Broaching the subject of money is always tricky, and for the contractor there’s an added risk: get it wrong and you may lose your contract. If you are confident you have a sound case for a rise, psychologist Dr Colin Gill suggests the following steps.
Step 1: Remember that most people build a business relationship not on the basis of money but based on whether they like you. And this in turn is partly based on whether you make their life easy, which is all down to competence. You have to be competent in order to do your job and competence is never enough to ask for a rate rise – you need to be operating well above that bar.
Step 2: Make a note of what you want and be clear in your mind about the outcome you wish to achieve. Write down all the reasons that the rise is justified. Top and tail your reasons with the request to reconsider your rate, as a reminder how to structure the conversation.
Step 3: Approach the boss and ask him or her for a private 10 minute conversation. This is not a discussion to be conducted over the phone or by the eater cooler. Be clear that the topic of the conversation is not a whinge or a moan, so they won’t be fretting in advance, which could create a tense atmosphere.
Step 4: When you have the meeting, don’t beat around the bush. Say something along the lines of: ‘I wish to discuss my fees’ – and look them directly in the eye in a friendly kind of way. Be yourself, be sincere, but don’t grovel.
Step 5: Run through the reasons that you have jotted down, as to why you are requesting a rate rise. Your reasons must be based on what you deliver to the boss, and have nothing to do with your personal circumstances, such as a mortgage rate increase.
Step 6: Never refer to someone else’s pay or rate or communicate a sense of grievance or injustice. This would give the boss an opportunity to compare your work with someone else’s – and you may come off the worse.
Step 7: If the answer is ‘no’, you have two choices. The first is to ask ‘why?’ The answer may be that the company simply can’t afford to pay you more because of increased overheads. In which case you can accept it, but try and extract a promise that you’ll have a conversation when times are better.
Step 8: Your second, more drastic option is to say ‘not good enough’ and resign. You should have prepared for this outcome and have worked out alternative work options - and that they are viable - if you choose to leave.
Step 9: A lot of research has been done around notions of fairness and individuals will usually compromise themselves in order to be fair. Nine times out of ten, therefore, if your request is reasonable, then a boss will agree to it.
Step 10: If you ignore this rule of fairness and screw a company in good times, when bad times come around they’ll probably remember and fire you. With thanks to Colin Gill, peopletester.com
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