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How to negotiate a salary increase

Marc Baloch, Director of the Financial Services Practice APAC

Marc Baloch, Director of the Financial Services Practice APAC, explores the best approach to having one of the most dreaded workplace discussions.

They say "money can't buy happiness", but ensuring people are paid what they rightly deserve is key to ensuring a loyal and motivated workforce.

Salary is part retention strategy, part motivation, part reward, but always business justified. Below are 6 steps to proactive salary negotiations:

Be fully prepared for the discussion

Arm yourself with all your recent achievements to demonstrate value. Job descriptions or even internal/external client praise can be used as a reference point to demonstrate delivery above and beyond the call of duty. Remember - to perform well is expected, to exceed gives you the ammunition for more.

Choose the right time for your discussion - focus on professional development

The best time to broach a salary increase is during an appraisal or any formal feedback session. Always plan to have this discussion after a positive performance.

Should you need to approach the topic of your salary at another time, propose a meeting to discuss your professional development.

Salary is just one part of the equation, and by focusing on your development within the business you demonstrate strategic and long-term thinking about your career. Therefore, if approached professionally and politely, salary negotiations can demonstrate maturity and management skills. It also signals you understand your value for the firm.

Naturally, another good time to raise this topic is when you have delivered fantastic work and exceeded targets - this provides you with added negotiation power and gives you further leverage.

Know your worth

It is always a positive thing to know how much you are worth at work. Benchmarking surveys are available online, and it is useful to be known to headhunters or talent development consultants who can offer an objective viewpoint.

Be mindful of the risks

In terms of timing, be mindful of other issues that may be happening in the business. Remember that your issue is unlikely to be a top priority for others.

You may also have placed a higher value on your worth than your manager. This can result in a very tricky situation, hence it is imperative that you are fully prepared and informed before the discussions start, so that you ask for a realistic raise.

Be realistic in your negotiations

Be strategic with your demands - don't be too pushy and be realistic about what is achievable. If you are viewed as a high value performer, typical internal pay rises should be between 10-20%. More than this is unusual and will likely only be achieved when moving jobs. Put yourself in your manager's shoes and look at your case from their perspective. Can the business afford to pay you what you plan to ask for? You should discuss your expectations in a clear and honest manner - stating exact amounts to avoid misinterpretation.

Threats and personal agendas can be very harmful and are not advised i.e. "If I do not get x I will leave" or "Person x at firm y gets this much - I should get the same, if not I will leave". Remember, there should always be a business reason for negotiation i.e. you have produced an additional x% of income, therefore you anticipate an additional x% in compensation. Alternatively, you may have taken on an additional area of responsibility and shown results by either growing the business or reducing costs.

Dealing with a salary increase that is below expectations (or less than other colleagues)

If you are feeling disgruntled it is always better to raise the issue and air grievances with your manager, rather than fester in the office with fellow colleagues. A single negative attitude can impact badly on the entire work environment. Always remember the age-old adage - if you don't ask, you don't get.

Good luck with your negotiations!

For more 'How to' advice don't forget to re-visit this blog. If you have any suggestions for a future 'How to' piece please get in touch with us sophie.gray@harveynash.hk.