NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Even some of the most assertive people in the world still have trouble successfully negotiating a salary increase. It can be awkward for an employee to ask his boss directly for added compensation. But how can you bite and bullet and ensure that 2015 will be a more lucrative year than 2014?
Ask for a Meeting
Tyler Tervooren of Riskology.co, a company that encourages people to take risks in their professional lives and beyond, notes that you'll have to ask for a meeting to get a raise. With that said, he urges you to be transparent about your reasons for wanting a meeting.
"Tell them you're going to talk about compensation," he says. "Don't schedule a mystery meeting."
Requesting a mystery meeting is a great way to start your meeting off on the wrong foot. So be clear and upfront about your intentions.
Prepare Your Data
"Prepare all the stuff you would for a normal interview," says Tervooren. This includes past performance reviews, as well as performance metrics.
Leslie Ungar, a communication coach and expert with Electric Impulse Communication, says that "communication is all about how you benefit the audience," she says. "How are they going to be better off by having you around?"
She believes that too often people rely on arguments about their cost of living, which your employer likely won’t care about, especially at a larger company. Another weak argument is that you work hard and are loyal.
"You're already getting paid for that," she says.
This means you have to make the case that you’re worth more money from the perspective of your employer. So you need to walk into the room ready to make that case in dollars and cents, numbers and figures.
Don’t Be the First Person to Throw Out a Number
Tervooren believes this is one of the primary rules of communication. In fact, at his first "real" job after college, he got a salary much higher than anything he anticipated. He credits this to his habit, gleaned from his father, of never being the first person to throw out a number in negotiations.
You want your employer to set the first number, because their idea of what your worth might be well above what you think you’re worth. Throw out a number that's too low and you're not going to be able to bargain upward. On the other hand, if you throw out a number that's way too high, you might get a chuckle and a "no," but you haven't lost out on anything.
Connect the Dots
Ungar is a big believer that it's your responsibility to connect all the dots.
"You need to be able to talk about what working hard is doing for your employer," she says.
Even throwing out a lot of facts and figures about your performance might not do that. "It's not my job to connect the dots -- it's your job to connect them for me," Ungar says. "You need to do it from the audience's perspective: what's the benefit of increased compensation for them?"
All too often, people skip over this crucial step, but it's going to make all the difference.
Know What You’re Willing to Compromise On
As a kid, Tervooren was taught never to leave anything laying on the table. In terms of negotiating your salary, this means not to keep picking at an offer once it gives you all or most of what you want. However, he’s also sympathetic to the idea that you should work as hard as you can to get exactly what you want out of any negotiation. "Neither of these approaches is better," he says, "it's up to you to decide what works best."
Ungar, however, points out that this is really about knowing what you’re willing to compromise on. "You have to know what you're willing to give up if you can’t get exactly what you want," she says. In the case of negotiating a salary, another form of compensation, such as more vacation time, stock options or flexibility in your schedule might offset the extra money.
Ungar has an easy litmus test for evaluating your compensation: "Look at your goals and say, 'Can I live with this?'"
The bottom line? "People need to be able to correctly identify their value, and they need to communicate it in a way so people understand," Ungar says.
--Written by Nicholas Pell for MainStreet