most people, it’s not easy to talk about money. It can be difficult,
nerve-racking and even fear-inducing. However, being able to talk about
money will directly influence how much you make and the opportunities
you get. We don’t (yet) live in a world where your pay is solely based
on your competency; which means you have to be assertive and find
positive, constructive ways to engage in a discussion with your boss.
For those of you who are uncomfortable with the subject of compensation,
here are five non-confrontational ways to talk with your boss about how
much money you make and ways you can make more:
Check your bonus
you get into management most companies provide some level of variable
component to your pay. It may be based on your performance (such as
MBOs), the company’s performance or both. Nevertheless, bonuses are
typically set as a percentage of your base pay.
It is entirely
reasonable for you to ask about the bonus percentages for different jobs
at your company: What percentage does a manager get? A director? A
project lead? Are the bonuses consistently applied by level or are there
ways to earn a higher bonus percentage? Asking these questions will
give you an understanding of the levels you have available to increase
your variable pay. Additionally, asking these questions allows you to
understand if your variable is set fairly relative to your peers, and it
puts your manager on notice that you are paying attention.
people put their hand up for a bigger job before they are ready. Some
wait until they are more than ready. Guess who gets ahead faster?
your confidence to raise your hand early and ask for a bigger
responsibility before you are perfectly ready makes you more valuable to
your company. As a leader, it’s great to have team members who will
jump on challenges and volunteer, even if they are a stretch. Stretching
yourself and taking risk will lead to you more opportunities and you’ll
be rewarded earlier and more often than your peers who hang back.
Asking you manager for more challenging projects and for promotion
opportunities will naturally lead you into a discussion about your pay
and how you can grow it.
Understand the bias in the system
debate continues to rage about the pay gap between men and women (women
make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes, in full time work) and a
recent study shows the gender pay gap is even greater when it comes to incentive pay.
such an active discussion that if you are in a minority (or even if you
are not) it is OK to ask about the company’s approach to understanding
and correcting gender or racial bias in their pay practices. Ask if they
have run an audit on pay differences and if they have a plan of action
to correct any existing gaps (which you can be sure exists).
companies, like GoDaddy and Salesforce, say they are aggressively going
after this issue and plan to remove the gender-based pay gap over the
next few years. It’s a fair conversation for you to have with your boss
and HR, provided you stay positive and don’t play the victim.
get what you negotiate, not what you deserve.” This is the motivation
behind the thousands of self-help books and classes on negotiation, and
it’s true. That said, when it comes to your pay, it really helps to come
from a positive perspective.
Approach your conversation with your
manager from a perspective that you know you are contributing but you
want to contribute more and in doing so, make more money. Let her know
you want to negotiate, but don’t focus on how you are paid relative to
others, instead focus on your impact and ways you can advance the
company as well as your own career. Asking for more responsibility
naturally leads to more pay over time.
Pick your timing
is everything. Be smart about when you open up the conversation. Don’t
do it when your boss is about to go on vacation. Don’t do it when she is
slammed with preparing a presentation to the board. Don’t do it around
quarter end or a project deadline. Find a time when your boss can listen
with both ears, when you can bring up your questions in a relaxed
atmosphere, and then go for it!