The first time I negotiated my salary, I was terrified.
Do I really want to rock the boat?
Could this jeopardize my job?
Does this make me look like a trouble-maker?
After the meeting with my boss was over, I realized my fears were totally unfounded. He agreed to review my situation, and I subsequently received a large increase. Equally important, my boss and I grew closer in our mutual understanding of priorities and the keys to success for our department. We became much more of a “team”.
This wasn’t a one-time fluke. I experienced similar results with every subsequent negotiation since then, in each role and organization.
The key to a successful salary negotiation starts with these two data points:
- I knew I was being paid much less than my market value.
- I was aware of the impact that my skills and accomplishments were having on the company.
Armed with this information, salary negotiation is not only simple, but it can actually enhance the relationship between you and your manager. I know this from being on both sides of the table for hundreds of such discussions.
Previously, I wrote an article on getting started negotiating a salary increase with your boss. I gave some tips on teeing up the conversation and ended that article by challenging you to articulate the value you bring to your organization.
Now let’s hit on how to manage the communication flow once you have stated that you feel you are under-compensated, closing with, “And I’d really like your help so that we can address this.”
At this point, the manager will likely ask you for additional detail such as, “Tell me more what you are thinking.” A great way to make your request is to elaborate on the impact you are currently making, your desire to contribute even more to the department, and then your ask.
No matter what your manager responds with, say nothing.
That is both easy to do (just keep your mouth shut) and very hard to do – because the silence feels so awkward.
Actually, there’s a tiny step before the silence. Repeat back what the manager said, and then say nothing.
An amazing thing happens with silence.
The gap is begging to be filled, and it will be filled by your manager. And she will fill that gap with either some form of justification or a willingness to make a change – both of which are helpful to you.
If it’s a justification for why they can’t pay more (e.g. The salary pool for this year is fixed and there is nothing left in the budget) then that information is incredibly useful for the next step in the conversation – collaborative brainstorming.
If it’s a willingness to dig in (e.g. Let me take a look and get back to you), then you are nearly done.
But remember, you can only do this if you are certain of those two points: (1) you are being paid much less than market value, and (2) you are well aware of (and know how to articulate) the impact that your skills and accomplishments are having on the department.
Does this process – including the silence bit – actually work?
I’ve helped hundreds of people negotiate salaries (and other aspects of compensation such as additional vacation or bonuses) they never dreamed possible. This not only works, the impact is extraordinary.
In Part 3 of this series, I’ll take you through the end-to-end process of collaborative brainstorming giving you very specific questions to ask that will make the salary negotiation process a breeze and further enhance your relationship with your manager.