How to Negotiate a Promotion With Your Boss – The Worth Project

by admin

When I started with my company, I was one of three project managers. It was a small startup and the work hours were brutal.

After 18 months one project manager left and they hadn’t yet hired her replacement. The other project manager and I were struggling with a crushing workload in an all male company. We bonded over our shared frustrations with the job and culture and soon realized that we both made $49K and hadn’t received a raise in the last two year.

The other project manager and I were both approached by a competitor looking to poach us. After some deliberation, I decided that I wasn’t ready to leave my company because I was dedicated to the growth and the vision that they had, even though I was struggling with the current situation.

The other project manager took the position, put in her notice, and I was about to be the only one left in the department. The company was actively looking to hire replacements but I knew that there would be a few months where I was the only person handling the work load of three people.

Sensing my frustration (and stress) my boss invited me out for happy hour drinks one evening. I knew that he would ask me how I felt about the current situation and I wanted to come prepared.

How did you approach the promotion negotiation with your boss?

I didn’t have a lot of time to prep for drinks, but I knew that I wanted to be brutally honest with my manager, without having it be an unproductive venting session.

By putting myself in his position, I realized that he was terrified of losing me. If I left, there would be no project managers, which is a problem for a startup with aggressive growth goals.

“Having been approached by recruiters, I knew I was marketable and I was in a position to ask for something big. I just needed to be clear and firm with what I wanted.”

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How did you discuss a promotion with your boss?

Once we sat down he kicked off our talk by asking how I was doing. I felt like I had been pushed to a point and I couldn’t hold back anymore. My feedback was blunt.

I told my manager that the same company had approached me but I wanted to be a loyal employee. I truly believed in the vision of the company. Even though I wanted to stay, the situation right now wasn’t going to work. I had been loyal to them and now I needed them to be loyal to me.

Without hesitation I said that I wanted a raise to $70K and 1K in shares. I wanted to have a stake in the growth of the company. I also told him that I wanted to hire the two replacements and run the project management department as it grew.

The raise was bold – I was asking for a 43% increase. But I knew I deserved it and I knew that they needed me more than I needed them.

He didn’t push back at all and said he would discuss it with the CEO.

Did your boss agree to the promotion?

My boss came back a few days later with my raise. They had given me more than what I asked for. He offered me a raise to $75K, the shares I had asked for, and a promotion to completely build and run the project management department.

I honestly couldn’t believe it. They didn’t even question what I was asking for and they came back with more. I felt like I had really been heard and I was valued.

What promotion negotation advice do you have for others?

Be vocal about what you want

I could have been less direct and hoped that they gave me a raise or some other sort of bonus. I could have used the time with my manager to vent and talk about all of the things that I hated. But I used this time strategically.

A raise is what I wanted. A big one. And I didn’t want to waste this moment.

Use a rationale the other person can appreciate

I dropped “loyalty” into the conversation as much as I possibly could. Working for a tech startup where turnover is high, I knew that loyalty was something the management team deeply valued.

I didn’t want them to see me as someone who just wants to make a quick buck and jump to a new job. Signaling to them that I was in this journey with them meant I was part of the team.

That was a more compelling argument than just focusing on how great I was or the current state of our department. They appreciate loyalty even more than talent. Knowing that helped me present my ask in the strongest way possible.

Need to a little help taking the next steps to negotiate with your boss?

Did you know that negotiating your salary one time can add over a million dollars to your earnings over the course of your career?

That’s kind of a big deal. And so is the confidence you get from knowing that you can ask for and get what you want and need in your career.

My negotiation guide gives you the negotation framework you need to persuasively make that ask. We’re not talking negotiation theory that works in a classroom but not in an office. This is a simple framework that gives you the confidence to use your own voice and get what you need: research. prep. ask. 

Fill out the form below and I will send you the kind of email that makes your day. It will have the link to download my negotiation guide so you can start earning more money. Get the salary you deserve, fill out the form below.

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