Lorna, a coaching client, was getting ready for her annual review. She wanted her base salary to be increased and felt that she had proven herself as she completed her fourth year in the same position.
When Lorna began working for Donald, she did not feel that she could properly negotiate her starting salary. She would have preferred 20% more, and was even told, by a reliable internal source afterwards, that she should have negotiated for more when hired. But Lorna needed the job and was concerned that there may not have been comparable options in her market. Lorna also felt that her skills were not strong in all areas and that this new opportunity would challenge her to learn and improve.
Knowing that some employers prefer to see what a new employee can offer (beyond what is shared during the interview process) she expected that she could possibly re-negotiate for a salary adjustment after a probationary period or at her first annual review. Neither of these happened even though she asked, her requests were always denied. In fact, over the four years, her base salary had only increased by a total of 4% with increments that have been merit increases (one year, none were awarded to anyone).
Lorna’s job title was similar to others in the company, yet she had been there the longest and had much greater responsibilities with access to sensitive information. (Lorna has characteristics of being dedicated to her duties, carries a high standard of both ethics and integrity; she is a consummate professional who knows what not to share. She knew her gaps when she began and worked very hard to learn what she needed to increase her competence.)
First, I asked Lorna to produce data that included her major accomplishments during each year and ways in which she overcame obstacles and had gone the extra mile. While it can be difficult to have a base salary increased, one suggestion was to have her role redefined to include more of the duties she has absorbed as a justification for a title change. The advanced title could warrant the base salary increase that she desired. She lives in a major metropolitan area where the cost of living has risen. Her market research had shown Lorna that there are other opportunities now available which gave her the confidence to ask for more. Sharing this local market information hinted to her supervisor that she was informed and might have even been actively looking.