Four tips for negotiating a pay rise

January 13, 2022

Asking for a raise or a promotion is a daunting prospect. But if you feel your contributions to your practice aren’t being adequately rewarded, now may be the time to raise the issue with your manager or team leader.

Business Coach Sue Austin specializes in advising small to medium-sized firms. She suggests four considerations to keep in mind when discussing your compensation and role.

Understand your practice review process

Be professional about your request from the start. At the risk of stating the obvious, make sure you know when your next assessment or review is due.

“Make sure you’re aligned with the business process: it’s the path of least resistance,” Austin suggests. “Is there a way compensation is already reviewed and discussed – a process to hang your application on?” she asks.

Karen Fugle, executive coach at SleepingGiant Consultancy, agrees.

“Don’t ask at the wrong time – show you know the business,” she cautions.

If you’re an early-career architect, becoming qualified for Part 3 will usually trigger a salary increase by default, but in all other circumstances the assessment process – usually done annually – is standard.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have related preparatory conversations with the appropriate person.

“Reviews should never be full of surprises,” says Fugle. “You should know more or less what a manager is going to tell you and vice versa.”

Let your employer know that you would like to discuss your salary and/or position. You may want to ask for a short meeting to explain this: this will allow them to prepare their response.

Plan and rehearse the conversation

Part of being professional is being well prepared for any meeting.

“Don’t walk coldly into the meeting,” Austin advises. “Do your homework and plan carefully, so you can have a structured conversation.”

Ask yourself why you think you deserve a raise and practice formulating that answer. This must be demonstrated by your own results and contribution to your practice.

“What did you actually do?” Austin asks. “The mere fact of having served his sentence is not a good reason. This evidence can consist of goals you have achieved, the work you have done, and how you have helped achieve practice goals. Provide some specific examples to build your case. »

It’s also worth anticipating what your answer to a “no” might be in a situation in which you’ve made your case.

“Many compensation structures tend to be fixed, so think about what’s important to you,” Karen Fugle points out. “It may not be about the money. If you’re young, it may be about how much you learn or negotiable benefits such as holidays or flexible or part-time work.”

If, despite good preparation and evidence from your case, your request for a raise cannot be met, be sure to agree on measurable goals and next steps for progress.

Can you compare your salary to that of your peers?

Some sort of benchmarking might also be useful to gauge how well your salary matches that of your peers. whether internally or in the industry at large.

“Are you behind the market rate for your level? You can bolster your case by stating that, for example, an associate can expect to earn this amount and proving that you operate at an associate level. »

If there is pay transparency within your practice, you are able to refer to the evidence of your peers. Based on this, you can determine what is reasonable.

“This is where the art of negotiation can come in. The traditional negotiation tactic is to go a little high: ask for more than you expect to receive, but not in a ridiculous way.

Fugle points out that women may be more reluctant than men in this regard. His advice is to think of yourself as trading on someone else’s behalf.

“Studies have shown that women are better negotiators when they do this for other people – it can give you a useful boost of confidence.”

Don’t expect immediate results

Think of the meeting itself as potentially the first of many. Your request may not bring the answer you expected. After presenting your case, try to understand the answer. It could be that the financial climate, for example, makes it difficult for the firm to raise.

“Be prepared that you may not get an answer immediately,” warns Karen Fugle. “To move on, you have to agree on what your employer wants you to do.”

“You want to stay likeable: adopt a collaborative mindset and persevere. Keep having those conversations with your line manager to build trust and agree on what you need to do to take the next step.”

“Try to agree on next steps,” Austin suggests. “Don’t leave the meeting with the situation pending. Actions can be mutually agreed upon: your firm can consent to a review when a salary increase is feasible, or consent to a follow-up before your next annual review. ”

Find out what goals need to be met in order for you to earn a raise or promotion, and be clear about how their achievement should be recognized. These should be measurable goals, and Austin recommends setting them according to SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) principles.

The most important overall point is to be ready to have a two-way conversation.

“Put yourself in your employer’s shoes. Be empathetic to the needs of the practice. They are then much more likely to accept your point of view,” suggests Austin.

Thanks to Sue Austin, Founder, Sue Austin Consulting and Karen Fugle, Executive Coach at SleepingGiant Consulting.

Text by Matt Milton. This is a professional feature edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your comments and ideas.

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First published Thursday, January 6, 2022

William M. Mayer