How To Ask For More Money. Part II.

In a previous post, I laid out initial steps you should take to ask for a raise in How To Ask For More Money, Part I.

Without further ado, here are the final steps to being flush with cash.

How About Your Performance? 

Third, you need to do some self-reflection and be really honest with yourself. This can be the most difficult step. If you are going to ask your manager for a salary review with the end goal to increase your salary, you had better know for certain if you are a valued employee doing valuable work. You had better be able to answer the question that a manager won’t ask but will be thinking, “what have you done for me lately?” if you want your company to show you the money. If you don’t already have copies, ask your manager or HR for your performance reviews. Look over them, have you progressively improved year over year? Have you met your goals? Have you earned additional designations? Have you increased your skill set? Put yourself in your manager’s shoes, if you had several grand each year to award to an employee at your discretion, who gets it? The employee who meets expectations year-over-year but never challenges themselves and loves the comfort zone or the employee who exceeds expectations by sticking their neck out to lead a highly visible project and eagerly pursues developmental opportunities? Then the hard part, you have to consider the value of your position to the organization. If you work for the R&D department in a tech firm, your position is likely highly valued. If you are the clerical assistant in an engineering firm, your position is not that highly valued. If any one can replace you in your position with minimal training and the same work gets done and at the same level, you do not hold a valuable position. All jobs are not created equal.

Sizing Up Your Manager

After reconnaissance and self-reflection, now it’s time to size up your manager and your relationship with him or her. Is your relationship more formal or informal? How long have you been working for him or her? Is your manager a front-line supervisor or senior manager? Is your manager hands-on in his or her employee’s professional development? Does he or she freely give recognition? Does your manager really understand what you are doing? Not just your job description but what you are doing. The answers to all of these questions are going to guide how you approach your manager, how you request a salary review and increase and how much and what type of ammunition you need to build your case. Use your emotional intelligence to get into your manager’s shoes.

The Salary Discussion

Now that you have properly done your research and are ready to ask for a raise, schedule time with your manager and let them know ahead of time that you want to discuss your compensation. Be prepared for the meeting, bring your talking points and all of the data you have gathered. Once you have presented your request and argument, your manager may straight up say no or tell you they need to get back to you. You need to be prepared for either of those answers and anything in between. Whatever the outcome, let your manager know you appreciate their time in listening to you and considering your request. If you do not get a raise, leave the door open to have further discussion with your manager by asking what you can do to be considered for one in the future. If you do receive an increase, be thankful for what you get and continue to work your ass off.

Good luck to you and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

How To Ask For More Money. Part I.

Feeling overworked and underpaid? Join the crowd. In a March 2016 article from Fortune, only a little more than 1/3rd of Americans feel they are paid fairly. As an HR Representative counseling employees, I often hear a multitude of reasons why people are unhappy to some degree with their salary. From the perception to being “on-call” all of the time, to doing more than what their manager realizes to just plain feeling undervalued, employees are starting to wonder how to take steps to ask for more money.

Before you barge into your manager’s office demanding more money with little to know argument to back up your request, which never works out well for anyone, I strongly urge you to do the following.

Do your recon.

First, you need to do a little reconnaissance. Schedule a meeting with your Human Resources department and tell them you want to discuss your compensation. You need to find out if the company has a compensation philosophy,  does the organization tend to pay above market, do they pay to meet market averages or do they lag the market? A lot of companies right now are opting to pay median salaries, giving raises each year that just beat cost-of-living inflation, while awarding performance with discretionary bonuses. This is a less riskier option for companies than awarding high salaries in a ever-changing economy that can render a business obsolete in 6 months. Ask HR how the company recognizes performance. You also have to consider how your company is doing overall and where your company is in its life-cycle. If your company is in start-up or decline mode, they likely do not have the capital to be throwing around on employee raises. As the old saying goes, you can’t get blood out of a turnip. Other questions that are helpful to ask are if your company assigns salary ranges to each position and where your position lies on a career track (junior, mid-level, senior-level). Also ask your friendly HR professional for his or her recommendation on how to approach a salary review or request inside of your organization. Any HR practitioner worth their salt, will be able to give you an honest response. If your HR rep is squeamish about your questions, that may be a red flag that your company has an old-school mentality around compensation transparency which still isn’t all that unusual to encounter these days. Yet, it’s good to know this about your company.

