For many of us it is easier to let sleeping dogs lie and continue to work for less than we believe we are worth, than prepare a suitable action plan to get what we want.
Although both men and women can be affected by this tendency, female socialisation tends to make women especially reluctant to rock the boat. Improving our negotiation skills is a life long practice as each set of circumstances is different. It isn’t possible cover all eventualities in one blog but I can lay out a few key pointers on how to go about conducting an effective pay negotiation.
Knowledge is power. Thoroughly understanding of your value in the market place, and the factors that may influence your employer's point of view are critical to how and when you open negotiations and the arguments you use to support your request. The more research you on put in, the more confident you will feel and the easier you will find it to make your point.
Gradually pay levels are becoming more transparent. Knowing your market value is much easier now with the existence of websites like Glass door, allowing you to compare you salary with peers of similar experience and training. You can also ask others in your networks or check job ads.
Thinking strategically about company challenges and how your contribution can make a difference in line with these, also helps with your negotiation strategy
At a microlevel, understanding what your boss needs to make him shine, will make you someone he wants to keep onboard. Knowing whether your department has done well and understanding it's strategy for doing better, can also play a part. Finding out how the bonus system works, if there is one, and establishing clearly with your boss what outcome warrants a bonus and if there are other perks you may not be aware of, like membership of a golf club or free professional development opportunities. There are often misunderstandings about this with unpleasant surprises at the year end. The information gathering can be ongoing, clarifying at appraisals the difference you are making and checking out what it would take for the company to pay you more.
The ideal scenario is beingable to refer to another job offer, which hugely helps your boss focus on your value. Ultimately if you think you are worth more, there are likely to be other employers who think so too. Quite apart from the value you are providing currently, finding someone to replace you is also costly. So put yourself out there and consider alternatives, you don't have to take them up, it is enough to know they are realistic.
All this work beforehand, helps you to gain a more balanced view so you can take things less personally. When you understand that your boss has a limited budget and will be struggling with his/her own pressures and you see see the need for your input to help him make the right decisions, you will feel more empowered.
Building your negotaition strategy
With thoughtful consideration of the information, you can now formulate your negotiation moves. As you consider the information you've gathered, you will begin to see more clearly, what is the highest figure you are willing to ask for and what is the minimum you will accept. Again if you have already done the thinking you will feel more confident as your requests are considered ones. That in turn will allow you to work within these parameters and pick and mix what you request and what you might give in return. Perhaps they are being generally negative and you realise this is because they are trying to complete a PhD. You might offer to take on some of their duties until they have finished. Equally it may be that in this context there is something they could give you instead of money that will help you now or in your future career, international experience, taking a sabbatical or being seconded. Think widely about what would make you happy!
As you consider the information you've gathered, you will begin to see more clearly, what is the highest figure you are willing to ask for and what is the minimum you will accept. Again if you have already done the thinking you will feel more confident as your requests are considered ones. That in turn will allow you to work within these parameters and pick and mix what you request and what you might give in return. Holding on to the bigger picture in a negotiation can be quite daunting, so it helps to have some sort of visual representation for yourselfshowing what value is being offered by whom in exchange for what. The key thing here is always to keep the bigger picture in mind, not making any final decisions until all the angles have been considered.
Asking for what you really want
This is where the real challenge comes. If you are going to ask successfully you have to work on your belief that you are justified. It is far more powerful to be proactive than reactive in a negotiation and if you are uncertain it will help if you rehearse your requests, especially stating you opening salary number! This will help you face your demons down so you can calmly use all the information you have pulled together to best effect. For many women this can trigger culturally reinforced, deep-seated fears
Sealing the deal
The negotiation itself can be so all consuming it is easy to come out of it exhausted and not immediately document and share what you think has been settled on. Many an agreement has unravelled because confirmation with actions and dates, didn't happen.soon enough. An obvious point but often forgotten. In support of this, it is also wise to build in regular reviews with your boss, making what has been agreed more concrete and difficult to ignore.
Taking care of yourself
Taking care of yourself in the negotiation process, is vital and can be done by slowing things down, having enough support and keeping the door open to different possibilities for as long as possible. A negotiation can be emotionally draining, especially if it doesn’t come naturally, so its advisable not have a pay rise discussion all I one sitting. Give yourself at least a day, preferably longer, to look at all the angles. What initially, appears to be a good deal, may not be on consideration or could be made even better with a bit more tweeking. For those of us who are uncomfortable with negotiating, the pressure to avoid feeling exposed, causes us to leave far more on the table than is necessary.
It's much harder to negotiate in a vacuum so don’t try and do this on your own. A buddy or a group or a coach can help you build a negotiation strategy and identify appropriate milestones to make it happen. If you want to be taken seriously, asking for appropriate reward and recognition is up there with the biggies!
There is an ideal solution
If you take the view that there is a mutually acceptable solution and it's just a question of taking the time to find it, your chances of success will be far greater. Having a clear, considered strategy, you stick will get you through. And if you are blown off course, take time out to rethink your position. But hey, you won't get everything right first time so think of it as part of your continuous professional development.
Stuart DiamondGetting Started
Natalie ReynoldsWe have a deal
Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever Women don’t ask: Negotiation and the gender divide