Do your homebook before entering salary negotiations

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews,Salary Negotiating,Workplace Communication

Q. During a performance review, my boss asked me what salary increase would “keep me happy.” I responded, “What am I worth to the company?” I thought that was a smart move, but I was wrong. My boss didn’t really answer the question. The next week he told me what my raise would be in a voice-mail message (he was out of town). I was disappointed.

When he finally returned to the office, a new set of crises set in and I didn’t want to bring up my pay. So I ended up taking the paltry raise and even thanking my boss. We scheduled another meeting in six months. What have I done!?

A. Bosses dread having to talk money with their employees. That’s why leaving a voice-mail message and then making themselves unavailable for follow-up negotiation is all too common. In any case, you should prepare a salary comparison chart that shows how your pay holds up alongside similar positions at other companies. Gather this data by calling a sampling of human resources departments and asking for the salary ranges of positions such as yours. (Some HR consulting firms and trade publications may have already done such salary surveys, so check with them first.)

By doing a little research, you can present your boss with some hard numbers to justify your request.

While pay matters a lot to you, it’s probably an annoyance to your boss. So limit the number of times you bring up the topic. Mention it once when you submit your salary comparison sheet, and set a time to discuss your findings. Don’t nag or repeatedly make what you deem as harmless jibes about your low pay.

Finally, I hope you’ve learned a lesson about salary negotiations: Do your homework before you talk money. Never leave it entirely up to your boss to decide your worth. Your question would have worked better if you had listened to your boss’s response and then answered the question yourself with some hard evidence to support your pay request.

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