1. What tips do you have for negotiating a raise?
If you believe you deserve a raise, then you also believe you are underpaid. You are not getting paid fairly for the value you are bringing to your company. In this situation, it’s really important to be prepared. Here are some basic tips:
- Preparation Is Everything: Get the lay of the land. Do your research. Find out your market value by asking your co-workers, speaking to headhunters, and checking out the Internet. If need be, shop yourself to see what another firm would pay to hire you away. Know your alternatives before beginning negotiations.
- Let the Games Begin: If you wait until the compensation season (typically year end) to negotiate your compensation then you’ve already lost. The best tactic is to do it early and often but ideally when you’ve just demonstrated real value to your company. Examples include after a successful sale, project completion, product launch, or PR campaign. Tell your boss your expectations and ask them to make sure you get paid well so you can focus on doing your best work.
- Break Glass: If all else fails and you don’t get the raise you want, prepare to walk. If they aren’t going to pay you fairly after making your case, don’t expect them to change. Most companies pay you the least amount of money to prevent you from walking. Call their bluff.
2. I’ve heard stories where co-workers gather salary information and use it to their advantage. How would you suggest I go about gaining this information?
Your co-workers are simply getting the answers to the key question: What are you worth? Or more importantly, what are your bosses willing to pay you? They recognize that one should never go into comp discussions without plenty of support. You need to do the same. Otherwise, you’re flying blind when negotiating your salary and other compensation.
But how do you do that?
Start with your friends and colleagues at your own company. Compensation is the juiciest of juicy information at companies and we would all prefer to know it rather than not. So ask around and become an information broker. I’m sure you will find many willing participants particularly if you make a deal. “You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine.” Reciprocity is the name of the game. I call it tapping the whisper wire.
Another source is to call headhunters. If you have strong credentials, search firms will want to put you in their database. They will want to understand your qualifications and compensation expectations. In return, they will be very open as to your market value in the hope that you might one day consider leaving and satisfying one of their search assignments.
Finally, seek out colleagues and contacts outside your company but in the same industry. In many respects, unlike your co-workers, you aren’t a direct threat to usurping them for that top job so you may find these outsiders even more open about swapping sacred compensation secrets.
3. What’s the best way to set my long-term goals and targets with my boss?
Goal and target setting with your boss is critical to ensure alignment on your career and your aspirations. I have found the best way to do this is at review time. Given you only have a finite amount of time for reviews, I would always ask my boss for my negatives. None of my positives. After all, I already know how great I am!
I’d focus on those specific areas that my boss feels are impeding my progress up the corporate ladder and getting the compensation I richly deserve. I’d ask for prescriptive advice on how to overcome these obstacles. Then I would revisit my progress with my boss (and myself) periodically so that by year end I’d know if I was tracking or not.
Finally, when achieving targets set with your boss, remember the old adage: underpromise and overdeliver. This is the best way to deliver happiness to your boss and ultimately your pocketbook.
About the Author
Dave is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur who founded several companies in entertainment, investments, and technology, and worked on Wall Street for almost 25 years.
He started his career by joining a fledgling investment bank, Jefferies, when it had less than 200 employees. Today, Jefferies is a multi-billion dollar diversified public company (NYSE:JEF). He rose from the entry level position of Analyst to Group Head of Internet and Digital Media and was one of the youngest Managing Directors in firm history. As one of the only managing directors of color in the firm, he successfully broke through the Bamboo Ceiling. He not only worked hard but also played the corporate game.
Hundreds of bankers have worked for Dave during his career. He has mentored many of them who have gone on to some of the best business schools and companies in America. He is eager to share his knowledge with Asian Americans and other disadvantaged groups seeking to maximize their potential and achieve their career goals.