When someone tells a good joke, I have a hard time repeating it and getting the punch line right. If someone walking past me has blue hair, I’ll blurt out loud “blue” instead of thinking it to myself.
Timing is really everything: knowing when to listen and when to speak is an important career tool. When you tell a story, the depth of detail you share can determine whether you keep an audience’s attention or not. I once took a writing class that emphasized the importance of pace, tension, climax, and the finale in a story. It’s the difference between an ‘okay’ book and a really stellar one. In negotiations, the story we tell can impact the result of a business agreement or salary review.
THE WHEN AND HOW OF COMPENSATION CONVERSATIONS
The first conversation typically does not include compensation so be patient. Once everyone is convinced they want to work together, be prepared to receive an offer and recognize that it is open to negotiation. Compensation is not just your base pay, it includes many types of benefits some are more traditional like healthcare or retirement. Other benefits have grown in importance like flexible location or hours, how leave can be used, or childcare/eldercare benefits.
This isn’t a first interview topic when the romance of the interview process has just begun and both sides are looking for chemistry. If there is alignment the company will raise the topic naturally.
Once the discussion moves to compensation you may be asked to provide an answer about your expected salary. If so, redirect with a query about a range for the role. Once you know the range, explain that you are willing to accept a salary within it but do not state a specific number. Remember! Compensation talks are negotiations. The first offer is the company’s first move, and your opening to respond with a counter request. At this point the hiring process is serious and you should only proceed if you are confident about your role, the organization, and you are sincerely interested.
WHEN TO ASK FOR A REVIEW
Most organizations have an annual review protocol. Some are self-evaluations and others include 360-degree input. Whatever format the review is in it’s good to understand what is expected, which goals are important, and key milestones for you as a professional. Roles and responsibilities can change, if that happens it’s time to ask for guidance: additional input, a review out of cycle, or a re-evaluation of your last review. A special request can be made for lots of reasons: additional training or a license earned, a request for overtime or resources for one person who’s doing the job of 2 people.
Request feedback, support, and documentation, so you can measure progress and continue to grow as a professional.
WHEN TO ASK FOR A RAISE
As we emerge from a global pandemic the economic impact and realities are different than in any previous crisis. When asking for a raise, consider the market and business landscape before you make your move. Do the research and build a business case to support your “Ask”. You should be able to demonstrate, based on the value you contribute to the company, why you have earned a raise. If you have learned new skills or a professional degree, or recently had a positive review, use this as leverage. This supporting evidence can demonstrate additional impact on the bottom line of your organization and how you deliver higher value to clients.
A concise story that highlights the impact of your initiative on a company will deliver good results!
WHEN TO ASK FOR A PROMOTION
Are you constantly taking on more responsibility? Would you like to move up to the next level in your organization? Sit down with your manager to discuss expectations and make a plan before you are burned out. If you need additional skills or training to achieve these results, then create a timeline to prepare you for a promotion. Track your progress on mutually agreed-upon goals and build a strong pitch that provides details on how you are ready for the next step. If it’s a long-term career goal then do research to understand what actions will set you up for future growth.
WHEN TO LOOK FOR A NEW JOB
You have been dedicated, loyal and love your job and co-workers. Unfortunately, you feel stuck or stale. Communicate your frustration in a professional way to managers. If your feedback isn’t taken seriously following a review, your raise request is denied without merit, or you get passed over for that promotion (again) despite meeting your milestones consistently — or your heart is just no longer in the job — it’s time to warm up your network and begin to ramp up the process of informational interviews.
This is a healthy approach to identify other opportunities and your next role so that you are able to make your career transition in a thoughtful way!
Timing is everything. If you are intentional, do your homework, and find win-win situations that benefit you and others the results will be strong. A business is better suited for growth with the right people in the “right seats on the bus”. Intonation, punch lines, and your delivery truly matter.
Take a pause, think about your goals, imagine what organizations and others value, and position yourself for success. Remember, if your “Ask” doesn’t work the first time, it might not have been the right time. Recognize what you learn from the failure to do it differently the next go-around!