Using Negotiation Skills For a Pay Increase

When negotiating a salary increase, it is vital to select a favourable time for the manager and for the company in general. Begin by considering the company’s economic position overall. If the country is in the middle of a recession for example, then do not make yourself seem foolish by asking for a pay rise the company cannot possibly give. Sometimes you just have to wait! It is also necessary to pick a time when your manager will be able to give you complete focus and attention without being too stressed, tired or distracted. It is true that your manager will always be busy so ask him/her for a set meeting in the morning when you are both fresh. Make sure this time is not right before a big sales meeting etc so full attention can be shared on both sides.

Begin this meeting by informing your manager of the nature of your request clearly and concisely. This will allow both parties to be unambiguous and you will seem firm and unafraid. Do not become apologetic as you have nothing to apologise for and you will appear weak. Remember that it is one of a manager’s tasks to get the best value from their employees and if they see an opportunity to talk you round then they will take full advantage of it. You will therefore need to make a clear request in a professional and confident manner.

Once you have made your request, you will need to justify it thoroughly. A manager will ask why you think you deserve a pay increase and this is your chance to tell him/her. Keep a record of everything you do at work including any extras that are not part of your job description. When considering these extras, note down exactly how you are giving additional value to the company. While it is important to ‘go the extra mile’ in order to justify a pay increase, be sure that you do not take on too much for free. After all, your request may be denied. Once you have some extra jobs, you can ask for a pay increase before you take on anything else. Some companies like to be able to measure an employee’s contribution in an almost graph like fashion before they will agree to a pay rise.

When considering the tasks that you complete, be careful when attempting to make yourself seem irreplaceable. It may be hard to replace you, but in this world nobody is irreplaceable. Calmly and firmly discuss the positive things you bring to the position and the additional tasks you have taken on, but never make this seem like a ‘you cant live without me so give me what I want’ challenge. You should be able to justify your position without seeming smug or arrogant.

Part of justifying your position is demonstrating your physical, measurable work and accomplishments. Another part of the justification should be the way you perform your tasks. These skills should be apparent on your appraisals. Are you popular with your clients and contacts? Have you cultivated a good working relationship with your colleagues? Ensure that you have a record of all your appraisals giving evidence of your high level of performance. Show that you have met all your objectives on time. On most appraisals there are some areas in which you are asked to show improvement. Explain how you have accomplished this. Bring evidence of any positive feedback from clients and colleagues etc. Do not be embarrassed about ‘blowing your own trumpet,’ but be professional in your approach. Do not bring three ring-binders of well done emails from clients. Select a number of key highlights that show you in the best possible light.

After giving the reasons for your pay increase, ensure that you justify the amount. Never phrase a request for an increase in pay in terms of what you ‘need.’ A manager does not care what you need. Instead, always ask for what you ‘want.’ If you attempt to establish your increase in terms of need, then you are weakening your position. It is not your manager’s responsibility to feel pity, sorrow or guilt regarding your personal circumstances and you will appear needy and weak. Declare what you want as one career minded business person to another. Have a clear idea of exactly what you are asking for. If you are unsure then you will not be taken seriously.

Check local similar positions on the Internet and in newspapers to see what other companies are offering. It helps justify your request if you can demonstrate that most other employers are offering more or similar amounts for someone much less experienced. How far you are prepared to go to obtain a pay rise? In several positions I have been offered a pay rise upon handing in my resignation. Companies on the whole do recognise the benefits of keeping competent employees. If you use this tactic in your negotiation, make sure that you are prepared to follow through. It may even be worth applying for some jobs as a back up. If you can go to your manager and say ‘I have been offered another position for this amount and I would like to stay if you can match it,’ then you are in a strong position.

Be aware of management styles and tactics of negotiation. I once had a manager who would sit back and remain silent. Employees would feel the need to fill that silence and were inclined to back down in the process. Say that you can see he/she is busy and will give them time to think it over. They will either call you back or will take the time to think it over. It is unlikely that you will get an instant decision, as your manager will need to consider your request fully and discuss it with other people such as HR etc. Give a reasonable amount of time, but do request a definite time frame for an answer. Suggest you book an appointment for a few days time to discuss further. This will give everyone a definite time scale to come to a decision.

While waiting for a decision, continue to work to the best of your ability. If your request is granted, calmly and graciously accept with thanks, but do not appear overwhelmed with gratitude or surprised. Bear in mind that this pay rise has been granted because you have successfully justified your position as someone who has earned the reward. If the request is partially granted, request time to consider the terms. It may be that the company will not give you a cash increase, but will give you a few days extra holiday or some other benefit. This is the time to consider what you want and how far you are prepared to go to get it. If your request is denied then you must remain calm and in control. Thank your manager for taking time to consider your request. You are now in a position either to leave for a better position or stay if you enjoy your current position.

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