If I got a fiver for every time I heard a woman say “My results should speak for themselves – I should get rewarded based on how well I’m doing”…I’d have retired at a shockingly young age.
Are you one of the women who could have been contributing to my early retirement on this thinking? Or are you one of the 3.7%* who habitually give employers the opportunity to stop their talent boosting their competitors performance, by asking for an improvement in their package?
Here’s a sobering question – when did you last ask for a pay rise? Really, think about it. How long ago did you actually ask for more money? Not just pitch up and attend an appraisal with all your homework showing your multitude of development areas balanced by a token strength. In honesty, have you asked at all in the last 5 years?
And in all of that time politely waiting to be spotted and rewarded for your diligent contribution, do you think the boys (your male colleagues) have been doing the same thing?
You are not allowed, at this point, to state the defense for the organisation – “it’s not a good time because of the economy…cut backs… the market…the full moon….there’s an ‘r’ or an ‘a’ or an ‘e’ in the month”. Nor are you allowed to reel off the standard list of personal reasons – “I’m not quite ready yet…when I’ve got / done / achieved / experienced x,y and z then it’ll be different”.
Do you think or say these things or something along these lines? And do you really believe these reasons are valid?
The fact is that women individually carry the burden of contemporary perception of the role and value of their gender in society and in the workplace. (A perception built throughout history, which remains robustly intact despite a few decades of equality legislation in the west). The impact is that we feel, subconsciously, worth less than our male counter-parts. We often feel grateful for the job we’ve got and the pay that we are given. Many women say to me, “I”m just waiting to be found out, as I feel like a fraud”. The implication, in our minds, is that if we go and ask for a pay rise we are asking to be told that we’re actually as rubbish as we thought,and not only are we not getting a pay rise, but that we should get our coat instead, and do the organisation a favour by leaving!!!
So, we don’t ask. But we must.
You must ask. You must make it a habit. You must know your market value and be clear on alternative employers. You must separate your capability as a unique individual (who happens to be a woman) from this sense of lesser-value that hangs above us, inside us and around us.This is far,far, far from easy, for deeply-seated psychological reasons. But be very clear – these reasons are not connected with your capability, your value or your potential. By definition, as psychological reasons, they are all in the mind!
So, here’s my top tip to ease your way into this new habit…
…START SMALL & SAFE
Build up your confidence and a body of evidence that proves it’s OK to ask by starting with small requests. Re-frame the conversation – you are giving your employer opportunities to continue to benefit from your talent. They’d hate to lose you**
Ask to go on a course that hadn’t been planned into the budget; ask for a piece of software to support your role; ask to lead a project. Notice what the result is, how the request was received and the truth about how difficult it wasn’t in reality.What can you learn from that small, safe experience? And, what does that inspire you to do as the next step up?
Warning: do not start the conversation with “I know it might be a bad time but….”. Leave the reasons why not to the person making the decision (they won’t be as creative as you… and they may have been waiting for you to speak up for so long that they’d almost lost the will to live!)
In fact, women I interviewed in the creation of The Women’s Sat Nav to Success™ told me wonderful stories of responses to finally asking for assignments or promotions, along the lines of “thank God, we thought you’d never ask and we’d have had to settle for someone else [less]”.
And, the most common feedback from our Fast Start Seminars is the news of promotions, pay rises and sponsorships – and within days and weeks of the event!
So, go and ask. Tomorrow. Then write and let me know about your successes
*estimated percentage based on the proportion of women who say they have asked for a pay rise in the last 5 years when asked this question during our Women’s Sat Nav to Success™ Fast Start Seminars.
**A note to employers: often the first time you’ll find out that a female employee wanted a pay rise is in her exit interview. If she is waiting to be offered a [good] pay rise and its not forthcoming, she wont ask, she’ll become discontented and then leave.