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10 Things You Should and Shouldn’t Say in a Salary Negotiation

10 Things You Should and Shouldn’t Say in a Salary Negotiation

Getting a raise is hard. That’s why a lot of people choose to move companies to get a better job or to make more money instead. But if you are rated as an above average performer and your company is doing well, getting a raise should not be too hard.

If you find yourself in this situation, however, you will still have to make a case for it and convince your boss you really are worth the extra money. On the other hand, if you are struggling on the job, or making mistakes, then think about what you need to do to improve so a raise will be possible in the future. Whatever you do, don’t make the silly mistakes below, which will make you look and sound childish and won’t help you achieve your goal of a raise. Here’s how to get it right in a salary negotiation.

Do Say:

1. “I’ve earned it.” Say this with confidence if it’s true, and then back it up with data. If your company has a good performance management process, you should have all the documentation you need to support your claim for more money. But typically those systems are poorly used or relied upon, even if an annual or semi-annual review has been done. Your job is to keep track of your agreed objectives, and what you have achieved.

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To do this, keep a log. Each week, ideally on Friday, write down all that you accomplished that week, in short, point form notes. At the end of the quarter, go back to see what you were supposed to do, and what you still need to do before your next review. Prioritize and get anything you agreed to do done before the next review. If you weren’t awarded a four or five on your last review on a five-point scale, which mean Performing Above Expectations or Exceeding Expectations, a raise is not likely in the cards for you right now. If your last review was a three or less, which is Performing, Somewhat Performing or Needs Improvement, a raise is not going to make sense to your boss, because you clearly have improvements to make.

2. “I am ready for more challenging work.” Only say this if it’s true, of course! And only after you’ve proved you’re doing a great job in your current role. By saying you are ready to take on higher level work, or different work that will stretch you by learning new things, you show renewed commitment to the company and to your boss. That will show you are planning to stay and that a raise will keep you motivated to keep working hard, which is what your boss really wants to know. You might not get a raise right now, but it could lead to a promotion, which typically means more money.

3. “What do I need to do?” If you can’t get a raise right now and it’s not clear why, make sure you ask your boss what they need to see from you so that you will get one next time. Ask them to be very specific. Write down what they say and email it to them. Thank them for reviewing your request for a raise, and outline what they said you must do to be given a raise. Ask them to confirm it and let you know if you missed anything. If they don’t respond, keep asking until they do. That way you”ll know you have their commitment and can get on with the job.

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Don’t Say:

1. “I deserve it.” This may be true, but even if it is, you have to prove it. If it isn’t, and you know it, file this one until you can rely on facts.

2. “I work hard.” Everyone works hard, but not everyone will get a raise. In fact, even if you do work really hard and you can show results, there might not be any funds in the budget for your boss to give you a raise. Typically, each manager will have a fixed amount yearly to increase wages for their whole team, and that’s it. So making a good impression all year long is critical to standing out when it’s time for salary raises.

3. “I’ve been here a long time.” This won’t show that you deserve more money, just that you’ve been around a while. In fact, most poor performers have the longest tenure, often because they don’t get fired or have their performance evaluated. While it might seem like longevity should lead to a raise, it won’t in the private sector. Demonstrating value to the company is the only way to get a raise in today’s world.

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4. “So and So earns more than me.”
Comparing yourself to others is never a good tactic. Companies frown on people discussing salaries, and showing you know what others are paid can get your manager’s back up. The process of asking for a raise is hard enough, so keeping your boss on side is a better strategy.

If you really feel that you are underpaid for your job, do some research. Show that people in your role, in your industry, on average make more than you are now. It might take some work, as those figures are not always public, but there are lots of salary surveys out there that will let you search by job title, and location. Your boss might not accept this information, but it will show that you are serious and have done your best to make a business case for a raise. Even if you aren’t granted one, your boss will know that they’ll have to contend with this data next time and that you know your worth. If you are a great employee, they might even be worried about you leaving, which could lead to a raise unexpectedly.

5. “I guess I’ll look for another job then.” Saying this will always be a mistake. If you feel you have to move on, look for a job quietly. And when you find one, make sure you explain why you are leaving in a professional letter, which you should provide to your boss and Human Resources.

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6. “It’s not fair.” You might be right to say this. You might deserve a raise and have shown it, but still not get one. Don’t debase yourself with this childish remark. You will appear unable to take bad news, which will only make your future salary negotiations with your boss even more difficult.

7. “I quit!” Not getting a raise, especially if you feel you deserve it or you need it, is hard. But quitting is not a good idea if you need your job, which most people do. If your conversation with your boss got you hot under the collar, go cool off and think for a day or two about what was said. Were you turned down due to budget? Was it because the company is in trouble? Was there a blanket freeze so no one got a raise? Not granting a raise is often due to any one of these valid reasons, or else that your boss feels some improvement is needed in your work before a raise is due. If that’s the case, read the points above and follow the tips to be the best you can be at your job.

Featured photo credit: bradleypjohnson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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