ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Like so many others at year's end, an employee we will call "Nichole" for purposes of this article, was hoping for a solid raise in January. She was hopeful, too, that the promotion she'd sought for two years would finally now come through. For six years she'd led the marketing team of the nation's third-largest office furniture manufacturer. The past year had been a good one from the marketing perspective: two new product lines had been successfully launched, and strategic partnerships had been formed with three major architectural-design firms. Though overall sales hadn't yet taken off, expectations were high.
Unfortunately, Nichole wasn't the best at asking for things like raises and promotions. By both her nature and upbringing, she viewed asking for things for herself as unseemly. She sure didn't look forward to asking, and dreaded even more being turned down. Though she knew that "If you don't ask, you don't get," she never asked and rarely "got." Instead, she simply waited and hoped to be recognized and rewarded.
In our initial consultation, we explained to Nichole something we call "Triggers of Value." Simply put, "Triggers of Value" is a process that helps you improve your chances of gaining a raise or promotion, or both. Like all good ideas, it's based in common sense.
We suggested to Nichole that she develop three sets of data to be used in her "Triggers of Value" memo: (a) Her scorecard of results achieved for the past year or two; (b) Her expectations of likely positive results for next year; and (c) How these results would likely enhance her superiors' own interests, that is, their "Revenues," their "Relations," and their "Reputations."
Nichole gathered her data into her "Triggers of Value" memo. It was fairly simple, reading something like this: (a) Over this past year (or two), this is what I've achieved; it represents value to you, that is, it enhances your Revenues, Relations and Reputation. This "Value" should be sufficient to "Trigger" my requested raise and promotion. (b) These are the results my present efforts will bring about next year; together with my achievements in prior years, they represent even greater value to you. Together, all of this "Value" surely "Triggers" my raise and promotion. (c) If these do not justify my raise and promotion, is there any "Value" I can bring about in the future that will "Trigger" the raise and promotion I seek?
Nichole's "Triggers of Value" pitch was simple and effective, and partly successful. It got her the raise she wanted, but not the promotion. However, that did come, later in the year, when the position she sought opened up. Her "Triggers of Value" pitch worked in another way she never imagined: going forward, it got her to focus her thoughts and efforts on achieving value, and raising the perception of value, to those who have the power to make the decisions affecting her career. After decades in business, this marketing pro came to understand that her marketing of herself and her value are important, as well.
LESSON TO LEARN: Raises and promotions are given for three reasons: (a) to retain those who have shown they've achieved significant value; (b) to motivate by reward those who can achieve significant value in the future; and (c) to place those who create significant value into positions where they can create even greater value. It's less a matter of a boss's saying to himself "who should I raise/promote?" but more a matter of "Who do I need to retain, motivate, and give more authority to for my own interests?"
Complaining, threatening to quit, or even offering logic won't get you ahead as effectively as will appealing to your employer's business interests.
"Triggers of Value" presents a clearer way for you to raise in your own mind, and in your boss's mind, what you have done, what you are doing, and what you can do, to enhance his or her business interests. That's what determines raises and promotions. "Triggers of Value" isn't a "silver bullet," and it isn't the only thing you can do in all circumstances. But it is the most direct and effective means available to you.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: When seeking a raise or promotion, ask yourself, "If I was my boss, why would I give that extra money and that extra authority to someone?" To the extent you can show that you are of sufficient value to (a) retain, (b) motivate and reward, and (c) be placed in a position to achieve even greater value, you have done most of what can be done.
At the very least, preparing a "Triggers of Value" memo will focus your efforts in a positive, professional, persuasive way, for it addresses the critical "Three Business Interests" of those whose decisions can make or break your career. It's along these lines that you'll find your greatest leverage:
(a) Over this past year (or two), this is what I've achieved; it represents value to you, that is, it enhances your Revenues, Relations and Reputation. This "Value" should be sufficient to "Trigger" my requested raise and promotion.
(b) These are the results my present efforts will bring about next year; together with my achievements in prior years, they represent even greater value to you. Together, all of this "Value" surely "Triggers" my requested raise and promotion.
(c) If these do not justify a raise and promotion, is there any "Value" I can bring about in the future that will "Trigger" the raise and promotion I seek?
If you don't ask, you won't get. "Amateurs hope. Professionals work." If a raise or promotion is your goal, simply get to work on a "Triggers of Value" memo.
Alan L. Sklover, Founding Member of Sklover & Donath, LLC and Founder of Sklover Working Wisdom, empowers employees worldwide to stand up for themselves at work. From his offices in New York City's Rockefeller Center, Alan has devoted his 28 years of professional life to counseling and representing employees worldwide on how to negotiate and navigate for job security and career success. Mr. Sklover's practice concentration is in the negotiation of senior executive employment, compensation and severance agreements, and in counseling senior executives in career navigation. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™" at http://skloverworkingwisdom.com.