It’s an uphill battle in a downhill economy!
Here are a few do’s and don’ts that can spur your courage and prevent mistakes. Some concrete examples might help, as well.
Evaluate your current position and employer.
If you work for a small business with minimal staff, the very survival of your company may be at stake. Lending has dried up. People have delayed purchasing all but necessary products, and marginal services have taken a real beating. Needless to say, if you sell cars for a living, run for the nearest door!
This MAY not be the best time to talk salary increases, but don’t dismay. Remember, “It’s always about money!” Put yourself in the owner’s shoes. Can you help cut expenses in any way? Can you take on an additional role that will increase business? Can you add the incentive of commissions based on performance? The same types of questions apply to mid-range and large employers.
Use your creativity and knowledge of your company and management style to develop strategies. Payroll is the first category a small business owner reviews for potential expense cuts, in order to maintain profitability; but if your role is critical and your commitment is evident, you are far more likely to meet with success. Owners need, and will pay for, solid employees with an eye on expenses and profits.
A key example underscores role expansion to increase your compensation. I worked for a relatively large chamber of commerce with waning membership and interest. As well, the chamber vice president could not devote sufficient time to produce an effective newsletter that would maintain, much less increase, advertising revenues. Besides initiating new programs to attract and sustain member interest, I accepted the challenge of editing and producing the newsletter with a salary increase of $5,000. More work for me, to be certain; but the income increase helped, and the improved publication attracted more advertisers.
Hit a Home Run to Boost Your Value
No, I’m not kidding. Just read a little further to see how this can help your career and bank account. When you develop a winning idea that promotes the business, increases sales, decreases expenses or otherwise improves the bottom line, you can be sure to attract attention.
Another example proves me right! I directed marketing communications for the third largest franchisee of a national restaurant chain. When they bought ten jaded restaurants in the Atlanta area, it was a blessing and a curse. They planned massive investment in facility upgrades and a very proactive staff training program, but we had to overcome some very negative perceptions.
I called a Fortune 500 supplier for a meeting. We lunched, golfed and brainstormed to develop an ingenious public relations event for the grand opening. The restaurant chain contributed more marketing dollars, the supplier provided manpower and expertise, and an exceptional event marketing team produced the event.
The results were phenomenal. Nationwide and local publicity brought increased local store sales and higher regard for our parent company. Resulting marketing and development awards generated investment interest and dollars, and my own compensation package increased more than the norm. When you successfully develop and implement an idea, people notice you or, as I say, “They can hear you.” You’ll need internal and external sales strategies to make it happen, but the effort is well worth the end result.
You may not be a marketing guru, but your pencil-sharp accounting or organizational skills might give birth to ideas that could positively impact your company. Again, think like it’s YOUR company, and the ideas may roll.
Let’s Talk Value.
Frankly, sometimes you are not receiving the compensation package your position demands in the marketplace. Either your company’s growth or your position in the company have changed; or your up-front negotiations were not as sharp, as they should have been. Step very carefully here, but take note what happened to me. It may help you approach your superior for a respectful reevaluation.
I interviewed for the Director of Marketing Strategy position for a respected national company that was relocating to my city. My interview with human resources was immediately followed by a very dynamic and positive interview with the president.
“What kind of salary are you looking for?” he asked. My mind raced. Okay, I’m not “Nellie Negotiator”, and the South is not known for high salaries. In a prior phone interview, I had offered a possible salary requirement, subject to the interview process.’ “They’re a nonprofit,” I thought. “I’m underpaid where I am. How much do I dare push this?” When I said an amount that represented a 35% increase over my present compensation, he said, “Done.”
Two months later, I sat in my very nice office pouring over ad agency invoices for $300,000, $550,000 and lesser amounts. The company was adding two new divisions. I already had traveled to Maryland, NYC, Los Angeles and Puerto Rico. My approved budget exceeded $20,000,000, with exacting cost-per-call expectations.
“Wait a minute,” I reasoned. Yes, I could be nave, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to address the situation, particularly since my relationship with the President was strong. I explained my thinking to him.
“Oh, so you’re demanding more money already?” he retorted. Mind you, he could be a real bear.
“No sir, I’m not doing that at all. I’m telling you my thoughts and asking for you to consider them. “A week later, without further discussion, I not only received a $10,000 raise. Recognizing my responsibilities, he assigned a project manager to my department.
I offer every suggestion with the cautionary note that you must know your company culture and management style, as well as the state of your business. If the atmosphere warrants, believe in yourself and move for higher compensation with my very best wishes.