Hint: sitting at your desk and waiting for it to come to you may take a while.
Let’s just get this out of the way.
Money isn’t exactly the easiest thing to talk about. And the discomfort factor only worsens when it comes time to negotiate with your boss for more of it. Asking for a pay raise is a difficult thing – for women in particular – to do. One of the most commonly cited reasons for which, is the fact we’re way less likely to actually ask for what we deserve because we’ve been socialized to be less demanding than men.
“We like girls to be nice, pliable, pleasant, accommodating; while boys are taught to be self-promoting, to be a little tough guy. Boys are encouraged to set goals and taught how to go about reaching them; girls are taught to think about the needs of a group,” Why Women Don’t Ask co-author, Sara Laschever explained to The Guardian.
Some of us find the process scary; we wonder if we’ll be labeled “aggressive” or “bossy”, or we simply don’t even think of asking, assuming if we deserve more, our hard work will be financially recognized. But the reality is, if you’re waiting for the money to come to you, well, it could be a while.
And while there’s still a strong body of evidence to support the model of women failing to speak up for ourselves, there are just as many studies suggesting women are, in fact, asking; but not receiving.
Women Don’t Ask’s other co-author, economics professor Linda Babcock, says in recent years she’s noted a shift in awareness about this issue; but there’s still room to improve.
“I think the remaining challenge we have, is how people respond to women when we do negotiate.”
Thankfully, there are some foolproof expert hacks for ensuring your own negotiations are met with support.
Step 1: Show you’re worth it
If you’ve become a little relaxed at your job, take the next two or three months to bump up your game.
“It’s got to be performance-based, and you’ve got to prove your worth to the employer,” career trend analyst, Scott Dobroski says.
“The worst thing you can do is go in willy-nilly and say, ‘I feel like I deserve it.’”
Be the first to raise your hand to help out, take on additional responsibility, and make a clear effort to be exceptional at your job. Take note of the show it part – meaning this is no time for false humility or subtlety. It is possible to share a few successes without coming off arrogant.
The last part to remember is to keep a record of your good work.
“No one is going to hold your hand and remind you of the great things you did all year,” emphasizes career expert and coach, Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio.
Thanasoulis-Cerrachio recommends keeping track of how your actions have helped your company or your team hit particular targets, and then holding on to those notes until the appropriate time with your manager.
Step 2: Build your pitch
Start pulling together information that can help you be more persuasive and prepared for the moment you assert your financial worth.
“The best way to ask for a raise is to validate your request with support based on the market,” recommends career coach, Alexandra Dickinson.
“That means talking to people who’ve done your job at similar companies, people who hire for your role, or even colleagues who you’re close with. It’s the best way to know what the market rate is for your role and to ask for it with confidence.”
Dr Katharine Brooks from Wake Forest University agrees with this approach.
“Simply present what the field generally pays, and why you believe your performance is at the top of your field.”
Lastly, before you walk into the meeting with your boss full of confidence, you need to know two numbers. Firstly: how much do you want? And secondly; how much are you willing to accept?
Step 3: Ask for it
Once you’re armed with your research, the experts recommend you draft what you’d like to propose to your manager. It’s up to you whether physically writing down your request is helpful, or mapping it out in your mind. Either way, consider the language you use, and tailor it to the person you’re making the pitch to.
In his book, Persuasion Equation, author Mark Rodgers points out a common approach that’s often erroneously used in this circumstance; the idea of treating people how you want to be treated. While this outlook can prove beneficial in your personal relationships, in a business scenario, it’s actually much more astute to treat the people – or person – you’re negotiating with how they want to be treated.
In other words, how well do you know your boss? Observe their interactions with those they manage and see if you can pick up helpful hints on how to more effectively communicate with them.
Once you’ve determined your boss’s style, here’s a basic starting point to kick off the discussion, from Ask a Manager‘s Alison Gree.
“Tell your boss, ‘I was hoping we could talk about my salary. I’ve taken on a number of new responsibilities over the last year, such as [fill in the blank], and I’d like to discuss increasing my salary to a level that reflects that.’”
Step 4: Get ready for the resistance
If by some chance you’re the type of person who constantly wins Instagram competitions or scores free bottles of wine when you dine out, maybe you have enough good luck on your side to have your boss accept your request instantly.
For the rest of us, hang tight and don’t get too uncomfortable. It’s all too easy to take the first inevitable ‘no’ or indication of resistance as the final answer, and duck out of there. Instead, career coach Antonio Neves advises you prepare counter-responses.
“Identify every possible objection that could be raised by your manager, then devise responses that eliminate them. This means reviewing past performance evaluations and making sure any concern or issue has been fixed. This means not putting your head down and sulking if your raise is denied. It means directly asking what would need to happen in the next three to six months for you to get the raise.”
If the answer is an ambiguous ‘we’ll see’, don’t leave the room until you have an idea of when would be a good time to follow up or you’ve ascertained what’s required to get what you want (read: particular additional figures or past projects that may serve to prove your worth). It’s more prudent than pushy to ask these direct questions.
You do have a right to know the process, and shouldn’t feel guilty chasing what you want.
Images via giphy.com and shutterstock.com.
Comment: Have you ever asked for a pay rise? How did it go down?