“I’m really nervous about this. I enjoy my job and love the company. They treat me well and provide me with the flexibility and support to personally and professionally succeed. But I feel like I’m undercompensated relative to the value I add. I don’t want to leave – but I feel I deserve more.
How should I negotiate a raise?”
This is one of the most crucial, consequential, and challenging negotiations many of us will ever face. After all, our current compensation often provides the baseline for our future compensation with our present and possibly future employers. Plus, messing this up could permanently cause major problems on many levels.
So, what are the keys to successfully getting a raise? Most importantly, develop a written strategic negotiation plan based on my Five Golden Rules of Negotiation. And pay particular attention to the following elements of each Golden Rule (GR).
Here in Part One, we will focus on Golden Rules 1 and 2 and in Part Two next month, Golden Rules 3 – 5.
1. Emphasize your relationship as a goal (GR 1: Information is Power-So Get It!)
Keep the nature of your relationships front-and-center during this entire negotiation – and be explicit about it in your raise-oriented interactions. This assumes, of course, you have good work relationships, value them highly, and want to maintain and strengthen them.
If not, this is a very different negotiation as it would likely involve exploring employment alternatives elsewhere (that’s a separate column).
Also reach out to others who have previously dealt with your boss and/or the decision-maker and find out how they have engaged in this environment in the past. Get this “strategic intelligence” – their previous strategies and tactics – as it will give you a heads-up as you plan.
Finally, explore non-financial options that may satisfy your fundamental needs and interests. These might include: a better title, more flexible work-from-home arrangements, additional support, closer parking (especially if you live in a place with extreme weather), quicker promotion opportunities, extra vacation days, promises for future raises or bonuses, better benefits, etc.).
2. Rarely focus on leverage (GR2: Maximize Your Leverage)
Employment leverage usually revolves around your and your employer’s Plan Bs (what will you both do if you don’t reach agreement on a raise, as any agreement would be your Plan A).
If you want a raise and don’t want a different job (your Plan B), it’s extremely risky to even broach this subject. After all, even hinting at it signals you may not want to stay. This can have long-term ramifications, even if you end up in the short-term getting the raise you want.
On the other hand, leverage is almost always extremely powerful. And having another job offer for better compensation will often lead your employer to at least match it (assuming they really want and need you and don’t have others lined up to replace you – their Plan Bs).
But here are the challenges. One, you have to be pretty willing to accept the other offer if your employer rejects your request. You could lose credibility and possibly poison your current environment by bringing it up and then staying without the raise.
And two, you can’t really do this more than once per employer if you want to stay (you’re sending a clear signal you don’t care to stick around if you use it twice).
What should you do?
Don’t solicit another job offer unless you’re willing to take it. And if you get an unsolicited offer from another employer, make sure it’s worthwhile to use it.
And be careful how you use this leverage – it could lead to you looking for a new job instead of a raise!
SPECIAL NOTE: Due to the overwhelming demand for our free one-hour salary negotiation webinar (we had a 100 attendee limit and 140 wanted to attend), we are scheduling another one for August 11. Sign up HERE.
Latz’s Lesson: Asking for a raise requires special strategies, so focus on your relationships, gather strategic intelligence, and evaluate your non-financial needs and interests and even sometimes leverage when you engage.