In your career whether you are seeking more money, higher status, increased visibility, additional hands, or more vacation time, you are most likely not to get it, if you don’t ask your manager for it. Good managers see asking as a sign of self-confidence and as a sign respect for your manager because you are not just expecting it to happen. But initiating a dialogue to see what does it take to make it happen.
Here are a few tips on having this conversation with your manager.
Build a bridge
Just because you have asked for something, does not mean that the company or your manager has to fulfill your wish. Asking is just the start of the process; the next stage is to build a transparent bridge between what you are asking for and your manager’s concerns/restraints around it. To build this bridge, the best way is to pose open-ended questions that will help you in exploring your manager’s opinion.
When asking these questions, keep in mind that all your requests should be leading to a win-win situation for both the parties. You can start the discussion by making a statement that implies a win-win situation for both the sides. Some of the starters are:
• “How can both us do well?”
• “How do we jointly define success?”
• “How can I turn this into a win – win situation for both of us.”
Avoid going overboard with questions
Most of the times, these discussions wander and develop into a cross-questioning and defending game, make sure that you keep your conversation out of this black hole. The golden mantra is to strike a common ground between listening and asking questions to guide the engagement towards a common winning ground.
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Start an open conversation specifically targeted to the specific points you plan to negotiate on in the coming days. These questions can give you valuable information for strengthening your future negotiations with your manager. Let us assume; you are targeting a career promotion; you may ask something along these lines.
“Because I have done this role for two years for a stretch now, what set of actions shall I take on my end to be eligible for a promotion?”
Work through the no and other corporate land mines
More often than not, the manager comes back citing time and current scenario as a constraint. Most of the organizations have learned the art of setting up unrealistic targets and then make the entire team feel that they are not good enough. This strategy waters down the teams demand as the manager can always come back and say that the targets have not been met and we are lacking behind, the team is not doing enough.
Case in point, your manager may tell you that because of bad performance there is an embargo on promotions. However, they will look at it after six months, once the number improve. Now you know that it’s the wrong time to negotiate for a career promotion, so instead of feeling dejected, shift gears to ask for something else, or throw other questions to comb for more information to bolster your odds of getting what you want in few months down the line. You may ask something along these lines.
1) “Believing that things are different in six months from now, what are my chances of getting a career promotion?”
2) “What are the three actions points on my side to secure this promotion in next six months? ”
3) “What are the stretch assignments that I can take on over the next six months to help me gearing up for the career promotion?”
After posting these questions, follow your manager’s guidance and agree to revisit the topic in six months to reevaluate the situation.
Generate what if scenarios
In any negotiation, the goal should be to avoid an outcome where the final response is a “no.” What-if responses help you in driving the conversation further by suggesting pointed actions that you can take to implement the suggestions or roadblocks brought to the table by your manager.
It’s important that you don’t have a monolog with your manager, keep on building on your manager’s responses/restraints in the open discussion by having some what-if scenarios handy. Case in point, if your manager says that you need more business development stamina before you can move up, you can reply with an exact action point that you could do to get that experience such as:
1) “What if I join the international road show to scout for new clients with our the marketing department?”
2) “What if I shadow our head of business development for the next fifteen days to see it in real life and learn from it?”
Using the what-if scenarios is an excellent way to move beyond the constraints and deal breakers to gain his or her commitment to a measurable plan that can be measured and reviewed. Remember, you may not get what you want every time, however, if you don’t even ask for it, you’ll never know what you missed.