Long reads

Here’s how to negotiate like a pro at work

Amanda Kavanagh

Amanda Kavanagh

Contributor, Jobbio

Perfecting the art of negotiation is important in all walks of life, but particularly in the workplace. While most people sharpen their skills around annual review time, a well-honed negotiation approach can serve you well year-round. So whether you’re seeking a promotion, more flexibility, a title change, a lateral move, a change in reporting, larger budgets, more resources for your team, or a good old-fashioned salary increase, there’s plenty of tactics that can get you closer to what you want.

Know your audience

It’s difficult to secure a deal when there is no trust between the two parties. Establishing a relationship before negotiation is the ideal scenario for success, and this can feel quite natural when you are negotiating with a manager or boss you’ve worked with for some time. Remember, negotiation is not about persuading the other person, it’s about discussing your well-researched proposal and agreeing on a shared course of action. Openness, respect, and trust go a long way.

Leave a breadcrumb trail

An out-of-the-blue request catches the other person off-guard. Build up to the negotiation by gradually raising certain topics in preceding meetings and reading the room. In the weeks and months leading up to the negotiation meeting, it is a good idea to start seeding your intentions into conversations in a low-pressure way.

Such as: “At some point, I’d love for us to talk about my contributions and what I can do to get to the next level,” or “I’d like to discuss my career growth and how I can continue to develop in this role at my next performance review.” This way, you can gather information from their reaction.

Think of their pain points

Good negotiators understand the other person’s motivations, pain points, and preferences. Your proposal in the negotiation should be a solution to a problem the other person has, or it could be something that will progress the business in the right or new direction. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and give them a clear reason to say yes.

Highlight how your skills and experience leave you best-placed to drive a solution forward, and paint a clear picture of what you could achieve with the right supports/salary/team/title, or whatever it is you’re seeking.

Don’t be adversarial

A negotiation is a conversation and a process. It is not a well-rehearsed speech or list of demands. Talk with the other person to understand each other’s point of view, and work together on solutions that benefit both parties. This is what Stephen R. Covey famously encouraged us to do in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to “think win-win”. ​ Use inclusive language like “us” and “we” throughout.

Of course, present your solutions but know that they’re unlikely to be in their final form. Ask what the other person thinks, and see if they have anything to add or if there’s something in your approach that they’d change. Stanford GSB Professor Emeritus, Maggie Neale, frames it positively: “maybe together we can come up with a better solution than either one of us could ever have imagined separately.”

Don’t be single-minded

Your manager may have authority to authorise one request, but not another, so it can be helpful to negotiate multiple issues simultaneously. This allows you to make certain trades so both parties have gains. Concede on an issue that’s important to the other person, to get a win on an issue that’s important to you. Again, “think win-win”.

End on a positive note

When you are asking for anything new, it’s important to show your commitment to the organisation. You can do this in a number of ways - thank your manager for their support so far, express enthusiasm for how the company is growing and how you’d like to be a strategic part of that growth. Be engaged, optimistic and interested – this is the kind of employee a company wants to retain, develop and promote.

If your refreshed negotiation skills have you thinking bigger, check out the Finextra Job Board and see where you could progress your career further. Here are three hot career opportunities at leading companies that are being advertised right now.

Associate Director - Internal Audit, Fidelity International

A company that leads with a tagline of “We invest in you” is a good signal to ambitious people who want to develop and advance in their career. Fidelity International is an investment management services company currently advertising for an Associate Director - Internal Audit for its London office. Key responsibilities include assisting the audit director in setting the strategy for the portfolio of corporate audits, to oversee, define and deliver audit projects autonomously, to manage audit staff and to present audits to senior management.

Compliance Manager - UK, Juni

Juni is a Gothenberg-based fintech that provides e-commerce entrepreneurs with banking tools to help them grow and scale their business. This includes everything from multi-currency accounts, virtual cards and cashback. Only founded in 2020, this fast-growing start-up welcomes remote applicants from anywhere within six hours of Central European Time. Juni is seeking a Compliance Manager - UK to work closely with the head of compliance and MLRO (UK) to support the development of its compliance programme and help maintain an excellent compliance-aware culture.

Commercial Treasury Manager, Moneybox

Investment app Moneybox enables anyone to round up everyday card purchases and to invest the spare change into tracker funds. Life at Moneybox is underpinned by what it calls a “learning mentality”; its bio states that personal growth and development is very important to the business. It is currently seeking a Commercial Treasury Manager to manage the treasury team in London, to be responsible for day-to-day treasury operations, and also develop the treasury strategy, manage banking relationships and ensure the highest levels of governance.

Want to see more job opportunities? Visit the Finextra Job Board for hundreds more roles, and bookmark the link for regular check-ins.

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