Browsing Front Page News's Archives »»

2009 16 Oct

Terrific! Now you know all about how much to ask for, how to handle the meeting and how to negotiate the best possible raise But hang on, what if your boss won’t negotiate? Suppose they refuse to discuss a pay rise with you? There are objections that some unenlightened bosses raise to giving a salary increase – or to discussing one anywhere near the sort of range you’re looking for. So what do you do when your boss turns you down flat?

Generally, your boss will give you a reason. If they don’t volunteer one, ask them. You’ll find that an outright refusal tends to stem from one of only a handful of reasons. So here they are, together with the correct response on your part to keep some kind of useful discussion open. Look through this list, and learn those responses so that you are ready for whatever your boss throws at you.

‘it’s not in the budget’
This is a standard response, and one that may or may not be true. In fact, good managers budget for pay rises in line with their team members’ increasing value. But maybe your boss didn’t. Maybe the company is tightening its belt at the moment and your boss couldn’t be seen to award a substantial pay raise when profits are falling.

Since you timed this meeting to pre-empt the annual salary review, and we’ve already considered options for deferring a rise, presumably your boss is saying no for the foreseeable future. But don’t fret – you can beat them with logic.

What if the rise didn’t cost them anything? What if they even ended up making a net gain from it? They can hardly argue with that. So propose that they give you a performance-related bonus each year (or month or whatever suits you both). You get a payment equating to a percentage of the added value you bring to the job. If you don’t generate any added value, you don’t get the bonus. If you do, you get a share and they keep the rest. You’re both quids in.

Make sure you get this agreement down in writing, as always. It should represent a permanent undertaking to increase your salary year on year, no matter what the organization’s circumstances, so long as you increase your value.

What are you worth?
If you do a job where you can easily calculate how much revenue you generate, or what savings you instigate, working out a bonus is very straightforward and you and your boss need only agree what percentage you should get. But as we saw earlier, you can set targets for any job that you and your boss both agree represent added value. Maybe you will increase your throughput, take on extra responsibilities, work extra hours, generate ideas that produce cost savings elsewhere in the organization, and so on. Offer to draw up a set of measurable performance standards that enable you and your boss to agree when you have added value, and how much you’ve added. Then schedule another meeting to discuss and finalize these.

‘I can only offer you a much smaller pay rise’
Your boss may well agree to a pay raise of sorts, but one that falls well short of your bottom line. If you agree to this you have sent out a message that you are a pushover when it comes to salary negotiations. What’s more, you will have come away with less than you decided you were prepared to settle for. So find out why they can’t offer you more. If they tell you it’s not in the budget, suggest they make up the difference (making part of your salary performance-based).

If you really cannot get your boss to budge, and you don’t want to go so far as to leave the company, there’s no point turning down what little you have been offered. So accept it, but make it clear that you do not regard it as full settlement of your claim. In other words, let your boss know that you will continue to seek a full pay raise; that way, they can’t complain that you keep pestering for pay rises. You’ve only ever asked once – and you’re still waiting for a final and satisfactory answer.

There’s something else you can do, too. Ask your boss, ‘What would it take for you to award me the pay rise I’m asking for?’ They can’t very well claim that nothing you could do, however valuable, could possibly warrant a rise. So they’re going to have to commit themselves to some kind of concrete goal for you. They might say that you’d need to increase revenue by 50 per cent, or get extra qualifications, or improve your financial skills. Whatever their answer, you’ll be making sure it goes down in writing. Now you know what you have to do; do it.

‘nobody else earns that much’
This is a popular response with many bosses, and frankly an irrelevant one. You should be paid what you are worth, period. If others are paid less, then either they too are being undervalued, or they are worth less than you are. Neither of these seems like a good argument for under-rewarding you. But of course, it’s your boss who needs persuading.

What you need to do is to read between the lines. What your boss really means is, ‘But if I pay you that and the others find out, they’ll all want pay rises. And I can’t afford that.’ So what your boss really needs is an excuse for paying you more than anyone else.

Your boss probably needs an excuse to give to their own managers too, to allay precisely the same worry. So do them a favor – give them the excuse they need.

