Negotiating a Raise

Part 2: Meeting with your Boss

Meeting with the bossLast week we started this two-part blog reviewing the steps to take before your negotiation. As we mentioned, preparing for a raise negotiation starts long before you have the talk with your boss. It starts on your first day of employment with the company. Ensure that you have a good reputation for producing results and working hard to add value to your position, department and organization. If you do not, your preparations will be in vain and you are likely to be unsatisfafied with the outcome of the negotiaiton.

We wish you the best of luck!

  1. Prepare for Your Meeting. Before you meet with your boss, you must feel confident you have earned the right to ask for a raise. It is helpful to have a prepared list that highlights certain information, such as your three most significant accomplishments in the past year, or things you will do in the next year to add significant value to the company. Don’t highlight things that are expected of you, such as showing up to work on time each day. Focus rather on significant accomplishments, such as how you have exceeded your sales quota by 50 percent or more each quarter. Knowing your boss’s needs and goals is critical, since this knowledge enables you to demonstrate how your future accomplishments will help your boss be more successful.

    Before meeting with your boss, arm yourself with options for how you will respond to different scenarios.

    • How will you respond if you immediately get the raise?
    • What will you do if you are asked to wait until your next review before getting a raise?
    • What if you are reassigned to a new position with more responsibility–and also more money?
    • If you are unhappy with the raise you get–or you get no raise–how will you respond? Will you go back to work acting like a happy camper, or will you pout or contribute less than your full potential? Will you quit on the spot? Or stay, but begin an immediate job search?
    • If a raise is denied, will you ask for something else besides money, like a bigger office, a laptop, or the ability to work from home or to work part-time instead of full-time? Will you ask what you have to do differently in order to get a raise at your next review? Or will you request that your boss commit to a future date for a raise?
  2. Set a Monetary Goal. You need to be clear on exactly how much of a raise you are asking for. Although it’s possible you will be ecstatic with a raise your boss volunteers, more often than not you will be better off using the research you have uncovered to request a specific amount. Be able to explain in detail why you think that amount is fair. Decide on the minimum amount you are willing to accept (your bottom line), and your wish (the salary that would make you scream with excitement as soon as you are out of your boss’s earshot).
  3. Role-Play Prior to Meeting With Your Boss. Role-playing will help you gain practice in stating your case. Have a partner play the role of your boss. Encourage your partner to ask the tough questions a boss would be likely to ask, and to provide objections to a raise, such as budgetary restraints that make a raise impossible at this time. Role-play two or three times and you will feel your confidence improve with each practice.
  4. Meet With Your Boss. Schedule a meeting with your boss. If the meeting is not scheduled and one afternoon your boss suddenly says to you, “I’ve got time, let’s talk now,” you may not be prepared. Be ready with an agenda that follows these basic guidelines:
    • Have a transition statement prepared to help bridge the discussion from small talk to “raise” talk. For example, you might say, “I am really grateful for the opportunity to meet with you this afternoon. I want to talk about my past accomplishments; my future contributions to the company; and, specifically, my compensation.”
    • Lead your boss through a five-minute presentation that outlines your past significant accomplishments; your proposed future contributions; and a review of your salary survey research. It’s better not to give your boss an outline of this presentation prior to the meeting. Doing so might create a wall of adversity that will not be there if you wait until you meet one-on-one.
    • Be aware of your own nonverbal communication. If possible, sit at a conference table close to your boss. (The worst scenario is your boss sitting behind a desk.) Positive nonverbal communication includes: leaning forward in your chair; making eye contact with your boss; and keeping your hands and arms open, and your legs uncrossed. To get your boss to mirror your positive nonverbal behaviors, you can ask open-ended questions to get your boss talking; or share information on paper, so your boss has to lean forward to effectively follow the points you are making. Remember, a boss who is exhibiting negative nonverbal communication is not likely to agree to a raise.
    • Confirm deal points in writing. If a raise is agreed to, confirm when the raise will go into effect and how much it will be. If a raise is not an option at this time, confirm in writing the conditions and timeframe you need to meet to be eligible for a raise.
    • Thank your boss for meeting with you and, if appropriate, for agreeing to a raise. Bosses do not get enough positive feedback. Take time to thank your boss even if the raise is not everything you had hoped for or if you get no raise at all. One of the greatest tests of an employee’s character is how he handles success–and even more telling is how he handles rejection or adversity.
  5. Stay Objective. Never resort to an emotional plea, such as not having enough money to pay your mortgage or make your car payment. Bosses are not responsible for ensuring you can live within your means. You are much better off focusing on your past achievements, future contributions, and what salary surveys reveal about your worth.
  6. Anticipate Objections. Almost every boss is going to provide some type of objection to giving a raise. Don’t make weak responses like, “Well, I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.” This is the time to stay objective and once again review your past accomplishments, the future contributions you have committed to making, and the market research about a fair salary for a person in your position.

    Here are some of the classic boss objections, along with possible counters:

    Objection: “Right now, you are the highest-paid person in your job category at our company.”

    Counter: Do not focus on what other people inside the company make. Focus on what other competitive companies are paying people in your job category.

    Objection: “I’d never be able to sell my boss on another salary increase for you.”

    Counter: Focus once again on your past accomplishments, your future significant contributions, and the research that supports a higher salary for you.

    Objection: “There is no room for a raise in our budget.”

    Counter: Focus on the future. Gain agreement with your boss about what you need to do differently, starting today, to add even more value to the organization and thereby justify increasing the budget and giving you a raise. Also, gain your boss’s commitment to determining how your future success is going to be measured and within what timeframe you will be eligible to receive a raise.

    Objection: “You are pricing yourself out of the market. This position does not warrant another salary increase.”

    This is the boss’s way of telling you that you are becoming more expensive than the value your company attributes to your position.

    Counter: First, do not take this objection personally. Focus your conversation on what you need to do differently to add more value to your position in the eyes of your boss and the organization.

    Objection: “Let’s wait until your next performance review.”

    Bosses are great at putting off your raise until some future time.

    Counter: Explain that you really need to evaluate your future with the company, and you were hoping that something could be done regarding your salary right now.

    A second counter would be to focus again on your significant accomplishments of the past and your commitment to adding future value to the organization, and then getting your boss to agree to a date when your raise would become effective.

    One of the fastest ways to get a raise is to go out and find a new job. If you have a job you like, you will not leave it unless a new employer gives you a significant raise. New employers know this and usually put together an attractive package. If a new employer asks you what you currently make, or offers you a starting salary that is not a big enough incentive to leave a job you are happy with, a great thing to tell the potential employer is, “To leave my current job, my salary requirement is $x,”–and you name the price.

  7. Celebrate Your Success. Whenever you get a raise, no matter how small, you need to celebrate. More money is more money. You can go through your whole life upset about the wage you earn, but life is way too short to be an upset participant. So with your newfound money, go out and do what makes you happy, whether that is dinner and drinks on the town, a movie or a massage. A raise is an event worth celebrating, so go for it!

Do you have any other tried and true tips for negotiating a raise? We would love to hear them in the comments section below.

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