You may have heard this more than once: 'Pay review! Chance would be a fine thing! My employer just wants to announce the increase at the beginning of the year or put a note in my pay packet'.
Same for pay negotiations - 'no such thing - my boss decides or my union negotiates for me'. Now, if this is true for you but you still want to negotiate, then you must find something that you value that you can negotiate. And don't be like Oliver Twist. Don't just say 'more please'.
Negotiating is different.
It is not about asking, it is about trading. You have something your employer wants; and the value of what is wanted has not yet been agreed (with you).
Tension and uncertainty could work in your favour.
The thought of a negotiation can make some people defensive. If this is the case then call it by another name. Maybe you could call it a 'review meeting'. Whether you are an employee, a casual or a contractor you could say something like 'I'd like to discuss my future, I've got some concerns, when would be a good time to meet?'
Now a good number of bosses would want to stop everything and talk to you straight away. Talking straight away however might well reduce their tension and uncertainty. Now, that tension and uncertainty could work in your favour. Let them wait a couple of days. Let them wonder what's on your mind. I call this technique 'making the stew' (and then lowering the boss into the stew for two or three days).
You are sending a signal about your future.
At 'the review meeting' begin by sincerely asking 'how are things' for them before saying that you have 'some concerns' you would like to discuss. Indicate that you 'want to stay in the job' but you 'need some clarity on your future prospects'. You can then get a discussion going about your future which could include eligibility for pay rises, bonuses, improved conditions and opportunities for development.
You can say that you just want to be absolutely clear on how these are earned and how you will be rewarded for your good work. Even if your organisation has a formal procedure for this, you will still benefit from sharing your aspirations for the future with your manager in an informal way. You are sending a signal about your future.
For every review or negotiation it may be worthwhile you having two lists. The first list could have 'no cost' or 'low cost' items that are of value to you but are relatively easy for your employer to give you. If your employer resists some of the items on this list then suggest a trial period and an early review to reassure your boss.
Typical First List (just suggestions - you should compile your own list)
1. You attend and eventually participate at all higher level management meetings
2. You take charge of all your own staff's 'hiring and firing' decisions
3. You become a member of the group that devises the business plan
4. You take charge of all delegated budgets
5. You contribute to and 'sign-off' of all policy documents
6. You visit other organisations to research 'best practice'
7. You take over and run meetings with customers or other stakeholders
8. You take all purchasing decisions for your unit
9. You take charge of your unit's pay budget
10. You take over the organisation completely for a week at a time (as career development)
Offer a money back guarantee
Your second list could have 'cost items' on it if you are able now, or in the future, to negotiate your own pay and conditions. Again if your employer resists items on this list then suggest a trial period e.g. you could offer a money back guarantee: 'If after 6 months or a year you do not think I am worth the extra then don't pay me the extra!'
Typical Second List (just suggestions - you should compile your own list)
1. Pay rates - how much you earn per hour, per day, per year etc.
2. Pay increases - automatic, earned or incremental
3. Cost savings incentives - where you get a share of any savings you make
4. Company car or equivalent private use of vehicle
5. More pay for extra qualifications and/or responsibility
6. Overtime/extra hours rate
7. Extra holiday leave
8. Increased training and development budget, including attending external courses
9. Travel expenses to get to externall courses
10. Private Health Plan/Dental Plan
Be clear on what you are trading in order to get what you want.
Now that you have your shopping lists you will need to find a way to pay for them so be clear on what you are trading in order to get what you want. For example - Are you offering?
1. Cost savings?
2. Greater productivity?
3. More leave, in lieu of a pay rise?
4. Set pay budget that you control?
5. Greater flexibility e.g. hours worked?
6. To take on additional responsibilities?
7. Long term pay deals in return for loyalty?
8. To give up some 'perks' in return for cash?
9. To reduce your overtime rate for a higher basic salary?
10. Additional vocational qualifications and the better work that comes from them?
In your preparation you will need to anticipate what the employer wants from you and their likely reactions. You might consider having what are known as 'positions' i.e.
1. An optimistic position - the most you think you can get
2. A pessimistic position - the least you will accept
3. A realistic position - what you think you will actually get.
Frank's Sixth Law of Negotiation: Always ask for more than you want.
It is important to always ask for more than you want. This is so that your employer can 'knock you down' and feel that they have 'won' the negotiation.
You should move politely from discussing 'concerns' to making tentative proposals at the same meeting, or at another time to suit both parties. Make as many tentative proposals as you can so that you can 'trade' them later on.
Listen carefully and note reactions and counter-proposals. Give understanding nods when you hear your employer's concerns and summarise their views saying that you 'want to get this right'. Once you are clear on both sides' tentative proposals, suggest that you are, or will soon be, ready to offer concrete proposals and make a fair deal.
From this point onwards it is vital to preface every firm proposal with the words 'if you …. then I' as in 'if you (agree to an increased training budget), then I (will report clear benefits to the organisation of every training course attended').
Tackle 'easy to agree' low cost items first and save the important stuff until later on to give you a chance to trade up at the end. If you can get more 'little ones' you will feel better if you did not get the entire 'big one' (your pay) this time around. Always consider phasing the 'big one' over time. This approach has worked well for many people and their employers.
At the end congratulate the other side on a job well done and immediately write up your understanding of the deal.
This is vital for contractors. If you do not have a contract at the moment then do some research and get your legal advisor e.g. the BIGGA or IOG Legal Help Lines to check things for you and make suggestions. You may even find that as a contractor or a casual you should actually (in law) be on the payroll - if that is want you want.
Finally, remember there is no win or lose in negotiation, just more negotiation next year and the year after.
If you have an urgent question about negotiating you can contact Frank via his personal website www.franknewberry.com