It is important to make yourself a special case, and this is why. Your mini-presentation should have included this, and all you need to do when your boss makes this objection is draw their attention to it. ‘Ah, but no one else in this department has my experience with the GZ109′, or ‘No one else carries as much responsibility as I do. When you’re away, which amounts to as much as 75 days a year, I look after the department on your behalf.’

Pick the right benchmark
If your research showed that your employer pays salaries below the industry norm, point this out to focus your boss on the wider picture instead of the narrow perspective of your immediate colleagues. Say, ‘I don’t know how much my colleagues earn, but I know what legal secretaries like myself earn in comparable organizations. And my salary is about 12 per cent below average. Is there a reason why you pay less than most companies in the industry?’ Obviously you can back up this assertion, and you’ll have shaken your boss, who doesn’t want to find they can’t compete in the job market.

‘you’re costing us too much’
There’s a very simple response to this ridiculous objection: ‘I hope you don’t view me as a cost. I feel I’m an asset to the organization. My contribution has increased since my last pay rise, for the reasons I’ve outlined, and I’d like a rise in salary to reflect that increase. I believe I will still represent value for money.’

This objection can conceal a deeper concern on the part of your boss: your proposed salary increase will bring you dangerously close to their own salary level. This threatens their status. The way to get round this is to show them that if they give you this rise, it will bolster their own claim for a pay rise. The only thing is, you can’t say this outright because they won’t thank you for suggesting that they are so status conscious. So here’s your response: ‘I don’t see that I’m that expensive.

After all, plenty of more senior managers here earn more than I do. If I can be paid £35,000′ (the figure you’re asking, not your present salary) ‘that must mean that the managers above me are on substantially more – they certainly should be.’

‘you’re already earning the maximum for your job’
Oh, dear. One of those old-fashioned organizations that hasn’t noticed the benefits of paying people what they are worth. This can be tricky, especially in a large organization which is likely to be very inflexible. But there is a simple solution.

In organizations like this, your boss may well not like the system. If you’ve presented a good case for a rise, they may genuinely want to reward you, but their hands are tied by the inflexible rope of bureaucracy. So with a little help, you may find them very responsive. And the solution is delightfully logical: if you can’t earn any more in this job (because the system says so), why not promote you? Then you can move into a fresh salary bracket.

In some organizations this can be managed by creating a new job title, if it isn’t possible to move you up to the standard next position. When a new job is created, a new salary scale will have to be set for it. You could keep much the same responsibilities but be promoted from sales representative to sales associate, or from chief packer to deputy despatch manager.

‘I can’t give you a pay rise now; wait a few months’
This may be a genuine plea that now isn’t financially feasible but your boss really will give you a raise in a few months. You can easily test whether it is genuine by asking for a firm date. If they give you one, ask to negotiate the rise now (at least in outline) and put it in writing confirming the date from which it will take effect.

If your boss isn’t willing to do this, the reason is doubtless that they are simply trying to put you off. So ask what the problem is with giving you the rise now. They will almost certainly respond with one of the objections such as ‘It’s not in the budget’, ‘Nobody else earns that much’ or ‘You’re costing us too much’.

Positive reasons for waiting
Your boss may have another genuine reason for asking you to wait a few months for your raise, so you need to find out if this is the case. Perhaps they want to wait until you’ve got the qualification you’re studying for, or maybe they are planning to promote you when Daphne retires and they intend to give you a rise then to go with the new responsibilities. So always ask why they want to wait.

‘my boss won’t agree to it’
The only reason your boss’s manager won’t agree to a pay raise is that the arguments for it aren’t convincing enough. If you’ve done your preparation well, you will have presented a case strong enough for most bosses to feel they can pass on, so this objection is unlikely to arise. But it’s another of those responses that conceals a deeper worry on your boss’s part.

Even if your boss feels their manager may say no, that isn’t in itself a reason for them not to ask for your pay raise – after all it will placate you better than refusing to ask, so what have they got to lose? The answer is that they fear their own boss will think poorly of them for coming to them with an unjus¬tified request that they should have rejected without referring it upwards. It will make them look as though they’ve all but given in to your outrageous demands.

