Thursday, May 15, 2008
Lose control. “About a year ago [at another company] a person walked into my office for a review, closed the door and exploded,” says David Valentine, global sales director at the business psychologists SHL. “He demanded a minimum of 25 per cent because at a leaving party everyone got drunk and told him what they earned.” Valentine was able to calm him down - without granting the raise - but having a hissy fit will not endear you to your manager.
Demand equality. This is a tricky one. Sometimes people are discriminated against on the ground of, say, gender, but most people in professional jobs are rewarded according to their achievements. The angry salesman from the previous example demanded equality but was given short and somewhat humiliating shrift by Valentine: “I advised him that what other people earned was not necesarily a guide to what he should earn [and] that what he got was linked to the value he brought to the company.”
Expect to get something for nothing. “People say, ‘I’m good because I feel I’m good’,” says Torsten Muth, the UK managing director of Experteer, a recruitment company. “I say, ‘well, you’re not, because you can’t tell me what you have achieved’.” But don’t go too far the other way, says Julia Gosling, the business director at Mabox, a marketing agency. She prepared her case meticulously but spent so long presenting it that her boss switched off out of boredom. “I spent 20 minutes talking at her rather than having a conversation,” she says.
And my two favorites:
Do it when drunk. “I was at a social function late in the evening when someone decided that the informality [and some dutch courage] would lead to a better result,” says Duncan Howorth, the managing director of JLT Benefit Solutions. “I said that it was not the appropriate moment and to speak later [but] he didn’t. He’d lost his chance.” Don’t risk putting your manager’s back up; it’s an office conversation only.
Threaten to quit. Unless you are genuinely irreplaceable - which is unlikely - this isn’t going to work. Every person interviewed for this article knew someone who’d been left in a pickle when their bluff was called. Even having another job lined up won’t necessarily help. One of Valentine’s staff resigned when his old company couldn’t match a competitor’s promise to double his salary. Shortly after checking the fine print - no pension or benefits meant the overall package contained no rise at all - he sheepishly asked for his resignation back.