Negotiating a Pay Increase at Your Job: How Do You Respond to a Low-Ball Offer?

By · Monday, September 30th, 2013

Many of you feel and fear that your boss will, at best, offer a token or substandard raise.  The fear comes in not knowing how to handle that situation and not knowing the art of negotiating it higher…..especially much higher.

Like so many things in life, we aren’t experienced enough to feel comfortable with the finesse required in negotiating.  Instead we allow either fear or brashness to take control.  Plus there is the perception that your boss holds all the cards, since he employs you and writes the checks.  That negative thinking is how you got into a low paying situation to begin with.

You have power!  You have lots of power, if you are a value added employee like we addressed in earlier posts.  Great workers and contributors are hard to find.  Your boss may not act as if they are hard to find, but they are.  So if you are part of the top 20% at what you do, then you are locked and loaded with power to negotiate.

That feeling of insecurity or fear is normal.  Naturally you don’t want your ego bruised or be forced to get a new job.  What you really lack is a coach or mentor who can handhold you through the process.   Let’s be clear, it is not a cookie cutter process that you can simply memorize.  The approach is dynamic and changes as the verbal exchange proceeds between you and your boss.   It changes with each boss, each company style and one’s own personality.

Believe me; your boss is used to getting his/her own way with salaries.  However, when you go in for a raise and actually know how to respond proactively then your boss’s position is weakened.  Plus, your boss does not have a coach, but now you do.  He/she only has the implied power of his/her position, which is as a job provider.  That job provider status is matched by your accomplishments as a problem solver.  You solve problems and your boss pays for your positive results.  That is a fair exchange.  Money for problems solved.  There is almost always someone else who will pay well for the problems that you solve.  So your boss does not have all the power that you may have previously given him or her.

When handled well by you, your boss will not feel superior to you.  In fact, a talented employee actually has at least as much power as the boss….and often more.  Yes more. Again, it depends on the perceived need in the mind of the employer for the employee’s services.   Your job is to increase the perceived need in the mind and heart of your boss.

Caveat, everyone has a point of no return, but we aren’t even dealing with that in our discussions. Part of our process together is to raise the level of your perceived worth in the eyes of your boss.  This is not hard to do.  We’ll address how to do that when you’re ready to go.

What do you say or do when your boss offers an embarrassing low raise? Share your story below:

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