Money RaiseThe way to appease this fear is therefore to make your case so watertight, so convincing that your boss can be certain that their boss will at least consider it reasonable. That way, they won’t look foolish for recommending the raise. So ask them why their boss won’t agree to it, and they will no doubt tell you what they think are the weak spots in your case. If you then furnish your boss with persuasive answers to these doubts, they in turn will feel confident of using these answers when their boss raises the same doubts.

‘I’ve talked to my manager and the answer’s no’
Your boss may well not have given you an on-the-spot answer to your request for a pay rise (or whatever you want), but have taken on board all your arguments and then put the matter to their manager for a decision. They will then call you in for another meeting, at which they will give you the final answer. Often the answer will he yes, or yes with one or two final conditions or alterations to agree between the two of you.

But sometimes the response will be no, or it will be an offer well below your bottom line. In this case, your first priority will be to establish the reason for the refusal. Having established this, you can then follow the guidelines we’ve just covered for whichever objection your boss’s manager has raised. Just because you are getting the response via your boss, rather than direct from the senior manager concerned, doesn’t make you any less entitled to a good, clear answer with a plan of action for working towards a future pay raise. What you want to know is:

• why you have been turned down
• what you can do to put yourself in line for a future pay raises.

If your boss is not prepared – or not able – to answer these two questions, you will need to talk to the manager concerned to find out the answers. Explain to your boss that you feel strongly that you need clear answers to these questions, and that you would appreciate a meeting between the three of you so that their manager can put you in the picture (don’t try to exclude your boss; they won’t appreciate it). It’s not an unreasonable request and they should agree to it, especially if they themselves were persuaded that a pay raise was justified.

They may decline a meeting, but agree to ask the manager on your behalf. In this case emphasize that you would like clear targets to work towards in order to earn a pay raise. You don’t want a message back that says ‘You’d need to increase your sales by quite a lot’, or ‘you’d need more qualifications’. You want to know precisely what level of sales you’d need to reach, or what qualifications you should train for.

If you are underpaid for the contribution you make, a fair request for a pay raise should get you the reward you deserve. But in the end, if you have a genuinely good claim and your employers simply refuse to consider k, you may need to decide if they are the right employer for you.

2009 13 Oct
Keep a diary

Keep a diary

So now you’re ready to sit down for 15 minutes at the beginning or end of each day. And you are going to transfer the variety of notes in your notebook across to your diary. All of them. For this, you need a decent-sized diary. Go and get one if necessary. You need one that has room for notes as well as having each day broken down by times.

The core of getting organized, working productively and looking effective is a well-planned diary. Boy, does that sound boring – the sort of thing a Monty Python-style accountant would have. But actually it’s not so bad. In fact the feeling of control it gives you is rather enjoyable. And your 10 to 20 minutes a day is there to keep your diary (or should I say your bible?) in order.

As well as your 15 minutes each day, you will also need to find a few extra minutes at the start of each month for diary planning. In fact, you need to schedule four stages of planning, all very simple:

• yearly
• monthly
• weekly
• daily.

Yearly Planning

At the start of each year, you’ll need to spend about half an hour (which you will have scheduled into your diary for the purpose) entering all the dates you already have details of for the rest of the year, such as:

• regular meetings
• special events (trade shows or product launches, for example)
• regular events (a monthly departmental lunch, or a weekly team meeting)
• holidays
• personal time (if you want to plan a day off for the kids’ birthdays or leaving early on the evening of an anniversary).

You should also schedule:
• fifteen minutes at the start of each month for a similar diary session
• at least one full day a month – more if possible – for working on major proactive tasks such as developing ideas and planning productive new projects.

Monthly Planning

Repeat this on a smaller scale at the beginning of each month. Schedule time for things you didn’t plan at the start of the year. This is especially important for managers, who need to schedule:
• selection interviews
• appraisals
• presentations (including preparation time)
• time to prepare reports and proposals
• time to delegate key tasks.

If your month is already looking overly full (and you know how many unplanned things tend to crop up so be realistic), now is the time to trim your workload if you need to. Cancel or excuse yourself from meetings you don’t really need to hold or attend, delegate anything you can, and streamline your diary. For example, if you have two trips to the north-west planned this month, move them both to the same day.

