Influence 101 – It’s Not Enough To Ask For A Raise: Understand Who You’re Asking

Kris Dunn Kris Dunn, Making Offers, Negotiation, Payroll, Performance

Raises. Of course you should ask for them. Don’t get caught thinking the market inside your company will take care of you. But with that said, let’s break down a couple of realities:

1. Only good-to-great performers really have leverage to ask for more money. If you’re not in that group, you can throw a legal fastball by somebody for equity, but it’s still likely to fall on deaf ears.

2. 90% of employees think they’re in the top 10% of all performers. Soak on that.

3. Failure to negotiate on offers coming into companies and on annual raises can cost you 500K to a million over the course of your career.

So, if you don’t negotiate for yourself, you could do the same job or have the same performance as a peer and be sitting in an apartment when you’re 70 rather than at the lake/beach. That means you should negotiate. It’s true for everyone, but especially true for women, who are historically undercomped for the same work/experience combinations.  It’s a sea of gray, but there are some things you should grab onto to get your head around asking for more money.

The most important thing you need to know when you negotiate? Who you’re talking to. Here’s a rundown of the people you’ll ask for raises from in your career:

– The Leader of the White Guys Club. OK, it exists. There’s still a segment of society that thinks, unless you’re a white guy (bonus points if they drive a Miata convertible), you shouldn’t be comped at market level.

What this person is thinking when you ask them for a raise: If you’re a white guy, they’re embarrassed you had to ask. If you’re not a white guy, it pisses them off a bit.

How to get what you’re looking for: The good news is most white guys have seen some of their peers go down for being bigots, so calmly letting them know that the apples-to-apples comparisons aren’t equal is enough for them to have the emotion you want them to have—FEAR.

(BIG NOTE TO THE PEOPLE – This is not your normal white guy.  This is the leader of the club that thinks – wait for it – white guys are special.)

– The Self Proclaimed Talent Broker. This person exists as both male and female. They believe that the market will naturally take care of money issues, and they’ll also tell you it’s not necessary to threaten to do anything in order for the invisible hand of your company to correct the situation. You just have to be patient. This is Microsoft’s Nadella, by the way.

What this person is thinking when you ask them for a raise: “Hey dude(ette), just chill, it’s all going to work out.”

How to get what you’re looking for: Play the card of, unless you get what you need, you’ll likely leave, and that’s not going to help their self- proclaimed Talent Broker status. Then refer them to a couple of articles from INC or Fast Company mags that help your case. That’s the language they speak.

– The Scared Bureaucrat. Let’s be real. You’re going to ask this person for more, and they’re going to tell you what the process says about it inside your company. They don’t want to make a move outside the bounds of what those crazy, at times bitchy, HR pros have to say about it.

What this person is thinking when you ask them for a raise: Damn. I wish I had the power to help. I wish I had a heart—no, a soul. Let me tell them about our pay-for-performance strategy.

How to get what you’re looking for: Drop your issue on them, then proceed to HR with what you think you know and a good case for why giving you a raise makes business sense.

– The Real Deal. At last, a regular human. This manager gets it and understands you probably got screwed when you came in, or at least it looks that way now. He wants to help and really doesn’t have any bias other than what’s naturally buried by his kidneys.

What this person is thinking when you ask them for a raise: How do I get this done? She’s a performer and this makes sense.

How to get what you’re looking for: Make your case and then give a rational strategy—can the gap be closed over a 1-year period? Do you need it all right now? The real deal will appreciate the flexibility and ultimately want to help you more as result.

Of course you should ask for more money. Be a good-to-great performer first, then think about your audience. Knowing who you are talking to and how to influence them is the key to whether you get the extra cash or not.