Dealing with Your Boss Archives

“Want a Raise? – Here’s How to Ask”

Published on August 11th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

“At the end of my salary, there’s always a lot of month left.”

– Loesje

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORY: Here are some survey results recently published by compensation-data firm PayScale:

    a. Over 90% of U.S. workers reported being dissatisfied with their salary.
    b. But, only 43% of U.S. workers reported asking for a raise last year.
    c. About 19% of U.S. workers were offered a raise without asking for one.
    d. But 38% didn’t ask for a raise because they were uncomfortable asking, feared being too “pushy,” and some even thought they would lose their jobs if they asked.
    e. One statistic stood out over all: of those who asked for raises, 75% were successful.

How many received the raise they felt they deserved? 44%. Not too bad. Is it possible they didn’t prepare themselves with a careful plan, practice their “pitch” for a raise, and therefore missed out on a golden opportunity to be more successful? Quite possibly, in fact, likely.

While every employee, every employer, every industry, and the financial circumstances of every company are unique, three things are for sure: First, unless you were among the 19% who were given a raise without asking, you had to ask for one to get one. Second, even if your are among the 19% who were given a raise without asking, chances are 56% you were not pleased with the result. Third, there are more effective ways to do anything you do, and that includes asking for a raise.

So, it pays to think about your raise request, organize your thoughts, decide who you will ask, consider the rationales you will use to justify your request, and practice your raise request, all before making your request. These wise steps are steps few consider and even less practice. Sad, because they work.

LESSON TO LEARN: Requesting a raise can be a stressful proposition. You may be concerned that your request will make you seem “pushy,” or even anger your boss. You may be fearful that you’ll just be turned down. And, too, you might be granted such a small raise that it would be more than disappointing, even humiliating. If you want to find them, there are so many reasons to avoid requesting a raise in salary.

On the other hand – and there is always an “other hand,” isn’t there? – there are more important reasons to take the initiative, assume the risk, and get past your insecurity and anxiety. The first three are quite familiar: “food, clothing and shelter.” Others include the need to care for, and prepare for, kids, loved ones, retirement and the proverbial “rainy days” that are sure to visit when you least expect them. Raising your salary in your present job can also justify a higher salary in your next job, for “salary history” is a question raised in nearly every job application and in nearly every interview.

Keeping yourself at or above “market rate” for your position and responsibilities, and consistent with your perceived value to your employer, is your “first job” and not your employer’s responsibility. Sure, you may be offered a raise on each hiring anniversary or each January first, but whether you receive a raise, the amount you receive, and the frequency you receive one a raise are your job to influence positively, and not your employer’s. As the saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Over time, we have coached many of our clients in this process. Each person, each employer and each situation is unique, but there are certain fundamental truths, and even a few “tricks of the trade” that we have proven themselves especially helpful when asking for a raise.

Here they are – all 30 – for your consideration.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Based on many years helping employees negotiate for themselves, here are 30 logical, sensible and effective pointers that should help you when you decide to ask for your raise:
Read the rest of this blog post »

“Private Equity Buying Your Employer? Resist These 11 Employment Negotiation Tactics”

Published on September 16th, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

“Some people, when they learn that two wrongs don’t make a right,
try three. ”

Author Unknown

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES”: For many years I have counseled and negotiated on behalf of employees when their employers (a) are being purchased by Private Equity investors, (b) are owned by Private Equity investors, and (c) are being sold by Private Equity investors. I’ve also represented employees being recruited to work for Private Equity-owned employers, commonly referred to as Private Equity “Portfolio Companies.”

In the course of those efforts I believe I have learned a thing or two about the nature of Private Equity-owned employers, and the tactics they commonly use in employment negotiations. And, though I am a few years younger than he was, as Michelangelo said at age 87, “I am still learning.”

Sure, every Private Equity investor and every Private Equity Portfolio Company is unique. And, too, you can’t paint tens of thousands of people with one broad brush. That said, there are certain commonalities and cultural norms to be found in certain industries, and certain lessons to be learned in reflecting on one’s experience over decades.

On the basis of those decades of experience, I’ve assembled this list of “Eleven Employment Tactics of Private Equity-Owned Employers.” I present them to you in the hopes that, for you, “forewarned is forearmed” (although I have never seen a person with four arms – just kidding!)

