Great managers valiantly support their employees. They act as protective human shields, defending their employees from meddlesome co-workers, productive-sapping meetings, and a slew of other organizational impediments. They also advocate for employees, helping employees achieve their full potential. This often involves negotiating and securing pay raises on their behalf.
While asking for a raise can be among the most daunting experiences in the workplace, the most effective managers know that the conversation is fundamental to helping their employees advance professionally and reach their full potential. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
1. Lay out the facts
American politician and diplomat Howard Baker once remarked, “The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.”
In order to successfully secure a raise on behalf of their employees, managers must be able to articulate the value of employees’ contributions. It’s prudent for managers to make a list of all the contributions that employees have made over the past months and years. Include specific accomplishments and, when applicable, quantify the value of the contributions in monetary terms. Don’t merely delineate that Joe developed a new lead prioritization system. Instead, outline that Joe developed a new lead prioritization system that improved lead qualification rates by 30% and resulted in $125,000 in new revenue. The stronger the data you amass and put forth, the more effective you’ll be at developing a cogent argument for a pay raise.
2. Timing is everything
Many managers wait to submit pay raise recommendations on behalf of their employees until annual reviews. This approach is ill-advisable. It’s best to embark on the conversation early. Writer and former human resources professional, Suzanne Lucas, explains, "Start talking to your boss about getting a raise three to four months in advance…That's when they decide the budget.”
Even the time of day and week can make a difference in terms of successfully securing a pay raise on behalf of employees. A study published in Psychology Today found that bosses tend to become more agreeable as the workweek unfolds and may be more receptive to pay raise discussions, negotiations, and comprises at the end of the week. In an article published in Forbes, psychologist Shannon Kolakowski advises asking for a raise in the morning hours on account of the fact that bosses tend to be “more moral” as compared to later in the day (a phenomenon known as the “morning morality effect”).
3. Propose a range
Managers who are intent on obtaining a pay raise for their employees must devote time to quantifying how much of a pay increase is deserved. It’s critical that the salary requested be realistic and commensurate with employees' skills and accomplishments. Factor in experience levels, responsibilities, awards, soft skills, and comparative industry rates. It also tends to be effective to propose a range. A study spearheaded by researchers at Columbia University found that offering a salary range tends to lead to better results, as compared to offering a single number. Malia Mason, one of the researchers, explains how to structure the range: “The lowest number is the point offer you are aiming for, and the high number is more ambitious.” If, for example, you’ve decided that your employees deserve a $100,000 annual salary, set the range at $100,000-$120,000 (not $90,000-$110,000). The researchers explain that offering a range makes you appear more cooperative and flexible, in turn rendering it more difficult for decision makers to counter offers.
Salary negotiations are challenging and rife with uncertainty and awkwardness. Top performing managers are well-prepared for the conversation and understand how and when to engage in discussions. An executive coach can help you develop the skills and tactics required to manage your emotions and cogently build an argument for pay raises.
When it comes to salary negotiations, never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that individuals who consumed caffeine prior to negotiations were more likely to stick to their guns during negotiations and resist counter-persuasion attempts. As Jackie Chan once said, coffee is a language in itself.
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner