Friday, May 11, 2012

How to Negotiate Your Next Salary

Negotiating a salary can be an uncomfortable process. You want to get what you're worth but you also don't want to offend or scare off your future employer. This situation is only more complicated in a tough job market. When offers are few and job seekers are plenty, you might be tempted to take whatever is offered to you. But, that's rarely the smartest thing to do.
What the Experts Say
Regardless of the state of the job market, you should always negotiate. "You don't ever want to just say thank you," says Katherine McGinn, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of "When Does Gender Matter in Negotiation?" Getting a new job, or a new role, is an opportunity to increase your compensation, one that doesn't come around that often. John Lees, a career strategist and author of How to Get a Job You'll Love, says that people rarely get to re-negotiate the terms until after two years on the job.
Prepare for your next salary talk by following these principles.
Know your alternatives 
"The advice I got when I was graduating from college was try to have the offer from your second best choice in your pocket when you negotiate with your first," says Danny Ertel, a founding partner at Vantage Partners, LLC, a negotiation consulting firm in Boston, and co-author of The Point of the Deal: How to Negotiate When Yes is Not Enough. Of course that's tougher in a difficult employment environment. When you don't have alternatives — either other offers or a current job — you have a lot less power, McGinn acknowledges. "So you have to be creative about demonstrating the value you'll bring to the company," she says. For example, you need to explain why you are the perfect person to fill this specific job, with the necessary skills and experience, not just a solid candidate. "In a time of full employment, employers are looking for a person who can do the work. In a time of unemployment, they are looking for the absolute best person to do the job," she says.
Do your research
Employers set salaries based on what they currently pay people to fill similar roles and what they believe competitors are paying. They may also have a certain budget or a predetermined range. Information is power in negotiation so the more you know about these data points the better. Do some sleuthing. Search websites such as,, and to gather information about the organization and what it pays. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to reach out to people who might know what an appropriate salary is. Maybe it's someone you trust inside the organization, a career advisor, a search consultant, or contacts in the same industry. It may be uncomfortable to ask directly how much your friends in similar positions (or near strangers) make. Instead you can say, "What do you think the organization would pay for this position?" Then compare the advice you get. Don't rely on one piece of data or one type of source.
Use that information to set your own expectations and the hiring manager's. A good recruiter will ask if you have any base salary requirement. If asked, answer the question honestly. The employer needs to know that you're in the range they're hoping to pay so they don't waste their time or yours. If you're the top candidate, most employers are willing to do what they can to make the numbers work.
When the offer is too low
If the initial number is lower than the reasonable expectation you set, feel free to respectfully disagree. McGinn suggests you say something like, "Maybe I haven't conveyed enough the value I think I can bring to your organization because that sounds like a number you'd quote for someone who—" is much more junior, doing a different type of job, has less experience, etc. Then back up your statement with the information you've gathered. Even if you're pleased with the initial offer, Lees recommends you negotiate on some aspect of the job, if not the salary. Most employers assume you will. "If you don't ask for anything you're missing an interesting opportunity," says Lees.
Focus on "we"
Throughout the discussions, be aware of how you are coming off to the hiring manager or recruiter. Ertel says you don't want to appear like you're giving a list of demands. Instead, show that you're trying to come up with solutions that meet your needs and those of the employer. Use positive language. Demonstrate that you are open to other proposals aside from your own. It's a tricky balance; you want to push just enough. "You don't want to negotiate so hard that people are sick of you before your first day," says McGinn. The key is to know what you care most about — whether it be money or other aspects of the job offer — and stick to those points.
Negotiate for more than the money
McGinn says that most people make the mistake of negotiating for compensation rather than for a job. Candidates often focus on money because it is tangible but what makes a position attractive is not just the dollar amount assigned to it. Think about the aspects of the job that will make it satisfying: opportunities for advancement, exciting assignments, the chance to work with senior executives, etc. McGinn suggests asking yourself, "How can I build the biggest job I'm interested in having?" and then negotiate with your potential employer about those non-monetary elements, in addition to salary. Once you are in a position, McGinn says: "It's very hard to negotiate the basic structure of your job. People have to leave employment to do that."
Principles to Remember
  • Reach out to people — friends or colleagues — who can tell you what the employer might typically pay for the role
  • Be reasonable and honest with yourself and the hiring manager about what salary you're willing to accept
  • Offer solutions that will meet your needs and those of the employer
  • Negotiate on salary alone; the other non-monetary aspects often have more impact on your job satisfaction
  • Accept the initial offer made to you even if you don't have other alternatives
  • Go into the negotiation with a list of demands

