How to Negotiate for What You Want at Work

Managed by Q
October 16, 2019

Asking your boss for a promotion, raise, or budget to fund your professional growth can be scary—it’s hard to gauge what kind of reaction you will get, even if you’re confident that what you’re asking for makes sense and is deserved. 

But the unknown shouldn’t stop you from trying to advance in your career. We’ve teamed up with The Newsette and tapped their readers for their most pressing, real career-related questions.

How should I ask my boss for a promotion?

The key to asking for a promotion is preparation. Gather general information about your company and then specific information about yourself and your role to ensure you show up with confidence and knowledge.

Start by looking into your company’s policies and procedures for career growth. How do people typically get promoted in your company? Make sure you have someone walk you through the steps if you’re not completely sure. 

A common talking point from management during promotion negotiation centers around industry standards—be proactive and research industry standards and data on the average salary for your position, in your city, with your years of experience. If you’re asking for a raise above the average or a title promotion typical for someone with more years of experience, don’t fret. Those numbers are a benchmark, not a rule.

If possible, get as much info as you can on your company and/or team’s budget. Take a look at the hiring projections and growth targets of the upcoming quarter/year. Timing could work in your favor if you know that there’s a projected hiring boom or sales uptick. On the other hand, if you see that growth and profit projections look tight, you’ll be prepared in knowing that your promotion may not work at the present moment.

Next, gather positive evidence about yourself, your work, and your role. What are your bargaining chips? Are you the only person on the team doing this job? Are you the only person on your team period? How has your role changed since you started? What projects and initiatives have you started and/or completed? Collect any feedback you’ve been given in the past and have it ready to share.

The final best practice in asking your boss for a promotion is leveraging communication tactics. Proactively ask in-person if you can schedule a time to talk about your career growth. Include an agenda in the calendar invite that includes the purpose of your meeting. It could look something like this:

  • Quick check-in: What’s on your mind at the moment?
  • Purpose: The purpose of this meeting is to talk about my current position and explore the options for a promotion.
  • Role reflection: An overview of my accomplishments in the past 3 quarters and feedback collected from peers.
  • Question and reaction round
  • Proposal discussion

Sharing the agenda beforehand will set expectations for your manager, show that you’re serious and ready for a promotion discussion, and help you stay on track during the meeting.

What’s a good way to ask for a raise from someone who has denied it multiple times in the past?

If you’ve been denied multiple times for a raise you believe you deserved, the best thing you can do is collect and organize as much concrete data and feedback from your peers about your job performance as possible. Having evidence to support your request is an absolute must.

Do a self-reflection and think back on the feedback you’ve received. Here are a list of questions to ask yourself. Make sure you actually write down your answers. Be as specific as possible! This will help you communicate effectively when you’re asking for a raise:

  • Was there a specific piece of feedback you were given that led you to change/better your behavior/performance? 
  • How have you grown and reached your goals? 
  • How have your accountabilities changed? 
  • What work have you taken on or grown since you started in your current position? 
  • What are your team goals and how have you performed against them?
  • What are your company’s core values and how have you performed against them?
  • When is the last time your boss/manager checked in about your career development? Gave you feedback?

Lay out the differences from this moment versus the past times when you asked for a raise—what has changed? Be sure to explain to your manager why this moment is different from the past.

The last thing you can do is come up with a personal game plan regardless of what decision your boss makes. Don’t dwell on this too much, but think about what your response will be if you’re denied again. What will your response be if you’re asked to wait a while for a decision? By acknowledging and planning for these scenarios, you can put some scary what-ifs out of your mind and focus on delivering your perfect pitch.

How can I ask my boss for training?

Framed correctly, asking your boss for professional training should be an easy conversation—good managers should want their employees to be excited about learning and professional growth!

Do the heavy lifting yourself—research what training you want and create a list or spreadsheet of the different options available. Even if you have a specific program or class in mind, providing your boss with a list of alternatives you passed over and why will show you were thoughtful in your proposal. If the class comes highly recommended from a colleague (or from reviews), cite them to your boss as well. This will further help in proving the legitimacy of the class.

To really put power behind your idea, match the training or class to a specific personal or team goal. If you want to learn more about budgeting, for example, you can point to the team’s updated spending limitations and make the case for gaining knowledge that will impact your role or team in a specific way.

Regardless of the reason, asking your boss or manager for something that will benefit your career and learning goals is always a good idea. Just make sure you’ve done your homework and show up prepared, confident, and with an open mind. 

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