I present these thoughts to you so that you are better able to see what is likely coming your way, and more capable and confident in navigating and negotiating your way to success and security at work – the foundational purpose of SkloverWorkingWisdom.™

LESSON TO LEARN: Is it any wonder that Private Equity investors – whose job it is to (a) locate a company to purchase, (b) purchase that company, (c) reduce its costs and increase its sales, and then (d) sell that company, (e) all with one purpose in mind – to make as much money as possible for themselves and their investors – tend to conduct themselves in similar ways? It should not be surprising at all.

Likewise, it should not be surprising at all that those with a short-term perspective, who engage in the buying, exploiting (in all senses of that word), and selling companies tend to act with short-term objectives in mind, not concerned with the long-term consequences of their actions on employees, communities and other stakeholders. Why worry about the long-term effects of your actions on employees, communities and customers, when you won’t be around more than three to five years? After all, “no one changes the oil in a rental car,” now, do they?

As employers of their “Portfolio Companies,” Private Equity managers do all they can to (a) lower overhead, and (b) maximize the company’s eventual sales price – for themselves and their investors. They don’t work for, get paid by, or care much for, others. With one goal in mind – “R.O.I., or Return On Investment” – why would anyone expect anything different?

Know who you are dealing with, and keep a sharp eye out for the “sharpie” Private Equity investors who are quite convinced that their access to large amounts of investment capital is a sure sign that God has anointed them as a segment of the human race above all others.

These 11 employment tactics that Private Equity investors use when purchasing part or all of employers are to be watched out for and to stood up to, as best you can. While there is no guarantee that you will be successful in negotiating with a Private Equity manager, or in resisting the changes they will inevitably insist upon, the more you know the better you will do. That is guaranteed.

Below we present 11 employment tactics of most Private Equity-owned employers, and the best steps we have found to resist their impact. As noted below, one thing you might do, right away, is to consider changing employers, or at least testing the waters, because that is your ultimate response to these tactics: seeking employment elsewhere.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Keep a sharp eye out for these 11 Employment Tactics of Private Equity Investors: Read the rest of this blog post »

“How can I diplomatically ask why I did not receive a workplace Award?”

Published on August 11th, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I have been nominated four times for an Honor Award at work but have not once been chosen. I wonder why this has happened in a repeated fashion, and this has led to considerable self-doubt.

I must admit that I am one to periodically challenge decisions made by others if I truly believe they are in error, and I believe, as well, that I am quite effective in my role.

How might I diplomatically raise this issue in an email to my superiors?

Melbourne, Australia

Answer: Dear Dahlia: Your question is a rather unusual one, yet one that I particularly appreciate receiving. You remind me of myself, several decades ago, and so I particularly appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and others.

1. To begin, let us first appreciate the fact that being nominated for an Award is, in itself, an acknowledgement of your value. I do not mean that your concern is without valid basis; far from it. However, no one should be completely disappointed – or doubt one’s abilities and worth – by repeatedly being nominated but not chosen. Some of our very best athletes do not gain entrance to the Halls of Fame, and some of the very best actors never receive the Golden Statuette. There is no shame, and a great deal to be proud of, in being among those who are nominated several times. So, first, see the brighter side of things with the “attitude of gratitude.”

2. Any inquiry to workplace managers that seems potentially “sensitive” is best expressed this way: “How can I better serve you?” In many workplace circumstances, employees need to request information, assurances, or other responses that might seem potentially “sensitive” to the recipients. I always encourage clients in such circumstances to do so in a way that sounds more like “How can I better serve you?” This is because when employees express in one way or another “I want, I need, I deserve,” the emotional response of the recipient often is “Everyone says that.” But if you “speak to” the person in words that are “sweeter” to their ears, the same question often receives a “sweeter” response.  

For example, if you are unhappy with your (a) small raise, (b) failure to receive a promotion, (c) a low discretionary bonus, or other such disappointment, “Hey, I got shortchanged!” does not work as well as “Is there any way I might be viewed as deserving that reward, and if so, I will strive to do that or achieve that for you.” It’s just a matter of human nature: we are all better tuned into our own welfare and happiness than the welfare and happiness of others.

3. In fact, you might start off your inquiry with a hearty “Thank you!” Though it might seem counter-intuitive, you might begin your inquiry with a “Thank you for the nominations, which I so very much appreciate.” As a young lawyer, I learned that I could get so much more from Judges if I began my request with a “Thank you, Your Honor, for the Court’s willingness to entertain my motion. In that light, might I request the Court also consider X, Y and Z,” when all along I was actually upset with the Judge in the first place. And, of course, I smiled, because “Smiles automatically and immediately increase your face value.” Yes, I found myself far more successful when making requests when I began my sentence with “Thank you” even when I felt something quite different.

4. Your inquiry can mention each of the outstanding contributions you have made, so long as it does not sound like “Hey, boss, you sure made a mistake.” Rather, I might suggest that you express, preferably in writing, something like “I always do my best, and in that light did accomplish A, B and C, which I thought would likely be sufficient to be provided the Honor Award. Might you suggest additional contributions that would likely be viewed as deserving of the Honor Award and, if so, I will strive to achieve them, as well.”

In this way, too, you are not saying “I deserve it,” but rather “Though I did contribute my best, what else might I do for you, which I would also do my best to do?” and in doing so you are making mention of your outstanding contributions in a more “welcome” and “palatable” way.

5. One common workplace dynamic that I do want to share with you: “achievers,” and especially “over-achievers,” are often viewed as potential “competitors” by Managers, who may fear losing their own jobs. I have seen it more times than I can count, and I have experienced it myself when I was an employee: Sure, your Managers want you to be an achiever, but they do not want you to be a “great achiever,” because that might just make them fear you as a potential competitor for their own jobs.

This would only be made worse if you are a person who is not afraid to challenge decisions of others if you believe better decisions should be considered, for the betterment of all. You did describe yourself in that way in your question.

If you do that, I would encourage you to continue to do that, because the world needs better ideas, better decisions, and better ways of doing things. But at the same time, temper it a bit, make your suggestions ones that your Managers might take credit for – Managers LOVE to take credit for employees’ ideas – and do a little more to “polish their apple” than to polish your own.

Recall the fundamental key to negotiation: what the other person seeks is more important than what you seek, because what they seek is THE KEY to your getting what you seek.

Dahlia, I truly hope this is helpful to you, and that at a very minimum, you’ll give it a good try, and in doing so bear in mind the dynamics of workplace negotiation. Please send my best regards to all of my blog visitors “Down Under.”

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Want to learn more about workplace negotiating? Consider viewing our Sklover On Demand Video entitled “Can I Really Negotiate with My Boss?” Just sit back, relax, watch and listen. To do so, just [click here.]

  Repairing the World,
One Empowered – and Productive – Employee at a Time™

© 2014, Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.

“Can I reverse my company’s decision to outsource my work?”

Published on May 15th, 2011 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Dear Alan! Very clever recommendations and excellent ways to think about new jobs. I forwarded your articles to my students and followers.

At the same time, I did not find ideas that can help me with the problem I am now facing. I am the head of a top Research & Development (“R&D”) Center of one of the biggest Russian gas companies. I helped move our organization to one of the top-rated in the world energy sector. From our efforts, our company’s revenues increased 500%.

However, the mother company is now looking to move our R&D Center outside of the parent corporation, and instead to outsource our work to less expensive sources. They also seem concerned about our R&D Center’s growing independence of them. This could likely result in our jobs being lost. Can you recommend some course of action for me to take?

Roman S.
Moscow, Russia

Answer: Dear Roman:  

It is good to know that our efforts are being enjoyed by people in Russia. I think you may be the first person to submit a question from your country. Welcome to our Sklover Working Wisdom family!!

1. Remember the “Number One Rule” of workplace navigating and negotiating: Don’t ever lose sight of this important part of human nature: Most people – and that includes Decision-Makers – will respond most quickly and forcefully to their own perception of their own self-interests. They don’t care as much about your concerns and interests, or even the company’s concerns and interests, as they do about their own. And that getting what you want is primarily a matter of changing their perception of their own self-interest

2. So, focus on what the “Decision-Makers” view as “of value” and “risky” to them. From what you have written, it seems as if “Decision-Makers” at the mother company view your R&D Center as either, or both, (a) too expensive – which is a question of “value,” and (b) too independent, which is a matter of “risk.” Might the Decision-Makers at the “mother company” reconsider their decision, and maybe even reverse their decision, if (a) they became confident that the R&D Center would cost them less money to run than outsourcing would cost them, and (b) the R&D Center was totally under their control? The odds are certain that, at the very least, these things would encourage them to change their decision to outsource the R&D Center’s work to others. Perhaps, too, you could remind them that, if the outsourcing does not go well, they would personally look bad, and as a result of such a poor decision, they could even lose their own jobs.

3. Then you need to alter the Decision-Makers’ view of how they perceive you. Now, consider how you can convince the Decision-Makers that closing your R&D Center (a) will hurt them financially, that is, will cost them more than at present, and (b) make them lose even more control of their R&D efforts. You know, Roman, these days many companies are now deciding that “outsourcing” their efforts is not such a good idea, and are bringing those efforts “home.” Here in the U.S. many companies in many industries are finding that when they have people far away do the work (i) the quality suffers, or (ii) there are many communications difficulties, or (iii) they did not take into account all the cultural differences, or (iv) the time zone differences cause many unforeseen inefficiencies, or (v) other problems arise. That is why so many U.S. firms are starting to bring their work back in a wave of what is being called “in-sourcing.” That is, they are reversing the decision that your Decision-Makers are now making. 

4. Consider this effort to be just one more R&D effort. I suggest you prepare a report – sort of an R&D effort – showing that these problems are likely to arise, and that your company would be quite wise to, instead of closing down the R&D Center and outsourcing all of its work, try instead a smaller “pilot program,” that is, merely engage in a small test of outsourcing. Overall, the Decision-Makers need to be shown that it is in their own interests to either “go slow” or “reverse course” in their R&D outsourcing. And the Decision-Makers must be convinced that it could be this decision, if not reconsidered or reversed, that could hurt them – personally, and a lot. 

5. This process is simple, universal and the most effective one there is to getting job security. Roman, I am not fully familiar with the details of your company, your industry, or you, personally, but from the limited facts you have presented to me, this is what you need to do. In fact, it is almost always a matter of viewing the circumstances from the viewpoint of the Decision-Makers, and then altering that perception in your favor. This analysis is universal, because it goes to the heart of the matter – the other person’s interests – and there is never a downside to focusing on that.

I hope this is of help to you, and your colleagues. Thank you very much for forwarding our articles to others. Good luck to you. 

Al Sklover

P.S.  Please consider subscribing to our blog. You’ll automatically get all blog posts, and it’s free! 

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“How can I make my employer open emails I send him complaining about Human Resources?”

Published on September 30th, 2010 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I have submitted emails to my employer complaining about things the HR/Office Manager/Bookkeeper in our office has been doing and saying about other employees and me. She is a very bullying person. However, he deletes my emails without reading them.

I’ve also complained to him in person, but I feel like I am hitting a brick wall. I believe he is friends with her, but nothing more.

Any suggestions?

         Wallingford, Connecticut 

Answer: From what you’ve written, especially that one person is in charge of HR, Office Management and Bookkeeping, it sounds like your company is a small one. In your situation, as in many smaller companies, I think you need to think this way:  “HR and your boss are the same thing. If you are complaining about HR, you are really complaining about your boss.”

Yes, “HR and Your Boss are really the same thing.”

I say this because by now your boss must know what the HR Manager is doing. If he hasn’t stopped her from being a bully, and doing and saying things about others, you have to conclude that the HR Manager is doing what he wants her to do, and is doing it in the way he wants it done.

The reason, I believe, he is not opening up your emails is that he expects they will be complaints, and he has no desire to read more. Unless something changes his view of things, he is quite unlikely to stop doing that.

The only thing that might make your boss change “his” ways – and, thus, HR’s ways – is if he comes to believe that his interests are in jeopardy. Either that he will lose money, or employees, or customers, or suffer in some other way. It is a fundamental truth about people: people will not change their ways unless they feel they need to.

What you have to do is figure out what it is that might make your boss believe it is in his own interests to open your emails, acknowledge their receipt, and perhaps make the HR Manager change her ways. I wish I could help you in that, but you are the one who knows him, knows his business, and knows what he cares about.

Give it some thought. It is the Number One thing all employees must do – regardless of the size of their company – to “navigate and negotiate” to get what they want, need and deserve at work.

Hope that helps. Thanks for writing in. Please consider subscribing to our blog – it’s free, and definitely worth the price!

          Best, Al Sklover

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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