how to get a pay rise: what the experts say
Sunday 28 January 1996
"If you really want more money it should be a long-term project. The first thing to do is set about establishing a rapport with the decision maker. This is called 'ingratiation'. Establish similarity. If they vote Conservative, so do you; if they play golf, so do you. If they're interested in bird watching, you look up everything on bird watching and come in and say, 'Ooh, did you see the lesser-spotted whatever has been found wherever.'
"Other things will help, too. People who successfully ask for wage rises make sure they tell others how good they are. They blow their own trumpet and it works. If you hide your light under a bushel, under that bushel is where you'll stay - I'm afraid there is no justice in the world. Another technique is called 'deflecting blame' - don't get involved if something goes wrong. It was always the other guy. And use flattery - compliment the boss on the way he or she handled something well.
"After a couple of months, you do a little presentation, confidently and assertively, not humbly, and the result should be a matter of routine. It's even better if you can avoid the meeting altogether, and bring the project to the logical conclusion without even having to ask.
"The longer you keep up the pressure, the more likely you are to succeed. You do have to have a high level of social skills - if you're normally a shrinking violet who suddenly starts complimenting the boss, say, the guy is likely to get suspicious. But it's amazing how outrageous you can be if you do it in a gentle, affable way. It's not a battle, more a question of guerrilla tactics. You have to develop a Machiavellian personality."
Patricia Cleghorn, principal, The Self-Esteem Company, and author of The Secrets of Self-Esteem (Element, pounds 6.99)
"First, do some research. Know the wage structure, and the way employees are ranked. Have the confidence to ask if you don't know - you can be quite open and above-board. And make sure you approach the right person when you ask for more money - responsibility might be with either personnel or management, so get the right one.
"Then prepare yourself. It's very important to build up a sense of self- value. You have to have outward evidence that you are an achiever, but on a more subtle level you need self-esteem - you need to have an inner CV of the good qualities and abilities you have. There mustn't be a flicker of doubt in your mind, or it will be like trying to sell something when you have a sneaking suspicion about its value. So check how you think of yourself - if you are beset by self-doubt, just gently change your thoughts around. Negative thoughts can impede your progress and even stop you asking for your rise - so convert them into helpful areas. It's also really helpful if you can learn to integrate your emotions - recognise what you're feeling, let it move and change. Don't bottle up feelings like fear of asking for more money, anger at not being offered it, or even desperation; if you do, they may well be present in the actual conversation you have with the relevant person.
"If you are told 'no', find out if it's simply because you've asked at the wrong time. Ask to talk further. Try to avoid closing on 'no'. You may need to persist - subtly, so they don't disappear when they see you.
"The next step is facing the fact that if you are doing a lot and not getting recognition, your next pay rise may be with another company. Do you really want more money for the job you're doing now, or are you saying to yourself: 'I'm flogging my guts out, putting in overtime and I may as well get paid for it'? I'm for people discovering what they really want."
The Self-Esteem Company 0181 579 0435
Jeff Grout, managing director of Robert Hale recruitment company: "Check the market rate for your position. In some jobs this is easier for others - an accountant can get in touch with an agency, send in their CV, and say 'What can I get?' But using this information properly is important. The English aren't good at influencing skills - either they are really wimpy, or they go in all guns blazing, and both of those get you precisely nowhere.
"A more subtle strategy might be to say to your boss: 'I've had two or three calls out of the blue about new jobs. I'm perfectly happy where I am - but I noticed that the salaries they mentioned were higher.' Follow this up by reminding them of a concrete piece of work that your boss said was very good. You have to finesse, be oblique. If there's no money available, be sympathetic, have a fall-back position to trade with - a bonus, a definite commitment to an early review, or some paid time off.
"The best time to have this conversation is five or six weeks before salary reviews are set, not after, because by then, the tail is wagging the dog. It's no good saying that you've only been given 5 per cent and you wanted more, because by then it's too late.
"Never be threatening. And remember that you have to earn a pay rise, you're not given one. The key is to remind the boss of your achievements. Don't go in with a story like 'I can't afford my new flat' or 'My wife earns more than me' or 'I can't afford to support my wife and my girlfriend', which are all things people have come up with in the past. No one gets paid what they need, they get what they deserve."
Ben Williams, occupational psychologist
"There are six influencing strategies that you can combine to secure your pay rise - if they don't work, you try again. The first is Friendliness. Attempt to influence your manager by causing them to think well of you. The second is Negotiation - suggest an exchange of benefits. For example, if you give me a pay rise I will work late to get things done, or get some extra training, or visit clients on my way into work, or whatever is appropriate. Third is Reason - use data and information. If you're asking for a raise of pounds 1,000 say: "Look, it's only one per cent of the extra pounds 100,000 worth of business I've brought in this year." Fourth is Assertiveness, which can be a two-edged sword - you influence by being forceful, and taking your own needs into account as well as the companies. The next one, using Higher Authority, is also a tricky one. Speaking to your boss's boss is really a backup strategy when you know your boss just won't agree. But beware - it can create ill-feeling in your relationship with your own manager, and if you rely on it too frequently it can undermine your own credibility. It's often better just to hint at it. Lastly, use Coalition. Mobilise other people to speak on your behalf - suppliers, customers, colleagues.
"For all of the above, preparation is the secret. Write down your points and practise in front of the mirror. But if things do get difficult, you may need to make use of conflict management techniques. There are six you could try. Firstly, always use 'I' versus 'you' language - instead of saying, 'You are a terrible boss, you've never given me a pay rise' say 'I feel upset when my efforts are not rewarded financially' - this doesn't cast your boss as the villain. Use Anticipation; if you know there is a limited budget, voice the problem before the other person. Then say something like, 'I know you appreciate the work I do,' and move across to using other tactics like Reason or Coalition.
Look out for Body Language - your boss may be agreeing with you, but you can tell they aren't convinced. Say, 'By the tone of your voice I can tell you disagree' and bring the objection out into the open. Bring in their own Self-Interest. Point out that highly motivated staff are an asset; perhaps that other departments pay more highly and their own is less credible because it pays less well; or maybe even say 'If I get a rise I'll be closer to your own wage level, so then you can jack up your own salary.'
"You could also try Limit Setting - point out that you asked for a pay rise six months ago, say, and if you don't get it, you will have to think seriously about moving. Use Consequences to negotiate round a refusal. Suggest that if you don't get your rise, perhaps you should get another benefit like a company car, or joining the company pension scheme."
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