So, organize your office, record a welcoming and authoritative voice mail greeting, and take the few extra seconds needed to end your phone calls gracefully. Remember, it’s easy to make it look hard. What’s hard is to make it look easy.
The trouble is that when we neglect to acknowledge others’ contributions, we send a message to those in charge that we’re not ready to be part of a team—and you don’t get to the executive level without understanding the importance of being part of a team.
Consequently, during these one hundred days, actively cultivate the habit of thanking others for their ideas and their work, and make a point of telling those in charge about their achievements.
For example, perhaps your office has a policy of dress down Fridays, and this is something you and your contemporaries look forward to. That said, you’ve noticed senior management doesn’t take advantage of this. Given that, I’d recommend you abandon casual Friday, too. The visual reassurance that you have picked up on, and are willing to adhere to, this unspoken policy will go a long way toward their feeling confident you’re ready to become part of the team.
For instance, perhaps you find yourself on the elevator with your CEO a few mornings a week. Rather than simply standing face-forward and observing the control panel, I recommend taking this chance to greet him or her. I’m not asking you to be effusive—a simple “Good morning,” coupled with a smile, is often as much as is needed—but I am asking you to speak up.
What’s the easiest way to provide motivation and inspiration for your team? Praise them. Again, I’m not asking you to be effusive. It can be as simple as, “Good work today,” as they leave the meeting. I think, however, that you’ll be surprised at the difference this makes in their willingness to go the extra mile—and their improved performance will only reflect well on you.
Given this, I recommend:
• Making an explicit appointment to discuss your request.
• Providing concrete examples of how you have contributed to the firm’s success.
• Having a specific salary figure/title in mind.
• Most importantly, however, I recommend recognizing that, more often than not, “no” is just information—not a reflection on your value to the firm. In fact, it’s more likely a reflection on the history of the position, or the current balance sheet of the company.
Why is this important? Because making requests with this in mind will help you remain relaxed throughout the conversation. And when you’re at ease it’s easier to roll with the punches—to think strategically and convey confidence and humor, essential elements in the negotiation process.
- Tagging your request onto another conversation—catching your boss off-guard won’t endear you to him or her.
- Making the request based on promotions/raises received by others at your level; i.e., “I know Bob just got X and I was wondering if I could, too.”
- Not having a specific number/title in mind. If you don’t know what you want, you could lowball yourself in the pressure of the moment.
- Finally, failing to recognize that no is just information can keep you from thinking strategically, and strategy is crucial to negotiation. Given this—should “no” be the first reaction you get—I strongly recommend asking if your terms can be revisited in another one hundred days.
The trouble with this is, it rarely goes unnoticed. Placating you might have to become the focus of the meeting, or your behavior could become fodder for post-game, water cooler gossip.
With this in mind, then, take care to vent your frustrations and resentments in such a way that there’s no chance of their harming your future. There’s truth to the saying: you may have lost the battle, but you can still win the war.