The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How can you be a good negotiator? is written by Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group.
The goal of any negotiation is to get something you want. In the professional world, this can mean asking for things like a raise, increased responsibilities, or a more flexible work schedule. However, in order for this type of negotiation to be successful, you must be able to clearly demonstrate how the proposal will not only benefit you but, more importantly, how it will benefit the company as a whole.
You must utilize your best judgment and assess whether what you’re asking for is realistic based on your performance to date and the current health of the company. For example, you first want to ensure your hard work warrants a raise or increased responsibilities. If you don’t feel like you can justify this, you’ll want to save this conversation for a time when you can. Similarly, if you know your company is downsizing or having financial difficulties, you may want to wait before asking for additional benefits.
If you come to the conclusion that the time is right for your request, start the negotiation process by asking for a meeting with your manager. When arranging the meeting, explicitly state that you would like to discuss your career growth and role with the company. This will help ensure your supervisor feels prepared for your meeting and is equipped with the tools they need to adequately discuss your eventual request.
Before the meeting, research your request. Whether you’re asking to work from home, receive a pay raise or have a training program paid for, you should go in armed with evidence to back up your request. Conduct research on Glassdoor or ask your peers within your industry. This will allow you to feel more comfortable during the negotiation and provide you with evidence to support your request if you receive pushback from your employer.
Next, think about how you’re going to frame the request. Keep in mind that it is vital for you to clearly communicate how your request is mutually beneficial for both you and the company. For example, if you’re asking for a training course to be paid for, you should be able to directly speak to how the skills you will acquire will make you more effective in your current role or allow you to take on more responsibility.
A manager may or may not be receptive to your idea, but you should never walk away from a negotiation completely empty-handed. If you receive a simple ‘no’, it’s reasonable to inquire a little further. Ask what you can specifically do to improve your performance and maximize the chance of getting what you want at a later date. And remember to schedule a follow-up meeting to revisit your request in a few weeks or months where you and your manager can have an open conversation about logical next steps.