Employment negotiations can be tricky when you are already part of the team. You simply don’t have the same advantage you had when you were hired. Yet, there are ways to create negotiating leverage when you are already employed and seeking a salary increase. While the value you add to your organization is surely apparent, being methodical in your approach to highlight yourself can be the key to attaining that raise. The formula for getting that bump in pay is comprised of the timing of your ask relative to an accomplishment. If you ask for a raise in close proximity to achieving a major win or averting a crisis for the company, you are more likely to hear “yes.” There are several ways to create the right timing for the ask, and in the creation of that moment lies the leverage.
Link Your Performance to the Overall Health of the Organization
Building rapport with management through casual conversation is good for many reasons, including finding out key areas where the organization needs improvement or can benefit from a development that falls within your area of expertise.
You should also be entrepreneurial within the parameters of your portfolio and create a story of your success that links your performance to the organization’s overall health. This type of communication builds trust and establishes you as a team player who can be trusted to get the job done, even when not specifically tasked to do so. Managers tend to reward those who fill in the gaps and accomplish mission-centric goals, but you must ask at the right time to reap those rewards.
Keep in Mind Decision Cycles and Budget Season
Pay attention to decision cycles and learn when budget season occurs. This information is useful and will allow you to reverse engineer the right time to get on the calendar for a raise discussion. A bonus to this approach is that you can highlight your value to the company in a not-so-obvious way—through your absence.
Having visibility is a time-tested way to get promotions, but knowing when to withdraw will be appreciated. It will also demonstrate an understanding of when it is the busy season, and everyone is expected to put their nose down to grind. In appearing thoughtful and conscientious in this way, you are creating another type of leverage that you can cash in for things such as expanding your portfolio or speaking engagements on behalf of the organization.
It is time to combine the two ingredients of responsive achievement and tactful timing through the proximity of cycle asks. This is an idea that is probably obvious to you, but when truly implemented, you create a type of leverage that can propel you up the ladder of your organization, boosting both your salary and title. Cycle your asks for a pay raise, title bump, or portfolio expansion a few weeks after finishing a big task. The freshness of your success will make the tone of the conversation positive and natural. By creating a cycle where the call from your manager for production, be it direct or indirect, was met by your successful response of execution, and you, in turn, ask for a raise, the response will likely be yes, barring any budgetary constraints.
Proximity Is Key
What sometimes gets in the way of a raise is when you are asking and when your value was last apparent. You cannot assume your boss has a long memory, and if months have passed since your last major success, it is easier for your boss to say no because there is no leverage driving the discussion. Proximity is key. If you create a call-and-response environment where your action is followed by an ask, you have recreated the moment of need that is present when you are being offered a job, the boss’s desire to have great people on the team.
I would avoid always asking for a raise after a win because that can create a pattern of seeming money conscious. Still, if you diversify your ask when using this cyclical approach to other things, such as title or professional development throughout the year, it ensures that you get it when you do ask for a raise.
Advice for More Seasoned Employees
For seasoned employees with a noted track record for already being independently successful, keep track on paper of all the ways you enrich the company. You will remind yourself of all you have done and give yourself a confidence boost, making the conversation go smoothly while simultaneously reminding your supervisor of your status as a loyal employee.
For those in this category, I suggest requesting a meeting with your supervisor to review your work plan and chart your advancement. If you mention advancement as tied to your work plan, lay out what you have done so far in paper form, organized by month, to get your supervisor’s feedback. The ask for a raise can naturally come up outside yearly reviews and framed through ways you can bolster an aspect of your career. Reaping the fruits through a raise can be realized if you leverage your track record and don’t just rely on time-in arguments. Happy planning!