Every day is a salary negotiation
For a modest and maybe even introverted specialist in Denmark with our who-do-you-think-you-are mentality, salary negotiations are not the favourite activity. It can feel almost like a violation having to show off the good results you produce, as they should already be clear to everyone.
”But you have to tell your manager about your results. You have to do it even if you feel like you are stepping over your own boundaries. You have to be proud of your results and be able to talk about “we” when you add value to the organisation through projects, teamwork or steering groups,” says Camilla Fenger Roed who is Department Manager in IDAs group for Collective Agreements and Employee Representatives, adding that for many people the salary negotiation is a hard and boundary-breaking discipline.
According to her, there is only one way – and that is to throw yourself into it. If you are lucky, you will actually end up thinking that salary negotiations are fun.
Negotiations are taking place every day
You have to take the approach that salary negotiations is something that takes place every day. At the moment you walk through the door from a salary discussion, the next one starts.
”Before starting the salary negotiation, you need to rewind the whole year and not only look at the past month. You need to give your manager the full year retrospect and refresh your successes,” says Camilla Fenger Roed.
That is why it is important to continuously send mails to your manager or tell him or her about the good evaluations your project got or the appraisals from the external partners, etc.
Do prep work before the negotiations
Before starting the specific salary negotiation you need to do thorough prep work. You can take a look at the salary statistics for your line of work, and you need to be clear about what you want to emphasize. Has the company grown because of your efforts? Have other parts of the organisation profited from your work? Have you taken on responsibility for larger projects? Have you completed supplementary training giving you new and useful competencies?
“You can also talk to colleagues and friends about what is a realistic level. You need to understand the financials of the company and the strategies for the future. You cannot expect a high salary increase if you just had a large round of layoffs. But you need to know what your performance is worth,” explains Camilla Fenger Roed.
Do not compare yourself to others
It is tempting to claim that Susan who works on the third floor makes 5,000 DKK a month more than you, even though you think that your performance is much better than hers. But is rarely pays off to put down others in order to make a point. Always keep focus on your own performance.
”If you completed supplementary training as a Project Manager, you are now able to work with more complex issues and projects. Maybe you have even become more effective in your deliverances. Keep the ball on your half of the court – managers would never be willing to discuss others’ salary level and performance anyway,” says Camilla Fenger Roed.
In turn you need to remember highlighting that you take a social responsibility on your workplace by e.g. being part of the staff association or having responsibilities as en employee representative.
Ambitious and realistic proposal
It is important to come to the table with an ambitious yet realistic proposal for salary increases. Ambitious meaning that you have some range to work with, and realistic so management can actually meet your proposal.
“If you come with a proposal for 10,000 DKK more a month, your manager will probably look at you as if you were kidding. But at the same time, there is no need to be self-effacing and make it look like you are not confident,” explains Camilla Fenger Roed and continues:
”Of course, you need to have some feeling with where the organisation is. Is it a public organisation with an overall pay pool of 10,000 DKK you need to find a level that your management can actually match. You don’t go for the whole pay pool.”
Expect resistance and be firm
Do not let yourself get knocked out if you get resistance during salary negotiations. If your manager says that your salary reflects your performance, you need to have an answer ready.
“You need to stay calm – no matter what the manager says about your performance and salary level. Ask questions about what he or she means by that. And you can comment on it if the statements do not match what the manager has said earlier,” says Camilla Fenger Roed and continues:
“Be firm and argument for why you think you deserve a salary increase. You will quickly find out if your manager’s rejection is based on the level of your proposal or if you have no chance at all.”
If a pay raise is out of the question, then think in alternatives such as vacation, phone, parking spot, newspapers, supplementary training or something else as a supplement to your salary.
Listen and find common ground
The trick is to listen to what your manager says during the negotiation. That way, you can sense if there is any common ground.
“Where are the openings? Ask for clarifications if there is something you do not fully understand. Ask away and find out if you are actually on the same page,” says Camilla Fenger Roed while emphasizing that the most important thing is to keep calm and be diplomatic before, during and after the salary negotiation.
Be constructive, give and take
No matter how disappointed you are about the results of the salary discussion you need to keep cool and be constructive. No foul language or folded arms.
”Think about what you say – you need to look your negotiation partner in the eyes outside of the meeting room so stay on your own half of the court and talk from your own doings. Don’t tell your manager that he or she does not know what he or she is talking about,” says Camilla Fenger Roed.
You have to accept the fact that you will not be getting a raise, but you should then ask how you would be considered for a raise next time. What do you need to do more or less of?
“A negotiation is a give and take situation. And it makes a difference if both parties feel that they have won. The most important thing though, is that the salary discussion is good and with a fair outcome for both parties,” says Camilla Fenger Roed. It is all about having confidence in your counterpart.