Anybody that knows me personally or professionally knows that I’m, well for lack of a better word—confrontational. I rather like to think that I’m especially communicative; it has a more positive connotation. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that you don’t get what you don’t ask for (or however it goes), and this particularly applies in the work place. However, in order to get what you want and also maintain the respect of your manager, there is a right way, and a wrong way…
As a recruiter, I talk to a lot of people about their past and present jobs, why they left or why they’re looking for a career move. If you dislike your job simply because you’re in the wrong industry, that’s something that’s hard to reconcile through a conversation with your manager and that’s a whole different entry altogether. But, if you’re unhappy because you don’t feel like you’re getting the credit you deserve, being paid adequately, being properly managed, or you’re gunning for a promotion, unless your manager is a mind reader, the only way you will get what you want is if you ASK for it!
For many people, these difficult conversations cause a lot of anxiety, but if you organize your thoughts and have reasonable requests, it’s a conversation anybody can have. I’ve always been a naturally argumentative person, but the point when I became an effective communicator was when I stopped arguing and started to win others over to my way of thinking. I wish I came up with that on my own, but like most of my good ideas, I read it in a book: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you don’t have the 80 pages in you, of course it’s summarized all over the internet. Here are my favorite techniques to win people over:
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Let the other person do a great deal of the talking and feel the idea is their own.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view; do this by showing respect for the other’s opinions and never tell them they’re wrong.
- If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
So how do you prepare for this conversation? Though you think a lot is expected of you, chances are more is expected from your manager. So, be thoughtful to their time and set a meeting; if you take it seriously they will take it seriously. Have an outline of your thoughts and have an objective. Nobody likes to hear excuses, so if you’re not meeting your goals and asking for a raise how will you prove you deserve one? Just because it’s your annual review doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a raise, so in your outline show quantifiable examples of where you’ve exceeded expectations and recognize your areas for improvement.
Often people will up and quit their jobs because they’re not happy with management, when in actuality all they needed to do was communicate what they were lacking. That’s not to say this conversation will always get you what you want, but the worst that could happen is they will say “no.” Even still, by having this conversation your manager will have an understanding for where you want to go and can give you the tools to get you there. Your manager wants you to succeed, and they want you to find growth and opportunity in the company; your success is a direct reflection of their own.