How do you approach your current employer when you are proactively seeking an internal promotion, a pay raise or additional elements in your total compensation (including benefits) package? (Negotiating Series – Part #4)

Judith Cushman All Posts, Negotiating Skills 0 Comments

negotiating skills career transitions compensation advice judith cushman associates HR career consultantsAnswer:  Here’s a question about negotiating on your terms which can be seen as a risky proposition.  If you are a senior officer in your company and have an employment contract, negotiating the terms when the contract is up for renewal, is a normal part of doing business with the company. However, deciding to step forward and ask for an increase in your compensation package at a managerial or professional level can be a risky step.

Your supervisor can see this request as an indication you are restless and ready to look beyond the department for a better situation.  He may see your action as inappropriate. He may feel his judgment is being questioned since you felt the need to ask rather than wait for him to offer you a promotion and/or an increase in compensation.

On the other hand, your request can be seen by your immediate supervisor as a positive step where you are asserting your interest in growth and moving ahead to greater challenges in the company. That is a selfless attitude and indicates the supervisor is looking at the bigger picture and responding to your request in order to retain you. That will allow you to make even more significant contributions to the organization over a longer time with the organization. Instead of quietly becoming under-utilized and moving on, you are saying, “I’d like to stay and contribute using my full potential.” It might be good to include that message in your letter with your initial request to discuss your performance.

My recommendation is if you feel you are ready for a promotion or for an increase in compensation, then you should carefully assess your relationship with your supervisor and his supervisor and most likely move ahead. Having those two levels of management involved, I think, elevates the conversation and encourages longer -term thinking.

Before taking any action to request an appointment for a review you must be thoroughly prepared by finding out what company policies are re: guidelines for frequency of reviews and salary range caps. There is no point in asking if your supervisor is limited in what s/he can grant.

If you have an annual or semi-annual formal meeting to discuss performance and increases, that is when to prepare your request in writing for a meeting and outline the points for discussion. Since your employer is busy, start 4-weeks ahead of your normal date for a review to request a time for discussion.  It may take a second or third follow-up to pin down a specific in-person meeting. Ask for a response within 10-days to firm up a meeting and then send a reminder if needed.

When you request the meeting attach a note indicating the points that you would like to discuss. Be clear that you are focusing on your future with the current organization and you are hoping your action will encourage company loyalty and stability as you continue to be challenged. There is no need to outline all the details in your request for a meeting. However, prior to the meeting I would recommend that your preparation for the in-person meeting includes all the points you consider relevant. Is your current job description reflective of what you are accomplishing? Is it time to revise your job description?   Can you do a comparison with what you are accomplishing and what an officer that is one job above yours describes as his/her responsibilities? How close are you re: skill sets and experience to being qualified for that role? Discuss what will qualify you for a promotion. Suggest a plan be created that you will follow for that to occur.

Follow-up and write a quick summary of the meeting and what was agreed to and send it to your supervisor and his supervisor. Also, agree upon follow-up meetings on a regular basis to see if you are doing incrementally better. I suspect the more factual you can be to provide statistics about comparable jobs outside the organization, e.g. salary, additional compensation and benefits, the more reasonable your request appears for an increase.

Professionalism and an orderly plan of action with regular meetings to mark progress will put this entire process on high ground. It will establish you as a thoughtful and fair employee who respectfully and reasonably follows-up regularly until there is an agreement about compensation and other issues are resolved.

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