External Research.

Next, you also need to do some external market research. You need to hit the internet and find out what data is available on salary ranges for your position, think payscale.com, glassdoor.com and onetonline.org. But heed caution here and build in a margin of error. These websites usually cite self-reported data and individuals usually inflate their salaries when asked. Additionally, these sites do not take into account certain nuances that make an apples-t0-apples comparison very difficult- different geographical regions, international versus regional organizations, successful versus declining companies, and booming industries versus dying industries. You may also want to reach out to recruiters in your area or network and ask them what they see is the going rate for your position. But, proceed with caution for the same reasons stated above. Also, don’t forget the monetary value of your benefits. The company probably pays for a portion of your health insurance and matches your 401(k), even though this isn’t money deposited in the bank every 2 weeks, doesn’t mean it isn’t compensation. You need to figure out the value of your benefits as part of your total compensation to understand what you are truly being paid to do your job. Now, with this information, you can create an acceptable range of what you think your position is worth.

 

 

Once you have done all of this stuff, you are ready to put your plan into play. Tune in on Thursday for How To Ask For More Money, Part II.

 

9 Do’s and Don’ts to Completing Your Self-Evaluation

Once or twice a year many companies undergo a formal performance review process. On average, most companies ask for their employees feedback by way of a self-evaluation. Most employees exude an audible groan, give it a cursory overview and write down the same garbage year after year.

As much as I don’t totally agree with the standard annual review process or the 360 review process on principle, I totally support the notion that an employee is his or her own best advocate. And if you are given the opportunity to speak for yourself, absolutely take it seriously and follow these do’s and don’ts.

Do keep a  running diary or file  ALL YEAR ROUND of all of your work accomplishments, projects completed, client accolades, awards, educational achievements and peer praise. Also, keep notes on areas you made mistakes, encountered the issue again and improved.

Don’t blow off the process by not writing anything or digging up last year’s review and re-writing the same things. This is a signal to your boss that you are not taking the process seriously. Why would your manager bother with putting any effort into your review or development, if you do not bother yourself.

Do provide concrete and clear examples of the competencies you have demonstrated over the course of the review period. For example, if your company prizes efficiency, provide an example of the time you identified a redundant process inside a workflow, brought it to the attention of management, and how the elimination of that process resulted in less time taken to complete the process.

Don’t sell yourself short. Provide any and all examples of your work accomplishments, do not make judgement calls on the level of impact to the business or department. Your role and your performance have a purpose to the company, otherwise the job wouldn’t exist.

Do provide areas that you may have failed in or areas of improvement. You should be the first one to bring this up, not your manager. It shows you have self-awareness and that’s important.

Don’t rate yourself as a “Meets Expectations” or “Average” on all rating categories. This is called Central Tendency Bias and highlights our human propensity for avoiding extreme categories. But this is just lazy, don’t do that.

Do review your performance reviews from prior years so that you can identify areas that you have improved upon over time. If you don’t have copies, ask your manager or HR.

Don’t forget to address your work goals. The review process is about the past but should also provide some direction for the future. Be the first to write down a few goals that you would like to address with your manager during the performance discussion.

Do proof-read your self-evaluation for grammar, spelling and content before you turn it into your manager.

Imperfect HR.

Some of the most talented HR professionals I know, diversity certified and all, are also some of the most bigoted people I know. Yes, it’s true. HR professionals are racist, sexist, xenophobic, classist or any other -ist, there is. We drink, we smoke, we do drugs, we swear, we commit crimes, we talk behind people’s backs, we are unethical, we are registered democrats or republicans, we know what “Netflix and Chill” means and the list goes on.

After all, we are human. And we live in this world. And we are exposed to the same things any other human is exposed to growing up. So, just because we chose the HR profession does not mean we are perfect, or somehow immune to stereotypes or don’t act with bias.

