“What would you do if you weren't afraid?” Facebook COO Sheryl Samberg asks us in her leadership memoir Lean In. Now, that’s a question that’ll keep you up at night. While this question most certainly applies to our personal life (YOLO- am I right?), we’re talkin’ about how this applies to achieving a fulfilling career and negotiating for what you want.
First off, we recognize that everyone aspires for a different work/life balance and hold different values to salary, work hours, responsibility, etc. But the same rules apply when it comes to finding fulfilment in your career. And it always starts with speaking-up.
1) Ask for Feedback: Before you ask your boss for more. Speak honestly and seek feedback from your co-workers and management. You should understand where your strengths and weaknesses are. Without feedback your growth is limited. Be transparent in your own personal goals. That being said, there is always a fine line between being threateningly ambitious; be clear that you are interested in improving to achieve better results and build a career in your industry. Make your case on why your manager or co-workers should advocate and root for you.
2) Know your Value: What are you looking for? Do you want more authority? Higher pay? More work/life balance? But before you ask, take an honest look at your contributions to your employer and how you’re viewed by your co-workers and your boss. If your boss isn’t involving you in projects you are interested in, or being a mentor to you and your career goals, you might want to start looking elsewhere, as it is not likely you’ll have much leverage for negotiation. Alternatively, if you’re unsure of what your next steps are to achieve what you are looking for- talk to your boss and find out what it would take to get what you want.
3) The Conversation: Now, you’ve asked for feedback and you are clear on what you want. Begin by putting a spotlight on everything you have accomplished on the table. Be proud (yet modest) of your successes and use co-worker and manager testimonials of your work to support your statements. Studies have shown that the perception of women in negotiations is different than a male in a similar position. In these situations, by suggesting that someone more senior encouraged a discussion can act as buffer and ease the awkwardness of making any request – monetary or personal. Just remember to push yourself and to take that extra step (or that meeting) even if it’s scary. Who knows what could happen next?