Proper preparation prevents poor pay

Somewhere between finishing off 2009 projects and lining up the staff
Christmas party, negotiating a pay rise for 2010 will be high on many
accountants’ agendas.

Yet, despite good intentions to ask for a 20% rise, I know quite a few
accountants who cower down at the final hurdle. But for those of you who feel
they deserve a boost in salary, what can you do?

First of all, you need to question where the balance of power lies? With jobs
scarce in the marketplace, your boss might be confident that all staff are happy
just to have a job.

Ask questions to change your boss’s perception. Questions are much more
powerful persuaders than statements. Rather than telling your boss your
quarterly stats were impressive, frame a question to him where he tells you they
are impressive. When he has told you how impressive your numbers are, and is
nodding merrily, you’ll find him much more amenable than you would have if you’d
simply stormed in unannounced, told him the facts and issued threats.

Remember that negotiating is about give and take. Often from the employee’s
point of view, you are trading your likelihood of staying with the firm for
improved salary or benefits. And in times when money is tight, you may
realistically have to be content with perks rather than more money.

Eye contact is extremely powerful and don’t be afraid of silence. The best
guarantee of coming out of the meeting better off than when you went in is by
preparing thoroughly. Know your interests and his, what you can trade and what
your bottom line or walk-away position is. What will you do if you walk out with
absolutely nothing? Your self esteem will have taken a bashing and your ability
to negotiate effectively next time weakened.

Thorough preparation will tell you whether this is a starter or not.

Finally, think of your wider interests. It can be easy to make a short-term
gain at the expense of your longer-term well-being in the firm.

The challenge is to turn debate into dialogue; this is the only way to ensure
everyone is happy with the outcome. A win for both parties ­ a little extra
remuneration in exchange for keeping a happy, motivated employee ­ is likely to
result in increased productivity from you, a greater sense of security for the
employer and an improved working relationship. I’d call that win-win.
Jack Downton is MD of The Influence Business

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