Let’s talk about money!

It’s never easy discussing how you can get more money from your manager, and we’ve all been in situations where we want to negotiate our salaries or ask for a promotion. However, for many of us, we find these conversations uncomfortable and it often is considered a taboo topic. Not to forget the misconceptions around talking about money, being considered a rude subject to talk about or even unladylike for women.

At DevelopHer we decided to break this taboo and hosted an event on the 19th June to encourage people to say “Let’s talk about money!”. We were pleased to be joined with Stefanie Sword-Williams, Founder of F*ck being humble who moderated a fantastic panel with Zoe Bayliss Wong, Director at Depop, Ben Martin, Senior Insights Director at One Four Zero and Josh Michielsen, Senior Software Engineer at Conde Nast International.

We were overwhelmed by the turnout and note taking during the event, with our members expressing their uneasiness about this topic. “I just don’t know how to ask for a pay rise”; “It would feel like begging if I ask for more money”; “I am worried how I would come across”.

The bottom line is that if we don’t ask for what we deserve, we would end up feeling under-valued, demotivated and unappreciated. But what would be the best way of doing it, and when would be the best time to request it in order to get the outcome that we are looking for? The evening at the “Let’s talk about money” event was packed with tips from our panellists, and here are some of the top ones:

  1. Prepare for the conversation – Always keep a record of your achievements, the value you have added and the impact you have made in the organisation. Remembering every achievement can be difficult, so keep a record once a week on your successes to help you remind you later. Zoe suggested creating an anonymous 360 feedback on Google forms and sending it your colleagues for feedback on ‘What are my strengths?’, ‘What should I be doing differently’ & ‘Where can I improve?’. The positive feedback on your strengths can help support your case on what you’ve succeeded and the value you bring to the company. Make sure that you have your achievements all prepared before the meeting, so you can present them to your boss with confidence.

  2. Pick the right moment – It has to be the right moment for you and your boss too. You need to feel good about having that conversation so make sure you practice beforehand. Ben mentioned the importance of knowing when your company is doing well, as asking for more money at difficult times for the business will only result in receiving a disappointing response. Likewise, asking your boss during a stressful time for them may result in them not giving you the attention you want for this conversation. Don’t have this conversation as part of your weekly catch up, set a calendar invite to specifically talk about your performance so your boss is also prepared for the meeting.

  3. Do your research – It is essential that you know how much you are asking for. When you set a target against how much you are asking for, it becomes easier to have a conversation about it. Josh mentioned websites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn are great sources for checking salaries for your skillset. He also mentioned to think about the whole employment package, not just the salary e.g. are you willing to take a small salary cut to save a 1 hour commute with a new job? Quantifying these things can help make job offers more comparable.

  4. Be Objective – Bringing emotions into a conversation that you already find difficult would make it even more uncomfortable. So prepare and practice to not get emotional. Zoe mentioned focusing your conversation on “what I think is fair” as opposed to “what I deserve!”. Keep your language fact driven, graceful and objective. Identify the moments where you’ve increased X metric or saved the company this amount of money or time. Have your job description ready and show how you have gone beyond, show the facts.

  5. Give yourself time – Don’t react there and then if the conversation doesn’t go as you had in mind. Give yourself time to reflect, get over the emotions and decide what response would serve you best. It would be OK to go back and discuss it with your boss further to show that you are unhappy about the outcome however, when doing so make sure that you are in a good state of mind. Stefanie also reminded us that it’s very easy to read a ‘F*ck you’ expression or body language – be careful of your facial expressions when you hear something you don’t want.

  6. Have a plan B – Think about what you would do if your request for more money gets rejected. Ben suggests asking your manager what you need to do to get to the next level, and make notes so you have it written down so you don’t forget once you’ve had the conversation. Josh also mentioned to get in the habit of using ‘CYA – cover your arse’ and make sure you get everything in writing, so your conversations don’t end up being unpromised words.

    If you find your existing role doesn’t give you the desired skill sets you want to get promoted, Stef suggested creating a solution for yourself first e.g. build a team outside your role to show strong leadership skills. Otherwise start looking at your exit plan and ask yourself questions: why stay with the organisation if you are not getting what you deserve? Why not find another job and leave? Maybe you are currently gaining a good set of skills and experience that would benefit you in your next job, which are worth staying for. Or you just decide to stay because it’s personally not the right time to move. Knowing the “whys” would help you identify your reasons and plan accordingly.

Thank you to our speaker panelists on the night for all your insights. We also want to say a huge thank you to Thread for being a fantastic partner and hosting us for the evening.

If you’d like to attend more events like this in the future, sign up to our DevelopHer mailing list where you get first access to our next events.

Written by Marjan Parto Hamed, DevelopHer.

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