- Wise Words -
Surprise your boss.
Ask for a career plan rather than a raise
by ilene rapkin
In a performance or salary review, here are six probing questions that every employee should ask:
Almost all negotiations favor the person with the power to make a decision. When you negotiate, be a stealth missile. Hide your position and target your arguments towards career growth.
Make sure your manager is not only invested in your future advancement, but that she or he is invested in DEVELOPING it with you. This is an alternate way to view negotiation: begin with forging the relationship. Then discuss the steps you need to take for advancement and success at your company.
Steps for Success
For you to own your negotiation and achieve your desired outcome, there are five steps you need to take to reframe your negotiation conversations at your company.
1. You must do the prep: When you are working with a client, you practice due diligence to gather as much intel as possible about their motivations, their challenges, their needs, their budgets and the general culture of their company. In preparing for an internal review, you need to do the same kind of recon. Most of us lack the native skill to identify all of the right questions to ask. Seek out the person you can trust and depend upon during this process, either outside or inside your company,
2. Map the outcome you want – not just today, but long term: What do you really want from the negotiation and what do you want as a career growth path at your company? If a title change or increased compensation is not imminent, figure out ways to keep moving the dialog forward. Do not think the negotiation has ended. Rather, view it as a first phase of satisfying your personal career ambition.
3. Get your manager invested in your career: We all know that it is hard to get time with our boss. However, we do have the power to set regular meetings with agendas. One of the agenda points - on a quarterly basis, don't become that person who is forever asking for career growth - should be how the company perceives you and what skills you need to develop for career growth.
No matter how busy good bosses are, they are attracted to and need employees who can help them achieve goals. You should not wait to be that person. Instead, proactively seek out opportunities and situations that will positively affirm people's perceptions of you. Remember your growth areas. Offer to help with projects that will change your manager’s perception of you and see you in a new way, and potentially in a more senior role.
4. Build consensus through team work: Real advancement only happens when a lot of people in a company perceive you as valuable. Make sure you are on the right track, not only with your boss but with other key department heads. For instance, if you have been told you need help with public speaking, have you proactively sought media training or conducted role-playing sessions with your colleagues?
Build consensus at your company by having a positive attitude toward your growth areas and showing people you are becoming more effective at developing your skills. Create opportunities for professional development and schedule regular check-ins.
5. Feeling confident that you have a right to ask for what you really want: If you follow all of these steps, no one will be surprised by the ask. These steps will be successful, only if you take a long view, i.e. be patient because it is a process and not one meeting. Give the process at least 6 months and if you get what you want sooner then take it for what it is. A win. Never begin a negotiation conversation without your custom game plan in effect.
Otherwise it is usually an open and shut case because your manager will likely have a lot of experience with these negotiations and you do not. Asking the right questions leads to better communication and dialogue, which will help you pinpoint your perceived strengths and growth areas to be developed with the guidance of your manager.
For more on Annual Reviews see: "Tips & Tricks to Ace Your Annual Review" and "Making the Grade at Your Annual Review Meeting"
ILENE RAPKIN is president of the workplace improvement agency I Openers. Previously, she led sales and marketing teams at American Express Publishing, Condé Nast publishing and Primedia. Find her at: www.iopeners.net
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