The end of year review is looming and so too is the one conversation you dread the most! But the need to ask for a pay rise is becoming more and more common.
A recent poll* of 2,000 workers found that more than half had never asked their boss for more money and a fifth of those surveyed by employment law specialist Slater & Gordon said they feared that they could be handed their P45 for requesting a raise.
So, what is the best way to ask for a raise?
As with all ‘difficult’ conversations, the answer is to know what you are trying to achieve and then make sure your message lands in a clear, concise way with no mixed vocal or body language messages.
Here are my top ten pay rise negotiation tips:
1.GET THEM TO SAY ‘YES’ BEFORE YOU EVEN START
A great tactic is to get your boss to say ‘Yes’ to something else twice before you even start the negotiation. It could be anything, e.g.:
‘Do you think the company is in good shape?’
‘Are you looking forward to the holidays?’
This psychological tactic puts your boss in a good frame of mind before you start. Try it. It really works!
2. KNOW YOUR BOTTOM LINE
How much are you prepared to accept? In any form of negotiation, we must always know what our final bottom line is before we start. What is acceptable and what is not. If you’ve ever been to an auction, you’ll have probably seen or felt auction fever – where adrenalin and excitement often makes people bid more than they’d intended.
Well, the same can happen with pay negotiations too – but in reverse! We must always know how far we’re prepared to push. For instance, are you prepared to resign if the offer is too small? Or, in fact, will you accept anything because you are so desperate to keep the job?
3. DOES YOUR BOSS KNOW YOUR BOTTOM LINE?
Play this one close to your chest if you can. This is like playing poker. If your boss knows that you’ll accept 5%, then there is no point asking for 25%!
4. YOUR TACTICS
What are your tactics going to be? For example, are you going to negotiate or have a stand-off? Are you going to start by asking for a 20% rise, knowing that you’ll accept 10%? Or are you going to ask for 10% and stick to it? Again, we are playing poker here.
5. CHOOSE YOUR TIMING
All your hard work will have been wasted if you choose the wrong moment to ask for a pay rise. Choose a time when your boss is not hassled or rushed, so they have time to listen to you. Or tactically choose a time when you’ve just done something brilliant!
6. YOUR CASE
Prepare some clear arguments to show why you deserve a rise. Such as, have all your colleagues, in similar roles, recently had a raise? Have you not had a pay rise for over two years? Has your output, profitability or job specification significantly increased or grown?
7. NO MIXED MESSAGES
When we speak we give out hundreds of signals via our body language, our voice and our emotions that are easily picked up by other people. What we don’t want to do, in situations like this, is to appear nervous or tentative. Your boss doesn’t need to be an expert to read your subconscious signals. It’s easy for anyone to see when we’re being defensive, angry or even when we’re bluffing. To help keep your cool and to remain convincing and confident, always try to speak slowly and maintain relaxed eye contact. Sound strong and centred, and always totally reasonable.
8. STOP TALKING!
Once you have made your case and laid your cards on the table, stop talking. When we get anxious, we often repeat our argument to make it more forceful. But in fact it has the opposite effect. We can end up sounding like we’re actually trying to convince ourselves! The Golden Rule is ‘Say it once and then stop talking’! Remember, you’re playing poker here.
9. ASK WHAT THEY WOULD DO IN YOUR SHOES
If you think they’re being unreasonable, a good tactic is to ask them whether they would accept the offer they’ve just made. Or you could ask them what might seem a more reasonable offer to them.
As with all negotiations, the outcome must be a ‘win win’. If one side feels taken advantage of it won’t work. So try to push for something that appears important to you but that you can concede in the negotiations! Or maybe say how much they are getting in return: your loyalty, commitment or agreed KPIs etc.
10. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
If your boss responds with an emphatic ‘NO’, keep calm and carry on. Letting off steam might make you feel better at the time but rarely helps in the long run of a negotiation. The person who gets angry always loses the argument. Those of us who have ever dealt with children know that once you shout or lose your temper, you’ve lost all your authority. You can respond, but try not to ‘react’ or let your ‘reaction’ show.
Finally, when we get upset or anxious we stop listening because our mind is thinking of possible counterarguments and justifications. Keep a clear head by remembering to listen. Then, always wait a couple of seconds before answering. This shows you ‘value’ the question and will make you appear more confident.
If you do all ten of these, hopefully your boss will say ‘Yes’ to your raise.
I wish you the very best of luck in your negotiations this year!