The other day I wrote about how Negotiations are Expected for most job hires that require previous work experience. I discovered this is a hot topic as many readers shared their regrets about not negotiating when they had the opportunity. An over-riding theme to the stories was a desire for information on how to negotiate better. There are multi-week executive education classes that teach one to negotiate, so to assume I can craft a blog post that will cover all the intricacies of negotiations is unrealistic. However, I will share some nuggets of advice that I have learned over the years and I hope readers will share additional tips at the end of this piece.
What is The Desired Outcome
Before I go into a negotiation, I envision my desired outcome of the process. Am I looking for a certain salary number, access to higher-ups, additional days off, larger budget, more staff, etc? I must have a clear understanding of what I hope to achieve at the end of the discussions in order to craft a strategy of how to approach. Without a destination in mind, how can I know where I am going?
Information is Golden
Never slip into the petulant child syndrome of negotiations: I want, I deserve, I am due, The firm owes me… These phrases do two things: 1) places the other person on the defensive and 2) puts the focus of the discussion completely on what you feel is owed to you. Instead, enter the conversation with your statements based on information and data. Prove that your salary is not comparable to peers; demonstrate how an increase in your staffing will result in better overall results for the company; define what outcomes will be possible with additional access to higher-ups.
If you negotiate from a position of information, the other side has a more difficult time shooting down your suggestions because your asks are grounded with data and not opinions. Additionally, by focusing on facts you remove some of the emotions of what is usually an emotionally charged, personal process.
We, Not Me
When negotiating, keep the needs and desires of the other side in mind. If you focus only on what you want/need/desire – you risk portraying yourself selfish and often receive fewer of your asks than if you connect your requests to the greater good.
Try communicating how your desired outcome from the negotiations will solve a current problem the employer is experiencing. By hiring additional staff will this eliminate the poor response time to clients? Would an increase in budget afford your department to upgrade your technology in order to become more efficient, experience fewer down times, and protect against hacking? Keep the needs of the whole in mind when making your individual pitch.
This is my preference, I like to present options. I avoid making negotiations a “My Way or the Highway” interaction. For example, an individual asked for $5000 more to his salary offer as that would bring the offer in line with other positions he was considering or would they consider setting some agreed upon metrics that at his year-end review (if the metrics were met) would result in a 10% salary bump. Option A is grounded in fact – the individual had examples of comparable jobs that paid $5000 more. Option B was an alternative where the pressure to perform was on him – no immediate investment increase on the employer part. Presenting options in your discussions communicates you are open to some give-and-take.
The employer offered him Option A but was intrigued by Option B. This could be a future negotiating tactic for this individual.
You Gotta Know When to Hold’Em…
Kenny Rogers may have said it best in his ballad, The Gambler, “…know when to walk away…” This final nugget of advice is the key to my negotiations. I need to know when I am willing to walk away from an opportunity or willing to fold and take what the other side if offering. In a recent negotiation, I knew the salary was not feasible and I made a counter and was honest about the desired salary number and why. I was willing to walk away from the offer and thus “played my best hand” with the employer. In the end, after I went after a number with a hard-line drawn and the employer could not meet that number, I needed to walk away.
The other end of the spectrum occurred when a colleague of mine knew he was going to accept a job no matter the offer (he knew the proposed salary range, understood the role, office, etc.). He negotiated a bit but did not go after anything too aggressively because he knew he was going to say yes no matter the outcome.
How hard you negotiate depends upon your willingness to walk away.
As you may have picked up, I use the term ‘discussion’ when referring to negotiations. Discussions are civil, involve more than one party, and imply there are ideas and comments being shared by multiple individuals – negotiations should not be a one-sided affair. Entering into a discussion requires you maintaining an open mind and you are best served by keeping the conversation positive. Remember, you are likely to be working with these people and for this organization in the very near future – don’t do anything that causes you to burn bridges or creates a hostile working environment for yourself.
I welcome others to share their best advice for negotiating – and this discussion is not just about salary. What approach have you used? What has worked/not worked for you in the past? Thank you in advance for sharing.