5 Steps to Getting the Raise You Deserve – A Guide for Women

Women often feel their work should stand for itself and therefore tend to wait for someone else to tell them when (and if) they deserve increased rewards or recognition, such as a raise. Rewards and recognition are a crucial part of your job and play a significant role in your confidence and sense of control over your career. Unfortunately, you relinquish a lot of control by waiting for others to bestow favorable things upon you. As with many things in life, you will not know what is possible unless you ask. Of course, asking for a raise is a very anxiety producing and scary proposition for most. However, with the proper preparation and perspective, you just may be surprised at how successful you are. Berkman Fives has developed an effective and actionable approach to this process. This approach not only takes holistic perspective on the process, but also helps prepares you for effective negotiation.

Effective negotiation requires you to persuasively merge the needs of the other party with your own. Knowing your own value and what you bring to the negotiation table gives you a psychological edge. Research will arm you with competitive information to make important decisions. Knowledge will empower you to advocate for yourself with confidence. A persuasive pitch or value proposition will enable you to deliver your request in an organized and strong manner. Taken together you will be well on your way to taking control over your career, starting with your rewards and recognition.

Taking control requires that you approach your career from a position of strength. The following 5-step process will help you to deliberately and thoughtfully structure the process of preparing for and conducting a “Raise” discussion.

1. Gather information from the environment.

What other jobs exist in the marketplace?

You must begin by determining what your options are both inside and outside the company. There are several ways to go about it. Start with the papers and the internet. Are there a lot of help wanted ads for people with your skills and experience? While these can often prove to be a difficult way to find a job, they can usually be extraordinarily helpful for research purposes. Also, you will want to use your network to gather further information. With your updated resume in hand (you should always have a resume nearly ready to go!!), begin to put the feelers out for positions in your field at the level you are currently or the level you are trying to attain. Are people with your background and experience in hot demand or is it a slow time in your industry? This knowledge will give you a better sense of what type of leverage you have at the negotiating table.

What am I worth?

Find out what you are worth in the marketplace. Do your research and due diligence. Use Internet sites (salary.com, acinet.org, jobstar.org) and your professional network. Be sure to ask men as well as women, since women typically make only 76% of what men make. Make sure to factor in your geographic location as well, as this can dramatically impact salary norms.

2. Gather information about your accomplishments, past and future.

What do I have to offer?

If you have decided to move forward, you must then document your past and current achievements. It is your job to effectively depict and demonstrate your past, present, and future value, not your boss’.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your unique accomplishments and strengths? Document your performance with products, testimonials, and client letters if necessary.
  • What impact has your accomplishments and strengths had, internally and externally?
  • How do you fit into the company and department goals? Show your future commitment and vision. What role will you play? Where do you plan to add unique value?

Numbers are your friend

Next you will want to try to translate this qualitative information into facts and data. Numbers are an effective way to tell the story and give powerful proof of your accomplishments. Plan to use data and numbers to support your request, not emotions. This will help you to not personalize the discussion. You do not want your boss thinking of your increasing your rewards as a personal favor, rather it should be viewed as what it is – performance-based compensation.

3. Anticipate and plan

Take a walk in your boss’s shoes

Identify your boss’s pressures, concerns, and future needs and plan to address them throughout the meeting. Again, this line of thought may influence the timing of the discussion. If the entire department is experiencing budget cuts right now and many people are being laid off, this may not be the time to ask for a promotion. If you do decide to move forward at this time, consider how you can set yourself up for success. What are his/her future needs? How can you align yourself with them?

Also, there are a few little things you can do to further ensure a successful outcome. Is your boss is a morning person? If so, schedule a breakfast meeting so you are catching him/her at his best. Does your boss prefer things in writing in advance? Then draft an agenda of the topics you will be covering during the meeting and send them a couple of days prior (divulge enough information to put your boss at ease but don’t give away the house).

