Stand Up For Yourself

I’ve written before about constantly negotiating your own role. Another way to look at those negotiations is that you are constantly making a deliberate effort to stand up for yourself. It is easy to let an employer slowly change your role in ways that degrade your experience, over time turning what started as a good job into a job you may not even want anymore. You fix this by standing up for yourself at every point.

  1. First, as has been stated elsewhere, know your own needs and wants.
  2. Secondly, keep score. I don’t mean you should be constantly looking for ways to feel that you have been treated unfairly, I mean you should lay out all kinds of metrics about your role, and as changes come in, evaluate whether they have changed. 

Examples of metrics about your role:

  • Salary
  • Number of direct reports
  • Number of middle managers between yourself and the CEO
  • Number and scale of Products supported
  • % of time you are autonomous
  • % of time spent in meetings vs. doing work you enjoy.
  • “Startup” perks – snacks, games, team outings, etc.
  • Training budget
  • Benefits – specific financial impact of your insurance, 401K, etc.

It is important to note that some of these metrics are double-edged swords. If you take on more products, or take on more direct reports, that looks good on your resume, but also is increased responsibility, which increases stress. In these cases, it is a negative when negotiating for your work environment. You need to balance it out with a positive, which is frequently a salary increase. 

The most common complaint I hear as people progress in their career is that they were given more work and more responsibility without a promotion or raise. Again, you are not looking to be a difficult employee – you don’t need a raise or promotion every time something small changes. But you do need to react to patterns. Yearly reviews are a great time to say, “I’ve taken on so much more in the past 6-12 months, I believe it is time for my compensation and title to match my growth.”

I also believe “keeping score” makes sense because it balances the negotiations. If you cannot lay out exactly what that growth is, as well as any negative changes over the course of the year, it is easy for your boss to just hand out a review, tell you what raise you get, while you just say, “Oh, ok.”

Be confident. Know what you have achieved. Document it. Send that documentation to you boss before promotions are decided, and be sure they know that you know how valuable are to the team and the company. 

As with everything, there is a balance to this. Don’t be so pushy that you become a problem. The negotiation for an improved work experience and improved compensation should be approached gently, and when needed, but should not be the most common interaction you have with your boss.