So, to HR professionals who act like Ms. Perfect, I must say, that like most people, I want to punch you in the face. No one likes you. In fact, you are the reason why employees hate HR. Because you get all on your soapbox about enforcing all the rules, like your “you know what” doesn’t stink. Act like a human who is imperfect and is accepting of others’ imperfections. You are not in the HR profession to lord over people, or be the work police. You are there to support employees and tell them when what their doing is inappropriate because it’s illegal or against company policy, you are not there to cast ethical judgements.

So, to employees who think HR professionals are some beacon of virtue, I’m here to burst your bubble. We are not. And if most of us tell the truth, we don’t want to be. As HR Practitioners, we understand that our job is to interpret and enforce, where necessary, company rules, policies and procedures, even if we think in our heads those same rules, policies and procedures are dumb. Its the job we accepted when we chose this field.

So, maybe HR professionals are really good at operating in some sort of dissociative state where they can disconnect their personal selves and thoughts from those of their professional selves, to do their jobs really well. How else are we able to shut off the bias and make sound recruiting recommendations? How else do we push that stuff way deep down to be able to investigate someone accused of wrongdoing and make disciplinary recommendations without shattering under the weight of contradiction?

But, eventually, this dissociation will break us. It can only be a temporary mechanism. Eventually, strong HR practitioners will have to go through the process of self-actualization. Eventually it will be too exhausting to have a personal self and a professional self. The two shall have to meet. We have to embrace our flaws and accept ourselves the way we are. Good HR professionals realize they can still be unconventional without needing to shock or disturb people. They become empathetic with the plight of all humans and therefore shed those biases and stereotypes. Really, really good HR professionals also resist enculturation. They use all of their experiences to make their own decisions rather than allowing workplace culture to dictate those decisions. They become leaders, not followers.

 

Three Steps to Earning A Promotion

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Wondering how you get promoted? Tired of being looked over for advancement opportunities? Restless and bored in your current job? Want to earn more money?

Here’s 3 Steps to Earning a Promotion:

  1. Take stock of your individual performance- not against your own expectations, but the expectations of your manager, the expectations of leadership and against the company’s mission, vision and values. Self-awareness is the name of this game. Outside of the annual performance review, I doubt most of you work for an organization where your manager is engaged in active performance management. If this is the case for you, make sure you are asking your manager for performance feedback often. The next time you see him or her, ask for 10 minutes of their time to review your current job performance, areas that you are exceeding his or her expectations and areas you should be working on. Ask your manager straight up what they think you need to work on to improve your performance. This is your career, your life, stop waiting passively for someone to share what they think about your performance, go out and get the information. Ask your peers,  team members and other colleagues to give you real and honest feedback on your performance. Listen to what they have to say and take some action steps. Becoming self-aware to our own strengths and weaknesses is a difficult experience but also elevates us to a better more genuine place.
  2. Get outside of your comfort zone. Employees who stay in their safe zone and never stick their neck out to take on a challenge, even if they nail their current job to a “T”, do not get promoted. Individuals that lean into the discomfort and fear of the unknown, who take the bet with uncertainty of the outcome, get recognized as having unique qualities worthy of promotion and advancement within the organization. These folks are generally the ones chosen for individual development plans, leadership programs and succession plans- they are given first crack at new training and development opportunities. Not sure where to start? Again, sit down with your manager and ask if you can co-lead or partner up on a challenging new project. Or, identify an area of the business that is ripe for process efficiency, cost reduction or innovation. Write up a business case and present it to your manager. As an employee on the front lines you are best equipped to identify these opportunities. Any manager worth a damn will be pleased as punch to hear your idea that solves a bonafide business problem and will have no problem advocating for your cause with leadership.
  3. Finally, ask for the promotion. I’m a firm believer that an employee is ready for a promotion when they have mastered the role they are in and beginning to show aptitude and prowess for the next level up. Managers with a solid grip on his or her employees should be able to put their finger on just the right time; however, you, the employee, as your own best advocate, need to find your adult voice and ask your manager for the promotion. Be prepared to outline your position- what you have accomplished thus far, what you are ready to take on and the value that your promotion will bring to the business. If your manager is unable or unwilling to consider your promotion at that time, do not give up, ask for a training and development plan to get you to the next level. Remember, your manager owes you two things- to remove obstacles that get in the way of you being able to effectively perform your job and to provide the opportunities and resources to help you prove your worth. But YOU and you alone are responsible for earning that promotion.

