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Yippee! Promotions & Raises, Part 2 Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Going for the ''Big Ask''


There you are, standing in front of the mirror in your bathroom, the image reflected back at you is talking and gesturing just like you, explaining, convincingly, why you deserve to be promoted. You marvel as it says things like, ''By adjusting our tactics to include online virals, we were able to penetrate younger demographics.'' And then, ''The media mix I developed for our detergent client generated 50% more reach than last year when the budget was twice as big.''

Just then your roommate steps in to grab his toothpaste. You're caught mid-sentence. He rolls his eyes at you. Again.

But so what? You're doing exactly as you ought to, preparing your spiel so that when you do present it to your boss, you've ironed out the bugs and honed your pitch to perfection. After all, you live in marketing-land. Why shouldn't you practice what you preach?

Setting Up the Pitch Making a proposal to your boss for a raise or promotion involves more than rehearsing a speech. Look back at Part 1 in this two-part series, Preparing for the Big Ask, for details on how to get ready.

Once you've got your stuff together, the key factors in getting to Yes are mainly about process. For example, timing-wise, it's best to wait until a scheduled performance review--if you have one--unless it's too far in the future. Otherwise, you'll need to consider how your boss likes to be approached when it comes to being asked for something special. Is there a certain day of the week that might be better than others? A particular hour of the day when she might be more available to you?

Scheduling the meeting is an art form itself. Don't just ask for an hour of your boss's time ''to discuss that raise you owe me.'' Think in terms of persuasion instead. Tactfulness is key. Consider sending a brief advance e-mail message highlighting some of your key accomplishments.

Here's the Pitch It's up to you to set the tone of the meeting itself. Start by thanking your boss sincerely for taking the time to meet with you. Explain the purpose of getting together and outline the stages you'd like to walk her through in order to state your case.

Watch for feedback, both verbal and non-verbal. If, for example, your boss states upfront she's on your side and thinks you really do deserve the raise or promotion you're requesting, consider scaling back your presentation. Choose some important pieces of evidence from your list of accomplishments to support this positive decision. Help your boss minimize ''post-purchase dissonance'' by letting her feel justified in supporting your cause. Same goes for after the fact. Make sure you continue to work hard, be a team player and show that you're truly worth the bump in status or bucks.

If, on the other hand, it looks like it might be a tough go, remember that you've prepared for this moment thoroughly. Stick to the script. Share with her why you think you deserve a raise or promotion, referring to your achievements, awards and compliments you've received. Show her samples of your best work. Then explain how being rewarded will enable you to be even more valuable to the company.

As for objections you may encounter, recall that you've thought about these beforehand and have convincing responses for each one. Now's not the time to fold like a cheap tent in a hurricane. Bear in mind: Your boss is likely looking for signs of your intestinal fortitude. Why should she consent to promote you or pay you more if you can't even mount a decent argument on your behalf? And if you wilt under the slightest bit of push-back, what does this say about you?

What Have We Learned? No matter how things turn out, you'll learn a great deal about how you respond to pressure just by going through the process. Take some time after the fact to make notes on how you did. List items under the following headings:
  • What I did well.
  • What I did not so well.
  • What seemed to work best in terms of getting toward Yes.
  • What barriers or objections I wasn't able to address effectively.
  • What, if anything, I'd do differently next time.
  • What I'd for sure do again next time because it was effective this time.
  • If the answer from my boss was No, what reasons were given for this.
  • If the answer from my boss was No, what can I do to make sure that next time I'll get closer to Yes.
Of course, if your ''big ask'' is turned down this time, be prepared to either get back to working hard immediately or else start assessing whether maybe you might be better off seeking employment where you're likely to be more appreciated.

Regardless, by approaching things in a professional, carefully planned way, you greatly increase your chances of getting what you ask for. And if at first you don't succeed, make note of your learnings, then try again later. Best of luck with your efforts!

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