Case study #1: Get the inside scoop
Anastasia Henderson* had a year left on her contract with a San Francisco-based tech company when her manager asked if she would consider a salaried job. Three years earlier, after having her first child, she became a contractor because she wanted part-time work and a flexible schedule. But, she was ready for more and told her boss she would be interested depending on the offer. Her job description wouldn't change — she would just go up to full-time. She felt she was in a good negotiating position because she had already proven herself and was well liked by her group and the leadership team. However, she still anticipated a low offer. "I knew that my salary would go down because I would be getting other benefits like vacation and healthcare," she says. But the salary Karen*, the company's COO, provided was much lower than she expected and she was disappointed. Karen explained that her last full-time position involved managing a team, this was more of an individual contributor role. Anastasia asked for time to think about it.
Then she sought the advice of the company's CIO, Ted*. "I hadn't worked with him directly but he had a reputation for being a good, upstanding guy. He was a straight shooter and I knew he respected me," she says. He told her that first she needed to take the emotion out of it and focus on what the company needs. He advised her from staying away from "I" statements so she wouldn't come off as demanding. He also gave her the inside scoop that they really wanted her for the position and the COO would likely work with her if she had reasonable requests. Anastasia took this information to heart and came up with a number that she felt she could live with. It was $10K more than the initial offer. She proposed this number to the COO and explained that while the job didn't include managing others, she was adding more value now than she had before. There were also parts of the offer that didn't matter to her. For example, she was already receiving healthcare benefits through her husband. She made it clear to the COO that these were not perks. The COO agreed to take these under consideration and would get back to her.
Within two days, Anastasia's boss told her that her counteroffer was accepted. While the final number was lower than what she initially wanted, it was a number she felt comfortable with. "I was willing to make some compromises for the job security. I knew they could terminate my contract at any time," she says.
Case study #2: Be honest about your alternatives
Keith Ellerman* was moving to New York City with his partner and wanted to find a new job. The first position to get to offer was with a New York City department. He was excited, but disappointed with the initial salary offered. "It was a classic case of misaligned expectations," he says. He had applied to the job through a friend rather than in response to a formal posting with a stated salary band. Throughout the interview process, he had been looking at other city jobs with similar titles and job descriptions and assumed the compensation would be comparable. It turns out there wasn't a correlation.
He decided to ask for a higher salary. "I didn't have formal offers but I knew I was one of two top candidates for two other opportunities and I knew the salary ranges," he says. He explained to the chief of staff who had been running the process that he expected to have other, more lucrative offers. "I had to be careful about what I said. I didn't want to lie," he says. He was clear and upfront. "I told them I'm really excited about the substance of the work. All things being equal I would prefer to join the team but because there is such a discrepancy in salary, it's a difficult decision," he says. He then proposed a salary that was 15% more than the initial offer. If the department would meet him at that amount, he would accept. The chief of staff agreed to take the request to HR. He soon came back and said that HR could meet his proposal. "In retrospect, I could've possibly gotten a higher offer had I had that initial conversation about salary in the earlier stages of the interviews but I was happy with the outcome," he says.
by Amy Gallo, (HBR)

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren't sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful peoplereach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.
1. Get specificWhen you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. "Lose 5 pounds" is a better goal than "lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you'll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague — be clear and precise. "I'll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals.
 Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.
To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., "If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I'll work out for 30 minutes before work.") Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.
3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist.
 When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good.
 Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.
Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit.
 Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.
7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you'd honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.") It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.
8. Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don't try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don't put yourself in harm's way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don't think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.
If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down." By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.
It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don't need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It's never what you are, but what you do.

by Heidi Grant Halvorson(HBR)

