By Goke Ilesanmi
Are you really satisfied with the salary you earn? If you are afraid to answer me, move away from where your boss is and answer me in your privacy. It is a fact of life that we all want to be paid what we believe or know we are worth. In short, Andrew Griffiths says in his book “101 Survival Tips for Your Business” that you should not be afraid to charge what you are worth. To get paid for your worth, you need to radiate unique skills.
When you know your exact value, you will request and get the right pay you really deserve. But the major challenge here is that we more often than not, we overlook our best skills, that is, our innate talents, probably because we perform them naturally. Many people undervalue what they are and overvalue what they are not.
You can emphasise your soft skills such as exceptional interpersonal relationship, great team play, ability to work under pressure, energetic self-starting, etc., rather than focus on technical skills such as ability to write well, ability to repair computers perfectly, etc., which are very common. Let us illustrate with two presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Bill Clinton. Research shows that Romney emphasised his political views not his business acumen while Clinton concentrated on his skill of interpersonal intelligence as his unique selling point, during their political campaigns.
Closing the gap
Ms. Whitney Johnson, author of “Dare-Dream-Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream”, educates that as we attempt to close the gap between what we are paid and what we are worth, there is a lesson to be learnt from the stock market. Johnson adds that in her experience, the stocks that trade at fair value or even a premium compared to their peers are those that know the kind of stocks they are, and then deliver “sustaining innovation”. When we apply this strategy to our career, when we offer the marketplace a unique set of skills and focus on our distinctive innate talents rather than common skills, we are more likely to achieve success and increase what we earn.
Many people hate negotiation because they are afraid of being taken advantage of, especially when they think that they are in a weak position. But the combination of the strategy of negotiation and persuasion can make you achieve results. Negotiation involves reaching an agreement on price or on the specific terms of an agreement; while persuasion, on the other hand, is the art of getting people to go along with your points of view, to see everything your own way. But you need negotiation skills to be a good persuader and you need persuasion skills to be a good negotiator.
Salary negotiation is a concrete example of negotiation that people hate. Ed Brodow, a motivational speaker, negotiation guru and author of “Negotiate with Confidence and Beating the Success Trap” says, “Has the fear of rejection – of losing the job or antagonising your boss – kept you from putting your best foot forward in negotiating your livelihood?” If your answer is “Yes”, then there are ways out of your situation.
The first way out of your situation is to do your research before negotiating your salary or asking for a rise. You need to find out the policy of the organisation on salaries to know if a fixed range has been established for your position. Also try to know what other people in comparable positions inside the organisation are being paid. Find out what other organisations pay for this position as well as your importance to the organisation. Brodow says if others are being paid more, and you are a key employee, be assertive; but if the policy is not to pay what you want, and you are replaceable, then be prepared to go.
Knowing what you want
Another thing is to know what you want. Mariette Edwards, a business and career strategist says, “Have you ever been at a loss for words when someone asked you what you do? Stumbled through a response trying to describe the kind of job you are looking for? Questioned why you aren’t connecting with the opportunities you seek? Maybe it’s time to get clear about what you really want.” Steve Kaye, Ph.D., who helps leaders get enduring results, advises that you must know what you want because this obvious step is essential. First make a list of what you want, then go deeper to find why you want it.
Susanne Gaddis, PhD, an acknowledged communications expert corroborates this assertion by saying before you ask, know what you want or need. This is a critical first step. Think about precisely what you want before you even say one word.
Findings show that many people negotiate for a salary (rise) without having a clear idea of what they want. You need to first know how much you will be satisfied with and then the maximum you think the position will attract. It may be more than your target. If it is, you might begin by asking for more than you want. If the maximum is less than your target, determine if it is acceptable to you and the least you will accept, that is, your bottom line.
Stress benefits derivable from your pay rise
In persuasive business writing, it is said that you must always concentrate on audience-focused benefits not what benefits you. That is why one is expected to include expected benefits and Return on Investment of one’s (prospective) client in a proposal for instance. People easily give when they receive a reward in return. Thus, identify how others can benefit by meeting your requests. For example, suppose you want a pay rise, you can say, “My salary rise will definitely elicit extraordinary performance from me to the extent that organisational productivity and profitability be will be greatly enhanced.”
Choosing the right time
Choosing the right time constitutes another strategy. In short, one of the fundamentals of effective persuasion is right timing. Gaddis says there are, in fact, more appropriate times than others to make a request. First, consider whether it would be better to ask in private or with others nearby. Some people get flustered when a private matter is discussed in public. Do not discuss your salary as an afterthought by saying, “Before I forget, there is something I think I should talk about too.” Accord the matter the desired attention by arranging a special meeting that will focus on your salary increase.
