The mere thought of negotiating a pay raise fills most people with anxiety. However, if you prepare well and follow some simple proven guidelines, you can reduce this feeling of anxiety and greatly improve your chance of getting the pay raise you seek. So, set up a meeting with your superior(s) and take the following advice to heart.
Avoid Being Emotionally Charged
When you approach your superior(s) about a pay raise, you want to be calm and collected. Try to eliminate emotion from the equation and retain your dignity throughout the process. This will help your superiors know they are dealing with a true professional who is reasonable in their request. Regardless of the outcome, you want to make sure you do not have a falling out with your superior(s) as this will benefit no one. Even if you decide to change jobs, it is best to stay on good terms so you get a good recommendation.
Be Confident and Humble
While you want to be confident in yourself and what you already offer and can offer to the company, it is equally important to remain humble enough to truly listen to what others are saying. Remember, negotiating a pay raise should be an interactive dialog, not just a one-way presentation on your part. Asking intelligent questions can help spur a meaningful dialog. It can also help you better understand how you can provide what the company needs. Last but not least, a dialog is less formal than a presentation and this will help everyone involved relax a bit.
Understand the Market Norms
Do some research before your meeting to make sure you understand what the average salary or pay rate is for your position and for similar positions. Try to get as detailed as possible. How does the pay rate vary by geographical location? What is the range of compensation, not just the average compensation? In other words, what is the highest you can expect? How has the pay rate been adjusted for inflation? What benefits are usually included? How does experience and performance tie in with pay rate or salary? If you are fully familiar with market norms for your position, this will help you negotiate for a higher pay rate or salary if you currently fall below the norms. It will also keep you more realistic in your expectations.
How Have You Helped the Company?
It is very important to take the time to carefully prepare for the meeting. Don’t just go in and hope for the best. Make a list of all the tangible and measurable ways you have helped the company reach its goals, especially where you have exceeded expectations and/or go beyond the call of duty. Are there examples where you have been instrumental in increasing the company’s profit? Have your actions saved the company significant money? Have you shown decisive leadership skills that have rallied your co-workers and/or subordinates and improved company morale and productivity? What have you personally done to increase customer satisfaction? Once you have your list, narrow it down to the best 5-7 examples and itemize these on a one-page handout that you can refer to during the meeting and also give to your superior(s).
Your Individual Contributions Versus the Role You Fill
This one is a bit tricky to understand. Some employees tend to think if they are in an important role, they should get more pay. However, this isn’t necessarily true. How easy would it be to replace you? What do you bring to the table that sets you apart from others the company could hire? It will probably not work to your advantage to go in with the attitude that since you fill an important role in the company, you should get paid more. To get the pay raise you want, you will most likely need to distinguish yourself from others who have filled the role in the past and could fill the same role in the future. You will need to show how you bring added value to the company.
Can You Take On More Responsibility?
One way to negotiate a pay raise is to offer to take on more responsibility. Of course, this only works if your job performance has been stellar and your superiors are confident that you can handle the extra responsibility and do it well. So, before you offer to take on more responsibility, make sure you CAN handle it. Also, what proof can you offer your superior(s) to show you can? Be prepared to answer this before you get to the meeting.
If you want to vary significantly improve your chances of getting a pay raise, you may want to enlist the help of a professional who can coach you. Actually, the skills that you learn in negotiation training can also help you in many other aspects of your job and in your life.