Two by Two
Always look for opportunities to do two tasks at once if you can still give each the attention it needs. For example, do your filing (which you never allow to build up, of course) while you are holding for people on the phone. Or begin entering your notes into your diary while you’re waiting for a meeting to get started, to save time later.

Weekly Planning
Once you’re into the swing, this takes only five minutes on a Monday morning (or the previous Friday evening if you prefer). Start filling in some of the blank spaces in your diary by scheduling time for:

• monitoring any staff who work for you
• catching up with phone calls
• dealing with miscellaneous tasks (these are the ones that really mess up your diary system if you haven’t scheduled them – they push in and throw everything else out; Friday afternoons are a good time to block in an hour or two for this).
• taking phone calls – then get the receptionist or an assistant to field calls saying you’ll definitely be available on Wednesday afternoon, for example, or before 10:30 on Friday.

Daily Planning

This is your 10- to 20-minute session that you are going to get into the habit of holding each day. Write down on the relevant page in your diary everything you have gleaned from your intelligence-gathering operations during the day:

• If you noted down that you would phone someone on Monday morning, enter it in the diary for Monday morning (with a brief note to remind you why you’re calling).
• If you were handed a leaflet for an event you need to attend, which you stored in your folder, transfer the date to your diary (along with any contact phone number).
• If someone promised to call you back on Tuesday, make a note for Tuesday to prompt them. If they didn’t give you a specific date by when they would contact you, write the reminder for whichever day you would expect them to have replied by.
• If you made an action point to write a letter, note it down for a time when you are scheduled to write letters, or to do miscellaneous tasks.
• Add into the diary any meetings, appointments or other dates and times you have collected during the day, and any contact names, phone numbers or directions for getting there that you might conceivably need.

By doing this, you will find that when you open your diary each morning, it will already include a list of phone calls to make and things to do, all entered over the last few days and weeks. If you find that you need time scheduled to work through these, simply make sure you give yourself a regular time. For example, you might arrive at 9:00 each morning but ensure you never make an appointment earlier than 9:30, so you have half an hour at the start of each day to keep on top of phone calls and daily action points.

Organized people have all sorts of systems and codes for prioritizing tasks. But the more organized your diary, the less you need to prioritize – it only arises when you don’t have time for everything. But it is worth having some kind of code to indicate, as you make a note in your diary, if it is urgent that you do it the day it is entered for (just in case an emergency crops up and things slip …). Pick whatever suits you – underline it, write it in red ink, run a highlighter pen over it. It’s up to you.

2009 13 Oct
Little things can go along way.

Little things can go along way.

Popular people do better at work. They are more fun to have around, generate a positive atmosphere and improve morale. And as a manager being asked for a pay rise, wouldn’t you be more sympathetic towards someone you liked? So if you’re less popular than you could be, take a look through this list of likeable characteristics and see where there’s room for improvement.

• Be a good listener.
• Show an interest in the people around you.
• Don’t be arrogant or pompous.
• Don’t gossip about people behind their backs.
• Never put people down.
• A strong sense of humor is a definite plus, but don’t use it against the people you work with.
• If you manage your own team, be fair and always make time when your team members need to talk to you.

None of this is difficult, but most of us know deep down that we don’t really listen properly, or that when we disagree with someone’s idea we sometimes put them down (‘That’s a stupid idea!’ rather than ‘I disagree’).

Trust and Reliability
You are bound to succeed better if you are regarded as being trustworthy and reliable. So make sure you never break confidences or act disloyally, for example by gossiping about colleagues to customers or suppliers. Equally, always show you can be trusted to get tasks done, especially when they are urgent or important. Show that even when delays have put you behind, you can still get the work done without mistakes. That means that when there’s a sense of panic, your boss will decide to put you in charge of vital projects – you can be trusted to make sure it all runs smoothly. That’ll give you a few feathers in your cap when you come to ask for your rise or promotion.

Open Up

People who are open and honest tend to be seen as more trustworthy than those who are private or secretive. It’s not really fair most of the time, but that’s the way it is. If you are a private person, try to be a little more forthcoming about yourself – you’ll find it helps your image. You don’t have to bare your soul; just join in talking about your holiday or discussing your favorite music, or tell the odd anecdote about when you were a child.

Next Page »