When talking salary with your boss, it’s important to be well prepared. These are the arguments you should bring with you!
A salary negotiation is an excellent opportunity to clarify your positive contributions over the past year. It is important that you are thoroughly prepared with factual arguments and spesific examples wich your boss can identify and relate to. I have listed below 20 useful tips and examples that will guide you trough the one of the most important talks you could have on your job.
1. Timing. If possible, arrange a meeting about salary when you have performed well. For example, you have successfully completed a project, improved productivity, furthered your education, or acquired knowledge that makes you more flexible in the company.
Another job offer could, of course, also be a natural precursor (see separate point). Choose a good time of day. Do not choose Friday afternoon – most people are transitioning into weekend mode.
2. Determine level. What do others earn in comparable positions with about the same education, seniority, and experience as you?
Check, for example, through the trade union. High demand for your area of expertise could mean increased salary for you. Specify for yourself the maximum and minimum level. Be ambitious, but realistic. Consider why the employer should agree to it. Strong bargaining chips could be fringe benefits.
3. Performance over the past year. Refer to the agreed goals and expectations from the last employee interview. How did it go? Assess your tasks with a focus on the development of responsibility, authority, and difficulty.
- Have you taken on more responsibility?
- Have you achieved the company’s goals?
- Achieved qualitative and quantitative results?
- Completed and finalized tasks within deadlines?
- Have you done what is expected for your salary?
- Are you satisfied or less satisfied with the salary?
- Have you taken initiative and shown engagement for the tasks?
- Taken responsibility for and respected decisions and guidelines?
- Been proactive, for example, worked to prevent, simplify and clarify?
- Personnel responsibility: As a manager, have you given clear assignments and motivated employees?
- Corporate responsibility: As a manager, have you actively taken budget responsibility for your own area of operation?
4. Different personalities. Look at how you can adapt communication and give concrete examples that make sense to the boss.
5. Tailor-made arguments. Build arguments based on the needs of the business. Keywords can be responsibility, performance, result, quality, quantity, initiative, and collaboration ability.
Also, include other points that are important for the company’s goals. Effective arguments are short, simple, concrete, and easy to remember. Economic arguments are almost always strong arguments.
For example: “I have, together with Marit, streamlined the call time on the phone by about x minutes, so now we answer x customers instead of x, an increase of a full x percent. Which results in the company saving x.”
6. Prepared for objections. Make a two-column of your own arguments in one column, against the boss’s possible objections to respective arguments in the other. The two-column makes you well prepared, while unprepared questions can make you lose control.
7. Appearance. It’s not just the arguments that are important, but also the way they are presented. Make sure the conversation is good and constructive.
Be clear, avoid words like “think” and “maybe”, they undermine the power of what you say. Speak calmly, for example, by resting a little on the vowels.
Speak clearly and pronounce the last syllable of the words. Occupy the room, straighten up and radiate confidence.
8. Listen – Responsive – Calm. Three typical characteristics of a good conversation are: Listen. Responsive. Calm.
Some people say they listen when they actually sit and think about what they will say next. Then you miss information and added value. Responsive: Try to be responsive to the underlying so-called meta-message.
Use the responsiveness to read what is not expressed in words, but is still there. Calm: “Speak in anger, and you will deliver the best speech you ever regretted,” said Winston Churchill. Cicero also mentioned that a calm conversation is successful. Humor can also be liberating.
9. Conversation agenda. Get yourself well into the room and spend time on some small talk. Otherwise, stick to the subject. The agenda can include work done related to the last employee conversation, new tasks, and other points of value.
The boss then gives his view: Have you achieved the goals? Kept to schedules? Met expectations? And the boss may explain the connections to salary.
Then there is a dialogue. The boss may come up with a proposal or message about salary. Then repeat what you agree on – it is easy to talk past each other. Take notes along the way.
10. Easy questions first. When you take the easy questions first, the chances of you having a good conversation climate from the start increase.
11. Initiative and specific examples. Participate in steering the conversation by taking the initiative on various questions and other points you want to emphasize.
Focus on what you want to achieve. Give the boss a picture of your successful results over the past year. Clarify with concrete examples. Ask the right questions, but not the ones that make you look naive.
For example, the following question can be constructive: “How do you reason in this case?” or “What can I do to increase my salary?”
12. Show your ambitions. For example, show plans for improvement in the area of responsibility you already have; a desire for new challenges or relevant courses in your spare time that increase your competence.
13. Another job offer? If you have a real job offer from another workplace, you can be stronger in salary negotiations. Signal that you are motivated for your current job, while letting it shine through that you may have alternatives. NB! But proceed cautiously and do not set an ultimatum. In the worst case, you could risk being without a job.
14. Raise with fringe benefits. Better than getting a hefty salary increase, it may be to get good fringe benefits.
The benefits could, for example, be: further education, company car, home PC, parking, or shares and options. See the post about fringe benefits on the next pages. Does the company have bonus schemes?
If not – might it be natural to suggest such a scheme for the company? Such schemes can be an offer for all employees – including you.
15. Don’t stress decisions. 80% of all important decisions in a negotiation are made in the last 20% of the total negotiation time.
Don’t be too eager to finish quickly even if it’s tempting because of the strain.
A salary conversation is emotionally charged for both bosses and employees, shows Granqvist and Regnérs Saco study from 2007. A real dose of self-insight can make the conversation easier.
16. Conclusion. You have taken notes along the way. Now you can summarize and check if you have understood correctly. The boss may now announce if you’re entitled for a raise or not, and specify the new salary if you got it. If it became a deadlocked situation, take a break or schedule a new meeting. No matter the outcome, finish nicely with a smile, eye contact, and preferably a handshake.
17. Notes are worth their weight in gold. Did you get little out of the salary talk? Maybe the company is not among the wage leaders, but instead offers a large degree of freedom, co-determination, and fringe benefits, or maybe you have a job that provides valuable content? Keep good arguments, write down what went well, and what went less well. The notes are worth their weight in gold for upcoming workdays and before the next conversation.