In an ideal world, every organization would have a payment structure that reflects uniformity and equality with regards to the qualification, experience and even gender of its personnel. Employees will be treated with utmost regard, and extra earning or increments to be awarded to them upon achieving certain milestones or putting in extra time- they will not have to chase after the HR or kiss the ass of their superiors to get what they have earned or what they deserve.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is nothing like this ideal world. In fact, navigating the turbulent waters of Civil Service in the country is a different ball game altogether. To earn anything, you have to play the politics involved, and chase after what it is you want. You cannot chill and wait on the Lord.
What do you do when you find out Nkechi, who just got employed was offered a salary 30% higher than yours, even though you have 5 years’ experience – compared to her 2 years?
What do you do if you find out the money offered to you upon accepting the job in Port Harcourt did not factor in the high cost of living in the city? Or how do you tackle a situation where you have brought in a large sum of money to the company and they now do not want to process your own percentage/cut?
Basically, how do you ask for a raise and get it? Agreed, the idea of engaging in a negotiation, especially for a raise or promotion, can be quite intimidating – considering the state of the economy at the moment. Also, the fact that companies are just laying staff off anyhow doesn’t make it easier.
There is that fear that you may come off as greedy or disloyal, and possibly end up doing your position more harm than good. Sometimes you are afraid that your reasons are not justified or worthy consideration. But, where has fear and worries ever gotten anyone? If you really, truly believe you deserve more money, wouldn’t you like to be wise, grab the bulls by the horn and stop being the underpaid ‘mumu’?
Have a Figure in Mind
You want an increase? How much do you want, and in comparison to what? You cannot just go to your boss of the HR and announce that you want or deserve an increase without stating exactly the kind of or amount of increase you want, you will not be taken seriously.
Do some research, track down the salary data of your company and find out what your salary should actually be. Calculate how much increment you will need, to get you up to par with your co-workers.
Also, check to see if the company has increased anyone’s salary at all lately – that way you know if you are fighting an already lost battle or not.
Research on the pay scale for your position at other companies to know for sure what the standard payment is for your level of experience and skill is. Based on your research, come up with a figure.
Gather relevant evidence
To support your request, you will need an arsenal of evidence to show that you are not just asking for something far-fetched or something you do not truly deserve. Search for proof that will justify your appeal.
Start by making a list of all you have earned your company from day 1, including completed projects, targets exceeded or projects initiated, revenue brought in …anything that will show that you are an asset to the company and they cannot afford to lose you.
Evidence-backed defenses are a great weapon at the negotiating table.
When the actual conversation for the pay raise begins, do not beat around the bush or use too many anecdotes and flowery words. Go straight to the point, giving all available facts and make your request in the smoothest way possible.
Bear in mind that you are not in a court of law when you’re negotiating; you are stating an opinion, and there is no such thing as a false opinion.
Present yourself in the best possible light and where you have to take credit for a result you are at least partially responsible for producing.
You also have to be careful the kind of words you use, you don’t want to come off as desperate, or too harsh. Use diplomatic phrases. Some phrase you can use include: “Through my work, the company gained … in the last years”; “If you agree, we both could win by . . .” e.t.c.
Use any leverage you have
If you know that you have a competing offer at a rival company, then you can use that to demand a counter offer with better benefits. Where you have contributed any patent or formula to the firm, and you know that leaving would involve a legal nightmare, you may also want to throw that in.
The idea is not to threaten your boss, or the HR Manager, but to strongly advise them on the fact that increasing your salary would be the best way to go.
Ask For More Than What You Want
You already decided on a figure you want or a percentage you want your current salary to be increased by, but you want to keep that information to yourself. Do not just put the figure you desire on the table, first suggest a much higher figure. Asking for more than you intend to have in the end at the beginning of any negotiation is a very effective strategy. It is called the law of contrast. You have to be sure that that initial amount is nothing incredible or outrageous. For instance, if you are making N10,000 a day, and you want to start making about N12,000 a day, do not ask for N50,000 at first, you could start with N20,000. You don’t want them thinking you are disillusioned.
Highlight the needs of the company
It is simple, do not dwell so much on how you are being affected by the high cost of living or how much extra time you have had to put in. Talk about the needs of the company, instead of yours. How will increase your salary profit the company? Let them know that you have every intention of helping the company achieve their goals and getting a raise will foster that.
Be prepared to make concessions
If you are asking for 10% raise and your boss says “yes” without hesitation, you will not be as happy as you would have been had he said ‘no’ at first instance, and you negotiate to another percentage, even if lower. This is because you would be filled with buyer’s remorse, and left wondering if you would have been able to get a better deal had you asked for more.
It’s the same with your boss. He will never give you what you want just how you want it without attempting to cut it lower, that way he does not feel any sense of remorse. You have to be prepared to make certain concessions and give up certain things. This is actually one of the reasons you should start by asking for more than you actually really want. This also means that you do not wait for your boss to make the first offer, you throw in your expectation first and spin the rest of the negotiation from there, that way you have more control.
In all, be bold and courageous all through the negotiation. To receive, you will have to ask. There is no other way around it. Be detailed and clear with your request. What is the worst that could happen? You get a “NO”, but you still get to keep your current salary. You have absolutely nothing to lose by asking for a pay raise.