The secret to getting paid what you’re worth. Hint: it’s not about working harder.

Minion Money
If you’re going to work for somebody, make sure you’re getting what you’re worth.

We spend most of our waking hours working. So, how come most of us never ask for a raise?

The truth: most of us just don’t know how to get that pay raise. The criteria for getting a raise seems dictated by God, fate, random chance, or that quote from your inspirational cat poster.

Most people think:
“If my boss really cared, she’d recognize how hard I’m working and pay me more.”

Here’s the key though: That’s never going to happen….

Think about it a moment, would you pay your worker $400 if she’s happy with $300?

The reason no one negotiates

People are afraid of negotiating because they think it can only go 2 ways:.

One:

Storm into the boss’s office, sweep everything off the desk, and loudly demand a raise. When the request is denied, rant about the insane hours you’re working and quit huffily, preferably slamming the door behind you.

Two:

Mumble something under our breath:”I’ve been here for 3 years now now and haven’t gotten a raise…..”

BOSS: “There’s no budget for that. Maybe next year”

We then mumble “ok” softly and exit the room, feeling mildly violated and lied to. We know people are getting raises, so why not us?

Step 1: Getting to that table mentally

Most of us lose before we even start negotiating because we tell ourselves things like:

  • “I can’t negotiate, what if they fire me?”
  • “The economy is terrible, so they can’t give me a raise now”

So we settle. We settle for less than we deserve. Look, a few thousand dollars a year is nothing for a company. But those same few thousand dollars can make an impact on our lives.

You don’t have to be a master negotiator or work double the hours you’re doing now. It just requires a little finesse.

Top performers have a good shot at negotiating a salary increase in any economy because they make themselves indispensable to the company. If you start thinking of yourself of just another cog in the wheel, that the economy determines your ability to get a raise, then you are by definition, not a top performer.

Step 2: Prime the target

Getting a raise is a process and it’s not going to happen overnight. 90% of the work is done before you even start negotiating. The key part is to put in time and effort on the right things. I’ve spoken about the finding the language of success and the key people you have to impress in your company previously. That will help you to get the lay of the land.

Based the knowledge you’ve gained on your company’s top performers, think of 5 to 7 performance objectives that would increase your value to the firm.

Now, set up a meeting with your boss.

Tell him you would like to be a top performer and ask him if these 5-7 objectives will bring you there.

There’s a reason you want to have these 5-7 objectives before hand. Busy people do not like to think in a vacuum. They love to have something that makes their job easier. Something they can run through and say, yea do this, no definitely don’t do this etc.

Make sure these objectives are quantifiable.

Not ambiguous like “take more initiative”. That will get you in trouble when it comes to the final round. They can say: “You’ve taken initiative but I would like you to take more. etc.”

Everything is quantifiable:

  • Standardizing a business process that saves everyone time (use time saved x people in your firm  x average salary (use payscale.com).
  • Running a learning event (use surveys to determine satisfaction levels, 85% of the people should have found it useful

Step 3: Find out what you’re worth

There are plenty of sites to find out the average salary of someone of your expertise. You can use www.payscale.com.

Several recruitment agencies also publish their own salary guides:

https://www.hudson.sg/salary-guide
https://www.hays.com.sg/salary-guide

If you can respond to some job openings in your area, even better. You might be perfectly satisfied with your position right now, but there’s nothing wrong with seeing if there’s something better out there.

In this step, you’re trying to establish how much your market rate is. Not just for your position, but someone with your specific skill set, personality and experience.

What are you worth to the market?

Step: 4 Crush those objectives and get feedback

Did you know that some doctors actually get worst the more experience they have?
This was one of the key findings in this 2005 Annals of Internal Medicine study .

You’ll think that most people get better in their job with more practice. Here’s a direct quote:

“Physicians with more experience are generally believed to have accumulated knowledge and skills during years in practice and therefore to deliver high-quality care. However, evidence suggests that there is an inverse relationship between the number of years that a physician has been in practice and the quality of care that the physician provides.”

But a particular group of medical profession: surgeons, were shown in a different study to get better with more experience.

What’s going on here?

I’ll like to suggest an explanation. Surgeons have the benefit of quick feedback on whether their skills are working. You mess up, a blood vessel ruptures, a wound isn’t sutured correctly, someone dies. The feedback is immediate.

GPs on the other hand, don’t actually know whether the medicine they give you is working, until weeks later, if at all. Think about it, they can only assume that if you’re not back to see him again, you must have gotten better. But they have no idea of knowing. You might have gone to see someone else.

You’ve set those performance objectives and now you’ve got to crush the. To do that, you have to create these feedback cycles for your performance. Ask yourself every morning if the things you’re doing are helping you reach those objectives. If not, you better get cracking on the things that matter.

Every-time you meet a milestone, send an e-mail to your boss, or better yet, set up a face-to-face to go through what you’ve done. Get feedback from him; what’s working and what’s not. Without deliberate feedback, you have no idea if you’re going in the right direction.

During this time, save any important e-mail correspondences, metrics, charts and evidence of your good work. This will come in handy later.

Step 5 It’s all about the showmanship.

Let’s recap what we’ve done so far:

  1. You’ve established around 5 performance objectives.
  2. You’ve found out what you’re worth
  3. You kept a record of your achievements

All that’s left is to prepare for the final meeting. Have you ever seen an artist come for an interview?

They always bring a little binder that has pages of their previous work. For me, this is the ultimate statement of ability.

Show what you’ve done. Don’t just tell.

Here’s what you should have in your portfolio. This should contain:

  1. The original performance objectives
  2. Evidence of your great performance
  3. A road-map on what you want to achieve in the next 3-6 months.

Print this out and put it into a binder. Assuming you’ve done everything, here’s how this final meeting should go.

1) You want to open open with a softener, something to get your boss into a comfortable mood:

  • “How was your recent vacation”
  • “How are the kids?”

Get them comfortable and relaxed.

2) Then, move them into a series of “yes’es”.

Talk about your performance objectives you have set and milestones you’ve hit.
Use your portfolio here, flip through the achievements you have done.

  • I think I’ve done well in terms of project A, wouldn’t you agree?
  • Do you think the new sales funnel I’ve put in is working well? It’s increased conversion by 35%

Use this phase to get them in the mood to say yes.

3) Then pop the question, “With what I’ve achieved this year, I would like to discuss a compensation adjustment.”

The most common objection that bosses will fall back on is the mythical company budget.

Here’s how to handle it:

BOSS: “There’s no room in the budget right now. Perhaps we can re-visit this in 6-9 months”.

“I understand why the budget would be fixed for an an average performer in the firm.”

“I think we’ve both agreed that I’ve made an above average contribution to the firm.”
(that’s why you got them to agree that you’ve made an above average contribution first).

“Looking at salaries of other companies in the area, a salary of $xxx is something a person with my skill set can get.”
(here’s where the salary research comes in)

“I would love to stay to execute these plans  I have for the next 3-6 months”
(Establishing that you want to stay, and moving their thoughts to the future).

“I just want to make sure the numbers make sense.”

The outcome of this meeting is to secure a commitment for a higher salary. Of course, there are many more subtleties to negotiation that’s too much to cover in a single article.

If you like to know more about negotiation…

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