Get the Pay Package You Deserve: 5 Critical Tips for Success

according to the gatekeepers℠…

Requesting a better compensation package is fraught with risk. Before you make the ask, read this! Here’s how to get what you’re worth without changing companies.


Requesting a better or higher compensation package is tricky and fraught with risk. The underlying (but unspoken) message when you request a raise is that you haven’t been paid what you’re worth—and the person you report to hasn’t noticed. Some bosses may be offended by the request, or feel uncomfortable when they’re not in control. There are lots of reasons why a request for more money can go wrong.


Best case: you’ll walk away with what you wanted and with your professional relationships intact. Worst case: your compensation will stay the same and your reputation and relationships will suffer.


Is it worth the risk? Absolutely. Especially if your motivation and commitment are suffering as a result of feeling underpaid. But the “ask” must be handled with care or it may backfire.


To obtain broad and diverse points of view on the subject, I asked members of the gatekeepers℠, a virtual consortium of 85 senior executive leaders from companies including IBM, Amazon, Sterling Bancorp, Harley Davidson, Microsoft and Unilever, to provide advice on how to successfully ask for a higher compensation package.


In summary, here is the advice they provided:


Number 1: Be prepared to prove your worth.


“Soft skills” like leadership abilities and relationships with colleagues and reports are important, but the decision-makers probably already know if you possess them or not. Focus on the bottom line and your value instead. “Build the business case indicating your ROI and value, both financial and otherwise, that you have brought and will bring to the business,” says gatekeeper Michael Ramirez, Senior VP at Herman Miller. “Don’t compare yourself to someone else.”


Number 2: Know the market.


Just as is the case when it comes to negotiating an initial job offer, it’s vital to research your relative value in the market for comparable roles at comparable companies. You can be sure that the decision makers at your company will. What’s the best way to find out if your compensation is on par with others in your role?


“Speak to the market,” says gatekeeper James Daly, Chief Human Resources Officer at the Affinion Group. “Talk to recruiters, talk to other senior execs. Make sure you know what you’re worth.”


Number 3: Think beyond salary.


As gatekeeper Sean McCormack, CTO of Harley Davidson points out, “Salary isn’t the only lever. It’s possible to ask for more vacation, different bonus rates, an expense account or remote work options.” It’s also wise to tailor your request to the needs of the organization. For example, if you know that the organization is focused on controlling salary increases, and a need for greater ongoing cash flow isn’t what’s motivating your request, asking for stock or a higher bonus percentage might be better strategies.”


Number 4: Don’t ask too frequently, negotiate too long, or pile on.


“Be careful,” says Alan Jope, President of Personal Care at Unilever. “This should not be a recurring conversation.” Those that ask for a better package, a different title or other perks associated with a leadership position too frequently are viewed negatively—seen as being “all about the money” or “out for themselves.”


Be aware of your negotiating partner’s temperament and be sure not to  “pile on.” When I was asked to take on a much broader role, I continued to negotiate job responsibilities after my promotion was announced. The CEO let me know that he done negotiating with me by taking away some of my new responsibilities. He wanted me (and everyone else) to know who was in control.


Number 5: Timing is (almost) everything.


This one was not explicitly mentioned by the gatekeepers, but it is too important to be left unsaid: If your timing is right, your chances for a successful outcome are much higher. Be sure your contribution and value within the company is at an all-time high when you make the ask. Your boss will need to spend some political capital to give you an unplanned pay package increase, so the pain associated with telling you “no” needs to be high.


Whenever and however you make your request, be sure to “read the room” and be prepared to take no for an answer. If you’ve been given the time to state your case and the answer is still no, listen carefully to the conversation and the reasons why your request was denied, then walk away with grace and dignity.


Janice Waterman is the lead consultant and founder of Waterman Hurst, a leadership career advisory/agency. Earlier in her career, she was one of the top 10 highest paid women in Silicon Valley according to the San Francisco Business Chronicle, and was one of the top five highest paid officers of two publicly traded technology companies. 

Share Article: