Whether you’re negotiating a job offer, performance review, merit increase or job responsibilities, the basics of negotiations are the same: Setting expectations and criteria for success before-the-fact. Here are some “what”, “how” and “why” guidelines:
The biggest problem that causes the greatest conflict in negotiations is the differences in expectations. If your expectations are too high and reality is too low, it sets up a confrontation that is difficult to untangle. The only way to mitigate the issue is to mutually establish a manageable bandwidth of expectations. This step is best done beforehand, when the “contract” or conditions for success are defined well ahead, and not after-the-fact. Examples:
- If you expect an $80,000 offer but only got $50,000, the defined pay level was never set
- If your performance appraisal was “average” and you thought it should have been “extraordinary”, the different levels of results were never defined
- If you’re “promoted” and the job title and responsibilities are less than you expected, then the job was never clear to you and the promotion was only in your mind
One of the best ways to balance expectations with reality is to ask some key questions:
- What are the primary issues that need to be resolved in the short term (6 months), and what are the expectations for resolution?
- What are the longer-term results and priorities expected of me in this job (12 months)?
- What are the impediments that need to be reduced / eliminated and who is responsible?
- What kind of report or feedback is required? To whom? When? Resources? Staff?
- Are there different levels of success that will impact my performance levels?
- What is the range and midpoint of compensation to the position that I am applying?
Once you determine that your expectations are higher than reality, here are some negotiation points your can suggest, to bring a higher offer or accelerated in time?
- Can I have a performance review in 6 rather than 12 months, with a merit increase?
- How many development programs are available to me, to expand my experiences?
- Can I pursue additional responsibilities to advance to a higher-level job sooner?
- Can I be assigned to a task group or committee outside of current job responsibilities?
- Will I have a mentor available to accelerate my learning curve and performance?
- Can I spend a few hours a week auditing another function to expand my experiences?
- Will I have semi-monthly meetings to discuss performance and areas of development?
How can you best advance your position in the negotiating process? Here are some thoughts:
- Identify each item to be negotiated. Who wants/needs it most? Who has the leverage? If you understand the motivation and leverage points, you’ll discover the best strategy.
- Use silence as a prompt. The more you talk, the more you’re giving away information. Ask questions, give a prompt or restate a comment to gather more data from others.
- When negotiating compensation, start out slightly higher than you think the target is for the job. If asked what compensation you’re looking for, give a range, not a number.
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