Choosing Between Making Money and Doing What You Love

"If you're really passionate about what you do, but it's not going to make you a lot of money, should you still do it?"
What a great question! It seems like just about everyone who has ever addressed a graduating class of high school or college seniors has said "Do what you love, the money will follow."
Inspiring. But it is true? Couldn't you do what you truly care about and very well go broke, as the question above (recently sent from one of our readers) implies?
Based on the research we did for our book, we're convinced that when you're heading into the unknown, desire is all-important. You simply want to be doing something that you love, or something that is logically going to lead to something you love, in order to do your best work. That desire will make you more creative and more resourceful, and will help you get further faster.
And, it will help you persist. When you're trying something that's never been attempted before — beginning an unusual project at work, or trying to get a new business off the ground — you're going to face a lot of obstacles. You don't want to be giving up the first time you encounter one.
But, let's be real. None of this guarantees wealth, or even financial success.
A friend of ours was hanging out at a bar with a few fellow professional musicians after a recording session, talking admiringly about another musician they all know. One of them commented on how fortunate it was for this musician that his music was commercial. In those four words, you will find an enormous truth. We all have our music and there is no guarantee that anyone will buy it. Absolutely none. These are two entirely separate things.
So this reader question attacks us straight on and says, in essence, "I have the desire, but I am pretty certain it's not going to lead anywhere that's monetarily profitable. Now what? Should I still go ahead?"
Of course you should.
Now let's qualify the answer a bit:
If you can't afford to do the thing you're passionate about — for example, if you do it, you won't be able to feed your family, or it would keep you from graduating college (which is something you think is more important than whatever you're passionate about) — then no, you'd better not bet your economic life on it. A basic principle concerning how you should deal with an unknown future is that every small smart step you take should leave you alive to take the next step. So, make sure you attend to your lower order Maslow needs of food and shelter and the like.
But even this doesn't mean you can't work on your passion a little — even if it's just for 15 minutes a day.
And you should!
Research (such as The Power of Small Wins that ran in Harvard Business Review May, 2011) shows that people who make progress every day toward something they care about report being satisfied and fulfilled.
We're in favor of people being happy. And we're also in favor of provoking people into pursuing happiness. The nice thing about this reader's question is that it might get people who have — by any objective standard — more than enough money to reconsider whether they want to continue to do things that are not making them happy, just because it'll make them more money. More often than not, these people say, "Once I get enough money, I'll do what I really want to do. I won't worry about the money." But somehow, they never get to that point. Time is finite. The question might be enough to get you to reconsider how you're spending it.
And of course, the assumption embedded in the question could be wrong. You might, indeed, end up making money if you engage in your passion, even though you currently think you won't. Remember, the future is unknown. Who knows what people will buy, or what you might invent after your very next act. At any moment in time, you are only one thought away from an insight — an insight that can change everything.
As we said in our previous post, when you are facing the unknown, they only way to know anything for sure is to act. When you are dealing with uncertainty — and whether you are going to make any money from your passion at this point is definitely an uncertainty — you act. You don't think about what might happen, or try to predict the outcome, or plan for every contingency. You take a small step toward making it a reality, and you see what happens.
Who knows? Even the smallest step can change everything.
So take those small steps. You might discover that your passion does, in fact, make you money. After all, who knew you could make huge amounts of money figuring out a way to connect all your friends (Facebook) or make a better map (pick your favorite GPS tool).
Even if you don't, you want to spend part of your day doing at least one thing that's making you happy. Otherwise, something is terribly wrong.

By, Leonard A. Schlesinger, Charles F. Kiefer, and Paul B. Brown(HBR)

What Does "Professional" Look Like Today?

From HBR

Building a Highly Engaged Workforce

From the Gallup Management Journal
Co-author of 
First, Break All The Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster, 1999) and Follow This Path: How the World's Greatest Organizations Drive Growth by Unleashing Human Potential (Warner Books, 2002)

When employees join an organization, they're usually enthusiastic, committed, and ready to be advocates for their new employer.  Simply put, they're highly engaged.

But often, that first year on the job is their best. Gallup Organization research reveals that the longer an employee stays with a company, the less engaged he or she becomes. And that drop costs businesses big in lost profit and sales, and in lower customer satisfaction. In fact, Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees -- the least productive -- cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity.

