The beginning of April for a lot of companies, means the start of a new financial year. For employees, it means finding out whether you have been given a pay rise and hopefully, a promotion.
I’ve personally had that awkward conversation with my manager several times and I mostly ended up being told to “wait another year” or to improve in some unclear way with no further elaboration. I felt frustrated and diminished by these responses and soon realised that I needed to communicate my needs and emotions differently. Managers should also learn how to do this because a failed conversation around this subject can lead to a disgruntled employee, inter-personal conflict or a lack of motivation. They may even decide to leave, once they’ve received their bonus. That was certainly my response on a couple of occasions.
If you find it hard to ask for what you want, think about what it is that’s blocking you. Here are some of the conscious and subconscious reasons you might be finding it hard:
- You feel embarrassed asking for more money or recognition;
- You are intimated by authority;
- Your conflict style is to avoid confrontation;
- You are concerned about rejection, or disapproval;
- You fear rejection or that having spoken out, you will lose approval;
- You are worried about upsetting your manager;
- You feel undeserving of a salary increase or promotion;
- You don’t really want it but you need it for some other reason.
It wasn’t intentional but I was raised to believe that a man in authority should not be burdened by a woman’s needs or wants. His needs come first and I learned early on, that I had to accommodate his and silence mine. My parents weren’t even aware of this themselves but it was reinforced by my life experience and formed my perceptions which later held me back in how I communicated and what I believed I could achieve.
The result? I spoke without really communicating my message. Instead of learning to do that, I quit. But I kept repeating the same cycle and feeling the same frustration until eventually, I learned some vital communication techniques which led to more satisfying conversations with colleagues and managers and better self-esteem. Hopefully, my top tips will help you too.
5 Top Tips
- Identify What You Want. If you want a pay rise, how much do you want? If it’s a promotion, what do you want to be promoted to?
- Prepare for the Conversation before you have it. You can’t predict what the other person will say but you can prepare how you will communicate what you want and how you feel. If you are asking for a pay rise, research the market to see if the request is in line with what you should be paid in comparison to other companies. Check out the salary calculator so you are certain of what an increase will mean for you after tax. Asking for a 100% pay rise is probably unrealistic but one that surpasses the Bank of England rate of inflation by a certain percentage, is an appropriate justification for the figure you propose.
- Don’t be afraid to express your emotions but follow up with a fact. Using phrases like “I feel disappointed by the fact that …” are helpful because ignoring your emotions will lead to anger. When you feel resentful or irritated, you cannot communicate effectively. All your manager will hear is your anger and not the message. Try the following phrases: “I feel concerned by the fact that” or “I feel unmotivated by the fact that”. To encourage cooperation, you might wish to express emotions which are considered to be positive such as “I feel hopeful that we can find a solution to this” or “I feel encouraged by the fact that…” Try to avoid phrases that could be perceived as judgemental or blaming such as “I feel irritated by the fact that yet again, you have passed me over for a promotion.” Compare that to “I feel disappointed by the fact that the Company has not promoted me this year and I want to be put forward this year for the role of …”
- Say What You Want Clearly and Confidently. Just say it. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t suggest and don’t hesitate. If you know what’s holding you back, you can put it to one side. I still feel fear when expressing something which I think will meet disapproval from a man in authority but knowing that that’s a default setting of mine, I acknowledge it and say what I need to say anyway. It’s uncomfortable but that’s how you grow.
- Support It With Evidence. Facts speak for themselves. Compile a list of clients you have brought to the business, sales figures, initiatives that you have organised and the benefit to the company or anything that shows that you have contributed value that cannot be ignored.
Getting that Pay Rise
Negotiating a pay rise involves understanding the interests of your manager and the company in general. Consider whether there are financial difficulties. Is a pay rise realistic in these circumstances? If in doubt, ask the questions you need to. Part of a successful negotiation is disclosing and requesting the right information.
You should also prepare for the possibility that your request could be refused. Think about what you will do next including key conflict considerations. It could be the push you need to move on and find another job. Alternatively, it could mean the chance to work out with your manager the steps you need to take to get a pay rise or a promotion for next year. Don’t be afraid to ask !
What do you think ? Let me know your experiences !