If Hillary Becomes President

Hillary Rodham Clinton

My post last week, If Trump Becomes President, hypothesized the impact of a Donald administration on the work world and HR. Historically, Democratic administrations have used the courts and their own executive powers to pass final rules and regulations that keep us HR folk very busy (see: ACA, FLSA, FMLA, ADA, etc…).

I can probably sum up a Hillary Clinton presidency like this: “more of the same”. While Hillary has her own agenda and plans, she will continue the policies and programs passed by the Obama administration.

Headline: Clinton Administration Creates “Good Paying” Jobs for Americans. Like Trump, Hillary promises to create jobs for Americans. She promises “good-paying” jobs  in an effort to strengthen the middle class. Based on her platform, Hillary intends to create jobs in the public sector, in the energy and tech sectors and also by increasing American manufacturing. Extrapolating further, Clinton’s initiatives to build and reinforce the country’s infrastructure signal a potential increase in construction jobs. And yes, these will be union jobs HR folks because, as Hillary states, “When Unions are strong, America is strong”. For those HR professionals already experiencing difficulty filling those energy and tech jobs due to a lack of skilled talent, Hillary hopes to increase your talent pool by “creating a life-long learning system better tailored to 21st century jobs”.

Headline: “HillaryHealth” expands ACA, Medicaid and reduces Americans out-of-pocket health spending. Will we still refer to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” when he’s no longer in office? No? Then I propose “Hillary Health”. If Hillary plans to shore up and expand the Affordable Care Act, she will have her hands full as insurers stage an exodus from state-run exchanges. In a Hillary-led world, perhaps she will make administration less complicated both on those who need health care but also on HR professionals and Benefits Administrators.

Headline: DOL Goes Gangbusters on FLSA Enforcement. The FLSA’s new overtime rules are passed by Hillary and crew but, to throw a bone to small businesses, are implemented in a phased-in approach that also offsets the automatic indexing provision. The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division commits additional resources making overtime compliance its number #1 priority. HR departments around the country must get smarter on the FLSA and begin to document the reasons why jobs are classified exempt or non-exempt. These changes force HR professionals to strategize on compensation with a future-facing approach and use “non-traditional” workers (i.e. gig workers, part-time and job shares) to reduce company expenditures.

Headline: Within 4 years, Clinton Narrows the Pay Gap . Hillary narrows the pay gap by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. Wages and pay decisions become more transparent. All private employers are prohibited from asking job applicants about prior salary history and are prohibited from verifying wages via references. Further, HR drives employers to compliance by creating compensation philosophies, conducting annual compensation surveys, reviewing compliance annually and recommending salary adjustments based on internal equity. HR Departments create forms and documentation to back-up pay change decisions. HR Professionals support publishing salaries of employees to further transparency. HR Departments across the U.S. should boost their comp knowledge and prepare to invest in internal data analytics around discretionary and non-discretionary pay.

Headline: Paid Family and Medical Leave for All U.S.-based Employees. While Trump promises to pass paid maternity leave, this proposal seems to reinforce archaic gender stereotypes and familial roles. Hillary promises paid Family and Medical Leave for working Americans, and thus families no longer have to choose job or family member or their own health. While a triumph indeed for all Americans, it will be long overdue. Out of the 193 countries in the U.N., the United States is the only high-income, developed country without paid parental leave.

Headline: The Expansion of Federally Protected Classes. Under a Clinton administration, I highly anticipate the addition of federally protected classes and continued empowerment of the EEOC to enforce anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws. HR Professionals would be served well to brush off that harassment prevention training and deliver it annually.

