Learning to Negotiate

For all my learning and insights into leadership, I have a confession:

I’ve never negotiated my salary.  

Yep, you read that correctly. I’ve never asked for more money upon receiving a job offer.  I’ve never asked for more money upon receiving a promotion.  I’ve never asked for more money during a yearly review.  I’ve never negotiated my salary.

Now logically, I know this is crazy.  I’ve hired people – I expect them to come back with a counter offer.  I’ve promoted people – I expect to have a salary discussion.  I’ve delivered annual reviews/raises – I expect to have a salary discussion.  I’ve been part of the leadership team that analyzes pay salary data to ensure we are paying people appropriately for their skills.  I’ve been part of the leadership team that analyzed salaries to ensure we didn’t have any discrepancies/gaps.  Yet, despite my ability to easily apply this logic to everyone else, I’ve always been unable to do this for myself.

First job out of college – took the offer as is.  Second job – took the offer as is.  Numerous people attempted to mentor me on the absurdity of this pattern. Third job – asked for banked vacation days only.  Fourth job – asked for banked vacation days only.  Numerous people attempted to mentor me on the progress of this step but the absurdity of this as well.  Only, I didn’t listen.  The pattern remained and instead I would receive “equity adjustments” over the years to help fix the issue I was helping to create (others were asking for raises/negotiating…I wasn’t – eventually that will become a big enough gap for leadership to address).

For years, I dismissed really dealing with this because I would state something like “People will pay fairly.” or “Money is not a motivator for me.” Both of these are true, but they were simply scapegoats for the real issue.  I enjoyed being the person that people underestimated and consistently over delivered.  If I asked for more money, I would be drawing attention to myself.  Or worse, they will rescind the offer or take back the promotion. This seemed risky and unnecessary especially when you take the raise and divide it by 12 months, 2 check a month and after taxes.  Why make a fuss?

Well, in my position at Agile For All, I don’t negotiate a salary with my company but I do have to negotiate my rate with clients.  I was finally forced to start learning how to do this but with each step the “icky” feeling decreases.  With each time, I learn my value more and more.  With each time, I apply to myself what I apply to others.  With each time, I realize my fears were unfounded and just holding me back. Yet, I’m not going to lie…I still dread negotiation.

What’s something you don’t apply yourself as a leader? 

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