about. Ask her for suggestions about how to overcome obstacles so that they can be reduced or eliminated.
Tape Measure – You are entering a negotiation, albeit a personal one. Prepare for it as if it is a business issue. You do not want to sound like you are handing down an ultimatum. Try not to get carried away, and avoid phrases like “—“or else.” Don’t make your request conditional.
Anticipate objections and have your responses ready. If the organization has had a bad experience with an option that you want them to consider, point out how you are aware of the previous problems and outline your remedy.
Some times opportunities present themselves for a negotiation and the window of opportunity is only open for a finite amount of time. You need to be prepared. Think of what you would like to negotiate and keep your eyes and ears open. A new project, a sudden business downturn, or a change is someone else’s employment statues due to maternity leave or promotion can be good timing for you to start the conversation. If you aren’t ready, the opening might pass, or someone else will take advantage of the opportunity before you get your chance.
Know your limits. Measure out your bottom line and see how flexible you can be in staying above it. Phasing in an increase, a trial period with periodic reviews, or a mentor to get you through the probationary period can be creative ways to move things towards your goal. Identify the point where the outcome is unacceptable. That will be your bottom limit.
Duct Tape – Have a back up plan. Before you start this conversation, know what your Plan B (or C, or D) is so you can approach the negotiation with confidence and not back yourself into a corner. Can’t get the whole raise? Suggest phasing it in over a period of time with quantifiable milestones. Not possible to go part time right away? Perhaps you can work out an arrangement the allows for flextime a few days a week to test the waters.
Career negotiations are like any other kind of negotiation. You need to determine what all the issues are before you sit down to discuss them. For each issue, be clear about what the best case could be, as well as your bottom line. Spend time thinking about what their concerns will be and be ready to address them so that they are not obstacles to reaching an agreement. You may have to have more than one conversation in order to achieve the outcome you are seeking, so along with being persistent, be prepared to exercise some patience.
Times DO change, so once your have a strategy, plug in your power tools and engage in a little job remodeling. You can have a career of your own design.