Your guide to winning at work
What you need to know to take your career to the next level.
How to get to “yes” Got turned down for a promotion? Here’s how to overcome that hurdle.
The current Lean In culture has been good for a lot of things: inspiring women to be more proactive at work and motivating us to negotiate and to fight for heftier salaries. And the books it all began with, including Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (Ebury Publishing; R211) and The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay (Harpercollins; R183), encourage us to tackle the self-doubt that often holds us back from asking for the promotion or increase we truly deserve. The take-away for many women: if they think and act more confidently, they’ll win better titles and fatter pay cheques.
On the surface, this message is not bad. But the buzz has psyched us up to ask for better opportunities – without preparing us for the possibility that the request may be denied.
“This generation of young professionals tends to overvalue themselves at times,” says Professor Paul White, co-author of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace (Northfield
Publishing; R329). “Risking rejection isn’t bad, but steel yourself in case things don’t go your way.”
Here’s how to handle two common outcomes that are less than ideal. Understand and prepare for these possibilities and you’ll have a better shot at turning the situation around in your favour. And the next time you make a case for yourself, the answer is more likely to be a resounding yes.
“There’s no money in The budget”
You might hear this and think, ‘I wasn’t born yesterday. The recession ended years ago!’ But increase requests are rarely simple open-and-shut cases. When you ask your boss for money, that’s just the first move up the chain of command. “What I hear from managers, especially when they’re dealing with someone who is a really strong performer, is that they’re frustrated because their hands are simply tied,” says consultant Frank
Guglielmo. If you’re told a promotion or a raise isn’t fiscally possible, redirect the conversation by adding that you don’t expect results immediately. Say, “I understand there isn’t a lot you can do today. What can happen over time and what can I do to make it happen?” This way, you not only receive valuable feedback and guidance, but you can also gauge whether a promotion or raise will ever be in the cards.
“We don’t Think you’re ready”
There’s also the possibility that your boss doesn’t think you’ve earned a bigger slice of the pie yet. When that’s the verdict, the best thing to do is listen, because your perception of yourself isn’t matching up with the perception your boss has of you, says HR expert Jaime Klein. Schedule a check-in after six months and, in the meantime, ask for real-time feedback. Keep the lines of communication open, so the next time you speak you’ll be on the same page.