How to ask your boss for what you want?

Take a collaborative approach and build a bridge to your boss’s concerns

Successful negotiation is not just about being willing to ask for what you want, but approaching your “ask” strategically

Successful negotiation is not just about being willing to ask for what you want, but approaching your “ask” strategically

 
promotion

Vulnerable

career progression

Whether you seek more money, higher status, increased visibility, additional resources or more time off, you likely won’t get it if you don’t specifically ask your boss for it.

Here are a few tips on actually having that conversation with your boss.

– Avoid assumptions by asking the right questions. Successful negotiation is not just about being willing to ask for what you want, but approaching your “ask” strategically.

A poor strategy is approaching negotiations one-dimensionally, focusing only on your own desired outcomes. Instead, you should take a collaborative approach, building a clear bridge between your boss’s concerns and your request.

The best way to do this is to prepare to pose a few open questions that explore your boss’s view of the world.

When formulating these questions, be curious about how to make your request a win-win.

– Gather context through open dialogue. Getting the lay of the land directly from your manager before asking for what you want can help you formulate a better strategy. Initiate an open dialogue tailored to the specific points you plan to soon negotiate.

For example, if you’re targeting a promotion, you might ask something like “Now that I’ve been in this role for two years, what actions would it take to advance to the next level?”

– Use “what if” responses. One way to build on your boss’s responses during the open dialogue stage is to have some “what if” responses ready to go. “What if” responses give you a way to further the conversation by suggesting specific actions that you might take when your boss makes a general suggestion.

For example, “What if I take the lead in sharing our communications strategy with the sales team?”

– Let the conversation evolve. Even if you execute a perfect ask, there may be circumstances beyond your control that cause your boss to reject your request.

Don’t become so fixated on achieving your ultimate goal that you leave possible chips on the table. Keep an eye out for viable backup plans that emerge as the conversation unfolds.

Even if you accept a Plan B as a result of your current negotiation with your boss, that’s no reason to give up completely on what you really want.

If your manager denies your request the first time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that “no” is the final answer.

While you may not get what you want every time, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. – (Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015) Rebecca Shambaugh is an internationally recognised leadership expert, author and keynote speaker

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