I’m sure you’d like to think that your instinct, gut, quick wit, or Jedi mind tricks make you the ultimate closer when it comes to a negotiation. Many of us have an opportunity during the year to review our performance with our employer (If you haven’t had a performance review in over a year it’s time to request one). Within this annual conversation it’s up to you to quantify the ways you’ve added value beyond the norm. Traditional ways to demonstrate this can be through large projects, collaborative efforts across departments, or other high profile measurable data points. Nonetheless, natural interactions within your company’s culture can also pay dividends if you look at them holistically.
Some pride themselves on being gladiators and warriors in the workplace who can handle any challenge. Others are reliable and ready to take on an extra shift, donate a weekend, or sacrifice their name on a PowerPoint to be a team player. Is this you? Perhaps one should tame their “yes reflex” to ponder a few things for the long term health of their career. Many things are presented to employees on a daily basis based on the skills they bring to the table. However, it’s wise to consider a few things before you respond with a hearty “yes.”
Is my response a forgone conclusion – a rubber stamp, lame duck – response?
How does this request bring quantifiable value to me or my company?
Do I feel marginalized by this request?
Have my own requests been favorably met?
Does this offer any leverage in my favor?
By going through a brief self-assessment along these lines you can quickly determine if saying yes can contribute to your negotiation at a later date.
Excel at what you’re known to be good at.
Be the face of optimism despite what coworkers may display.
Document the contributions you’ve made outside of the normal flow.
Take a moment to process the request before your response (10-15 minutes at least).
So what about my negotiations?
As Keith Wyche stated in Good Is Not Enough: “To be able to exceed performance expectations, you need to have a clear understanding of what they are.” He goes on later to state, “If these expectations are not documented and understood up front, employees leave themselves vulnerable to subjective observations of their management.”
In short, your rapid response to small tasks here and there can lead to tactical career wins when documented properly. Understanding where your employer stands in regards to performance objectives can allow you to respectfully decline while not causing disruption to the culture of your workplace.
Be productive, be open, and be great!
Wyche, Keith R. Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals. New York: Portfolio, 2008.