What can managers do to enhance employee engagement? What are the signs that employees are becoming disenchanted, and what can managers do to reverse the slide? We asked Curt Coffman, Global Practice Leader for Q12 Management Consulting and co-author of Gallup's best-selling book on great managers, 
First, Break All the Rules, andFollow This Path, to share strategies from the world's great managers.

GMJ: What can managers do to boost engagement levels in their work groups?

Curt Coffman: First, it's important to note that most managers aren't against employee engagement. These managers (great, good, or average) want their employees to feel that they're a significant part of the business. In fact, almost everyone joins an organization as an engaged employee. What managers do from that point on determines the path the employee will take -- toward continued engagement or toward the ranks of the "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" groups.

GMJ: Define those terms.
Coffman: Since 1997, Gallup has studied the responses of about 3 million employees that have participated in the Q12 survey, Gallup's 12-question assessment of employee engagement levels. We've found that employee responses to these crucial 12 items tend to fall into three distinct categories.

Employees who are "not engaged" aren't necessarily negative or positive about their company. They take a wait-and-see attitude toward their job, their employer, and their co-workers. They hang back from becoming engaged, and they don't commit themselves.

The "actively disengaged" employees are the "cave dwellers." They're "Consistently Against Virtually Everything." They're not just unhappy at work; they're busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, actively disengaged workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

GMJ: How do engaged employees differ?
Coffman: "Engaged" employees are builders. They want to know the desired expectations for their role so they can meet and exceed them. They're naturally curious about their company and their place in it. They perform at consistently high levels. They want to use their talents and strengths at work every day. They work with passion, and they have a visceral connection to their company. And they drive innovation and move their organization forward.

GMJ: Most people join an organization as engaged employees. What do their managers need to do to keep them engaged?

Coffman: To start with, employees must have a strong relationship with, and clear communication from, their manager. They need a manager who will clear a path for them, so they can concentrate on what they do best, and do more of it. They also need strong relationships with their coworkers. They must feel a commitment toward their coworkers and from them, because that commitment enables them to take risks and stretch for excellence.

Managers also have to challenge employees within their areas of talent, then help them gain the skills and knowledge they need to build their talents into strengths. And managers should help employees develop ownership of their goals, targets, and milestones, so employees can enhance their contributions to the company and increase their impact.

GMJ: But we know that some employees' engagement levels deteriorate. Gallup's most recent research suggests that 29% of the U.S. workforce is engaged, 55% is not engaged, and 16% is actively disengaged. Why does this happen?

Coffman: One reason is that engaged employees tend to get the least amount of focus and attention from managers, in part because they're doing exactly what their manager needs them to do. They're not "squeaky wheels." They set goals, meet and exceed expectations, and charge enthusiastically toward the nearest tough task.

Some managers mistakenly think they should leave their best employees alone. Great managers do just the opposite. Great managers tell us again and again that they spend most of their time with their most productive and talented employees because they have the most potential. If a manager coaxes an average performance from a below-average employee, she still has an average performer. But if she coaches a good employee to greatness, she gains a great performer.

The challenge comes when managers see some of the first symptoms that an engaged employee is wavering toward the "not engaged" category. Then they need to act immediately.

GMJ: What are those symptoms?
Coffman: One is that the relationship between the employee and the manager begins to diminish, and it isn't meeting the employee's needs. The second is that the employee begins feeling that their potential is being wasted -- that they don't make full use of their talents and strengths in their role.

GMJ: What should managers do when they spot an employee whose engagement levels are slipping?
Coffman: Go back to the basic principles of the Q12. Start with expectations. Has the employee lost clarity about his role? Is he confused about what the manager, and the business, need him to contribute every day? Then make sure he has the right materials, equipment, and information to move toward those outcomes.

Next, refocus on that employee -- on his skills, knowledge, and talents. Employees who get to do what they do best every day move toward engagement. And last but not least, catch him doing things right. Recognize him for excellence. Recognition is personally fulfilling, but even more, recognition communicates what an organization values, and it reinforces employee behaviors that reflect those values.

Set clear expectations, give employees the right materials, focus on the employee, and recognize your best performers -- those are the strategies that drive engagement.

-- Interviewed by Barb Sanford
Copyright Ó 2003 The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission.  Visit The Gallup Management Journal at