Create options through scenario planning

Like for a job interview situation, preparation is the key to a successful raise discussion. Be clear in your own mind about what you want the outcome to be and be prepared to articulate your request and the rationale. Then think through all possible outcomes and anticipate the actions you will want to take in each case. Finally, make sure you have a plan in your back pocket for any scenario. Like an elite athlete, you want to visualize yourself fielding any ball.

Ask yourself, “What is your range of acceptable alternatives?”

Consider what you would like the outcome to be and be sure to identify alternatives to a monetary raise. What is important? What is non-negotiable? If your base salary is firm, consider other forms of reward e.g., a better title, more flexible hours, interim performance reviews or additional vacation time. What is your realistic best case scenario and what is the smallest gain that you are willing to accept?

4. Communicate with confidence and competence

Match your strengths to their needs

At this point, pull everything together and make a list of 5 good reasons why the employer needs you.

Match your previously identified strengths and projected contributions to your boss’s future needs. Make these matches the focal point of the discussion. Be sure to have specific examples to support any key point and use data and numbers to support your request, not emotions.

Prepare to take control

Approach the meeting from a position of strength. You called the meeting and therefore it is incumbent on you to effectively manage it. You will do the preparation, bring the materials, and control the conversation.

You are not asking or groveling. You are proposing and requesting. Make sure to prepare any documentation you will want to have in the meeting. Consider using client letters, testimonials, products, presentations, etc. If you are feeling very nervous and uncertain – you don’t want it to show. Act as if you are confident – fake it ‘til you make it if you have to!

Practice, practice, practice!

Role-play in advance to anticipate roadblocks. To practice, put each point of emphasis and the supporting examples on a separate index card. Say each of these points aloud – on videotape, in front of a mirror, or with someone you trust. Don’t forget about your body language. 70% of communication is non-verbal so your body language has to emanate confidence and success, too!

5. Initiate and follow up on the discussion

Ready, Set, …Go!

Once you feel prepared and ready, indicate to your boss that you would like to set up a meeting. Do not say that you want to talk about a raise. Leave the specifics for later. Do let you boss know that you are interested in discussing your performance and compensation. Using a professional tone and approach will signal that the meeting is formal and that you are the responsible party. Rely on your best judgment to select the right circumstances for both the initial conversation and the meeting. Consider timing of day (is your boss a morning person? – plan to have the conversation over coffee and bagels) and season (are you in the middle of budget season and working around the clock? Maybe this should wait until the high stress period is behind you), etc. If your boss tends to be forgetful it is ok to remind him/her about the meeting a couple of days prior. If your boss insists on reading materials before meetings, send through any information that may be relevant for review.

Follow up in writing

After the discussion, summarize all decisions in an email to be sent within 24 hours to ensure that everyone is operating from the same base of information.

Lessons Learned

Congratulate yourself on a job well done. You have put your best foot forward and demonstrated your ability to communicate your needs in a professional manner. You should feel good about your initiative and willingness to advocate for yourself. Regardless of the outcome, you do not have to plague yourself with ‘what if’ questions.

After the meeting make sure to record what went well and what did not. Which tactics were particularly useful, which arguments were particularly persuasive? Make note of these reactions so you can use them at future negotiations. Going forward, continue to document your performance and successes and nurture your professional image. A continually updated file of your accomplishments will make it easier to take charge and be in control of your career.

Not all you wanted?

If you don’t get an acceptable outcome or everything that you wanted, ask for a follow-up meeting to revisit the matter in 3 or 6 months time. Additionally, be prepared to initiate the ‘Plan B’ that you selected earlier.

If you felt as though you and your boss were on completely different pages, consider the root cause of the disconnect. Are you getting enough accurate feedback about your performance? If not, how can you adjust the frequency and quality of the feedback that you receive? Is your boss receiving enough data about your successes and accomplishments? If not, how can you keep them updated in the future? Use this interaction and data to help you better manage your career.

Article courtesy of Berkman Fives