Claim your value

PUBLISHED ON Friday, 30 July 2021

It’s that time of year: performance review season… which comes along with the opportunity to ask for a salary increase and potentially a bonus. It feels like this is the most waited turn of the year ever, at least in our lifetimes and beyond the turn of the century. COVID has taken us all by surprise and somehow the surprise does not end… It has been a year that has impacted many of us in unexpected ways, both positively and negatively. One thing is for sure, we have to focus on those things in which we can have some impact and your year-end review and salary conversations are one of those things. There is no reason not to ask for your fair share, especially if your industry or company hasn’t taken a big hit.

End of year is the perfect time to take the opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on how much progress we have made in our jobs and to consider the value we have added throughout the year. And please don’t start with excuses… oh but this year was not this and that. Figure out first what were the good things that happened at work this year. Once those are clear, you can have the conversation with your boss and claim your value.

We know that this is not always an easy task, but if you prepare your conversation and practice, you will definitely increase your likelihood of achieving your goals. It should never be a spontaneous conversation. With this in mind, I have put together for you some of the best tips for getting the pay raise you deserve and claim your worth!

And by the way, if your company does not have a formal year-end review process, don’t hesitate to ask for one. Make sure you at least get time with your boss to get some feedback. I believe feedback is one of the most precious gifts we can get. While we all love positive feedback, knowing our areas for improvement is what helps us identify our blind spots and get better at them. It is only through growth and challenge that we get to the next level, so let’s embrace constructive feedback!

To prepare your end of year review and salary discussion, start here:

1. Mindset, mindset, mindset

Money is a hard thing to talk about for most of us. For many of us, money is about self-worth. The thought of having a money conversation can feel very uncomfortable, maybe because of the way we were raised to think about money or what we heard at home. In many cultures, women were not raised to ask for what they deserve, but rather to just take what they are given. However, ensuring you have an empowering mindset before the money conversation takes place is really critical for success.

The first thing to get clear on is that it is completely fine to ask for a raise and have the conversation. It may take some courage and pushing your limits. But how can you know what you can get, if you don’t ask for it?  The second thing is to get clear on why you are doing this. Having a BIG WHY is the main driver to actually propel us to get anything done. Get clear on what it is that you want to get this raise for: what could the impact be for those around you? Is it more savings and some luxuries for yourself or perhaps a fun vacation with those you love? Is it retirement or more money for your first home? And if you are having trouble finding a goal, resort to the fact that if you do push for more you will help close the pay gap women face all over the world every day. In fact, if us women don’t ask for what we deserve, how will we ever get it!

Once you have a strong mindset going into this, you have to start with the preparation.

2. Be clear about the value you deliver to the company 

Knowing the value you have added this year, and defining how important you are for the company are key to preparing the arguments that will guide your conversation with your boss. You know you are worthy of a salary increase, but how can you prove it to your boss?

The first step is to go back to your list of annual goals. Take a look at what you defined with your boss as your goals for the year. If you don’t have this, make sure you also push for agreeing on annual goals next year and adjust them if needed as the year goes on. Identify clearly where you delivered, where you over-delivered and if you didn’t meet a goal, what were the reasons.

If possible, we recommend to represent your arguments in monetary factors. How much money have you saved the company this year? What was the sales impact that you contributed? Did you replace a co-worker while he or she was on vacation?

Then identify the softer contributions of the year… how did you contribute to the team spirit, did you go above and beyond, did you do anything out of your area of responsibility? Did you train yourself on new skills that resulted in doing something bigger and better? What about customer feedback? Is there anything you can name directly tied to a job well done? All these different data points matter during the conversation. Recognize your value, make sure you feel worthy and put it on the table during the discussion. Make sure to bring structured notes to the conversation, so that in case your memory fails you, you have something to refer to.

3. Be clear about how much money you want to ask for

Do your research. Are you being paid fairly at the moment? Do you know what others in your team in similar roles and positions are making? Do you know what is the market salary for a role and position similar to yours? How hard is it for your employer to find someone else with your skill set? Resort to online resources, ask peers, mentors, and both men and women.

Once you know this, ask yourself the question: What do I want to earn and believe I deserve this year? Understand how much more you need for expenses or be clear about how a salary increase affects your financial goals. Does your salary allow you to achieve them sooner? If you know where you are going, it is time to evaluate how much more you want to earn next year, so that you can keep working towards your goals! Remember YOUR BIG WHY from step 1!

Remember to ask for a little more than you actually want to get. Usually there will be a negotiation process and your boss will likely tell you she or he cannot pay what you asked for. This is why it is important to ask for more, so that after some back and forth, you likely end up reaching an agreement that will meet everyone’s expectations as closely as possible.

4. You are not begging

It is about your work and how it has changed over the last few months, or years. It is your responsibility to have this conversation with your boss and to show him or her that you deserve a raise. Going back to mindset: sometimes women think they don’t deserve it and feel like they are begging for it. It is important to look at this situation from another perspective: you work for someone who needs your service and your boss remunerates you with money for your time, effort and strong results. It is a deal for both sides. And remember, if you get “no” as an answer, you should identify what will get you in a stronger position so you can ask again. Ask what it will take to get the promotion or salary increase next year.

 You should also have other types of requests handy. For example, if a salary increase is difficult this year, how else can you be compensated for a job well done? You can also negotiate for extra benefits, equity or stock options, flexibility in your work hours, holidays, an update to your job title, a training budget or mentoring from someone within the company you respect, equity or stock options, or anything else that is important to you.

5. Always practice a conversation you will have for the first time.

Never have this conversation spontaneously. Schedule a meeting with your boss in advance and make sure they know what you want to talk about, so that also they know what to prepare for. Develop confidence in your arguments by practicing with a good friend, your roommate, your mentor or someone who is ready to listen and give feedback. It is  critical to practice these kinds of conversations, especially if it is your first time. The key to success is good, clean preparation and attitude! Repetition is the mother of skill! You never know what you can get if you don’t ask. So end this year by having your salary increase conversation. Know that having the conversation this year will increase

the likelihood of future conversations ending up in success, simply because you will get better at it every time.

Remember that negotiation is for mutual gain. Take this as an opportunity to practice that. The company has benefited from all your work this year and the better a job you do, the more they will see the value you deliver. The whole idea is to create a virtuous circle of growing benefits in all directions. Understanding which results matter more to your boss, which results matter more to you, and where they overlap is entirely possible with good communication.

Finally, feel proud of yourself for taking this step! Good luck!

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