Headline: Hillary Nominates Obama as Replacement for Justice Scalia. Considering his political and legal career, Obama seems like a likely nominee to replace Justice Scalia. This will get interesting. There is a current contingent of Republicans that are in favor of ticket-splitting, they will vote Clinton for President but split the ticket, voting for Republican House and Senate Candidates. Republicans hope this strategy will moderate Hillary’s “liberal agenda”. A left-leaning Court + Executive Branch could equal a very active 4 years for HR departments across the country.

Hillary has a reputation for getting shit done. So I’m not betting against her. If she is elected President, I suspect that this will be an opportunity for HR practitioners to demonstrate our value to the organization as a strategic business leader and consultant.

Got What It Takes to Hack It in HR?

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HR isn’t for everyone. And truth be told, that’s just the way I want it. I believe there a lot of HR peeps who have what it takes to elevate this profession into a more respected business partner to the corporate world. These folks have a special and rare combination of knowledge and soft skills. These are the HR professionals that can not only hack it in HR but are leading the radical HR movement.

Here are the must-have competencies of a kick-ass HR professional:

  1. The ability to forego quick wins. As in life, in HR, nothing worth having comes easy. HR Professionals must possess the ability to delay gratification and work and toil towards the accomplishments that are hard-fought by winning over every layer of bureaucracy, decision-maker and stakeholder before seeing their ideas bear fruit.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (EI). This one is a non-negotiable. HR Professionals must possess a high EI factor. EI is said to be the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others, while harnessing those emotions and applying them to tasks such as problem solving. HR may be the only side of the business that gives permission to bring emotion into the workplace. A good HR professional has to be self-aware before they can counsel and advise others.
  3. The ability to stand-up for oneself and to push back when necessary. History’s most significant accomplishments were at inception some of the most radical and rejected ideas. HR professionals must be willing to stand up for their core beliefs, own their arguments, disagree when needed and fight for what they know is best for the business, even when it’s exhausting and would be easier and safer to relent.
  4. A somewhat obnoxious ability to interject oneself in business situations . So, no one invites you to the party. Invite yourself. Crash that party. Instead of nodding and going on your merry way when your manager says “We’ll keep you posted”, take yourself out of that reactive position and get all up in that grill. Ask questions, get a better understanding of the situation and offer solutions right then and there. Make your participation in employee relations issues and business problems a requirement. Instead of your  managers waiting until something escalates, they should be seeking you out at the onset.
  5. Super strong customer service skills. The world is your customer. Everyone in the world looking for their next best job. Your peers, your managers, your employees, your pain-in-the-ass IT team. They are all your customers. Even when the situation is negative and you have to deliver a negative message, leave that customer with a “wow” experience.
  6. Business acumen. HR professionals can no longer afford not to know what line of business they are in. HR professionals need to know their businesses’ services and products. An HR professional worth their salt should be able to perform a SWOT analysis of their business without breaking a sweat.
  7. A mastery of HR knowledge. During an interview for my first real HR job, the Director of HR asked me to recite to her several tenets of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Totally legit question for an HR Coordinator job, right. HR professionals need to know not only all of the directly and indirectly applicable Federal and State labor and employment laws but also how to apply them in any situation especially on the fly.
  8. Must question the old-timey HR ways of doing things. When the nature of work was as simple as you do your job and the company pays you and the balance is equalized, Personnel Administration did a really good job at the tactical work of HR payroll processing and hiring people. If we are indeed undergoing what some people call the new Industrial Revolution, HR Professionals must get off their ass and revolutionize the profession or the profession will die.
  9. Ability to live and operate in the gray. Humans are messy. And human situations are messy. Even though laws and regulations in the past may have dictated that we treat everyone the same, consistent, equal or whatever, there is simply no way to create one-size fits all solutions. HR professionals must be able to creatively solve issues while operating within the confines of the law.

In several weeks, DisruptHR will be holding an event in Raleigh, NC. I’m super excited to network with and learn from  some of these radical HR leaders who hopefully possess some or all of the competencies above.