Be emphatic yet polite
To get the pay that you deserve, experts say you also need to be emphatic and bold, yet polite. You can say, “Sir, I know my worth is more than N100,000 I am being offered/I am being paid”. Though Nigerian applicants or workers may find this difficult to say given the saturation of the employment market. Experts say if your prospective employer does not agree to your price, maybe you do not belong there. The result is always positive. Either you get paid for what you know you are worth or you discover that this is not the right organisation for you.
Steve Kaye, Ph.D., who helps leaders get results that last, says you need to be courageous. “We must be willing to fail in order to succeed. Thus, begin with a goal, plan an approach, make the request, and then improve everything. The more you ask, the more you’ll receive. And the better you’ll become at asking for more,” expatiates Kaye.
Other accruable benefits and employer’s offer
Also find out if there are other benefits in the organisation and see if you can accept more intangible rewards, e.g., vacation time, flexible hours, working from home, bigger title, more responsibility, stock options, pension plans, etc. Consider these items as part of the overall salary picture.
Another thing is to get the (prospective) employer to make the first offer. If you are interviewed for the job, ask, “How much does this position attract?” If you are negotiating for a pay rise, ask, “How much of a rise can you approve?” Your employer may surprise you by offering more than you expect. If you are offered less, or asked to name a figure, ask for more than you want.
Employer’s perspective and your extreme position
One of the rules of effective persuasion is to concentrate on issues important to your audience. Therefore, approach it from the employer’s perspective. What is your value to the employer? Do not say, “I have five children and pay heavy school fees on them, so can I have a pay rise?” You are not being compensated based upon your need. Phrase it from the employer’s point-of-view, e.g., “My productivity and by implication, profitability of our organisation will be greatly enhanced through my pay rise.”.
Another thing is to ask for more than you are willing to accept and you can always settle for less. Experts say if you open the negotiation with your goal, that is, what you will be satisfied with, the employer may interpret this as your opening move and offer you less. When you ask for more than you want, (a) you may get it, or (b) you can eventually settle closer to your goal. If you are told, “The salary range for this post is x to y,” you can (a) go for the high end of the range, or (b) challenge the range by explaining how you are an exception.
Make your employer affirm your worth and listen
You can also let your employer affirm your worth. As part of establishing your value to the organisation, it is important to receive your employer’s validation that your are needed. Once you obtain this affirmation, the resistance is lowered.
As in any interview situation, be proactive. You can accomplish this by asking open-ended questions, i.e., questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Ask your questions and keep quiet. This is necessary because you need to follow the 70/30 Rule which says you should listen 70 per cent of the time and speak only 30 per cent of the time. The less you talk, the more information you will get, and the better people will feel about you. We all like people who listen to us. Let the employers talk themselves into giving you what you want.
Be prepared to walk if necessary
Ed Brodow, a motivational speaker, negotiation guru and author of “Negotiate with Confidence and Beating the Success Trap” says, “I call this Brodow’s Law – always be willing to walk away from a negotiation if you can’t get what you want. Another way of putting it is, never negotiate without options.” In a salary negotiation, your willingness to walk away gives you tremendous power. The employer will sense it.
Steve corroborates this by saying you need to welcome rejection, adding that in some cases, rejection may be better than acceptance. The other person may be protecting you from a situation that would be harmful, such as a job where you would fail or a relationship where you would be miserable. Rejection also leads to improvement. It challenges you to find ways to change your approach or revise your request.
If you are desperate for the job and show that you have no alternatives, your employers will sense your desperation. As Brodow puts is, “Face it, the worst thing that can happen is, you’ll have to look for another job – a BETTER job. They can’t shoot you! If you know what you want and stick to it, you will win no matter what happens. SO YOU NEED COMMITMENT.”
Mariette Edwards, a business and career strategist, consultant, speaker and writer also says many people know exactly what they want but are unwilling to commit to it. Edwards adds that lack of commitment is really about fear. You may be afraid that committing to what you want will limit your opportunities. “But just the opposite is true. If you will not commit to asking for what you really want, if you are vague and equivocating, you will only confuse others about what kind of opportunity to bring you,” stresses Edwards.
It is a fact that asking for things that matter can be challenging. People fear rejection and therefore ask for too little or nothing. As a result, they suffer in silence with less than they could have. Ask for what you deserve today and live comfortably.
GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Certified Public Speaker/MC, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Career Management Coach. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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