If you want your salary to increase, it is far from sufficient to spring tough arguments at the actual salary negotiation. You have to earn a salary increase all year round, and if you remember to draw your manager’s attention to your achievements on a regular basis you will put yourself in a better position for a healthy slice of the salary cake when it is shared out. Just remember to do it elegantly and in moderation. We have listed some important focal points below:
When you are in the actual negotiation meeting and need to present your arguments for a pay rise, you will maybe only mention your most recent successes – purely because you have forgotten what you did ten to twelve months ago. So, it’s a good idea to note down your best performances on a regular basis. You may have played an important role in completing a major project, helped a colleague through a difficult period or given a particularly popular presentation. Write it down so that you remember it.
We’re not suggesting you memorise negotiation tactics every morning in the shower, but during the year up to the salary negotiation, you should think strategically about how to draw your manager’s attention to your achievements and dedication. Point out your successful projects regularly, without being too pushy. If other parts of the company have benefited from your work, mention this too. But remember to do this in moderation. No-one wants employees who are constantly pulling on their sleeves to be noticed for the tiniest contribution they have made.
You must have the courage to share your successes with your manager, but do this elegantly and constructively. Useful information may have been gained from your achievements, which could be shared. And because the information is useful for the entire department you can talk about it without seeming to show off. Provided that you do not constantly advertise everything you do, your manager will probably be pleased to know that projects are being handled well. If you do not have much contact with your manager, it may be more difficult to promote yourself. But if that is the case, it is even more relevant for you to draw attention to yourself and your achievements – and, remember, it may pay off.
You should never use a colleague’s salary level as an argument at your own salary negotiation. This is not a relevant argument for your own salary increase. You should however remember that it is alright to talk to your colleagues about salary. It is a myth that wages and salaries are confidential. In Denmark, salary is a very private matter and 40% of Danes keep their cards close to their chest when talking about salary at work. But when you are familiar with your colleagues’ salaries, you have a better idea of a reasonable salary for you. So, don’t forget to talk numbers with your colleagues.
Find out what your manager considers important. It may be important to the department to sort out certain processes or optimise work procedures. Once you have a specific idea of what your manager wants, you will be better equipped to explain how you can play a significant part in the process. Managers are rarely fully aware of what the employees do on a daily basis. They are too busy for that. It is therefore up to you to show him or her how you contribute and you should focus on the things of importance to your manager. Point out the results you have achieved that support the department’s – and your manager’s – goals.
If your workplace has a collective agreement and a trade union representative, this person may attend the negotiation on your behalf. However, even if this is the case, you should still make sure that your manager is aware of your efforts and achievements. Don’t forget to brief your union rep before the meeting and list the achievements and arguments you want him or her to prioritise to improve your negotiating positioning.
It is a good idea to send your manager a structured mail before the negotiation and before he or she shares out the payroll. This will ensure that your manager is well prepared for the meeting and for your demands. If your manager has a sum of money to distribute, and there is not a lot to negotiate about, you will be in a better position if you have submitted your request in advance. Specify the amount you wish to achieve from the salary negotiation. The amount will then be in the manager’s mind and this could be an advantage. You should also check whether your salary is comparable with what is usually given in your field.
If you are not able to achieve your salary demand and you are disappointed – maybe even angry – don’t threaten to resign unless you are really prepared to walk away. You should instead ask whether you could renegotiate in a few months or ask what you specifically need to do to ensure a pay rise next time. You can then draw up targets together. If you meet these targets during the year, you have something specific to discuss with your manager at the next negotiation and very strong arguments for an increase in salary.