Negotiating a pay rise can be incredibly nerve-wracking. So much so that many practice managers say it’s the hardest thing they’ll do in their role. Many are fine negotiating on behalf of their staff, but when it comes to asking for themselves they encounter a mental roadblock.
So, to help you on your way to more money, here are some top tips, gathered from the Practice Index Forum (there are lots of threads on the topic) and various HR studies on the subject.
Build positive comparisons
If you know a previous PM was paid more than you, address the problem by building a positive comparison that you can take to a partner.
One contributor to the Forum – read the full thread here – explained: “I showed how the practice was performing when I started and how it was performing currently due to my management (turnover increased by 30%, reduced outstanding debts by 50%, team worked better together, brought in new tech to improve standards etc).
“By diplomatically evidencing exactly what I had achieved I got the pay rise I wanted and deserved. I would suggest you do the same and really plan what you want to say (what you feel would be a reflective bonus and why – they may think that because everyone else received that figure that you feel this was reflective for you as well). I also watched some videos online about asking for a pay rise to give me confidence as it’s not the easiest and most comfortable conversation!”
Arm yourself with stats
There are plenty of salary surveys to refer to when negotiating a rise. If you’re receiving less than others doing the same job, use those stats to your advantage.
One PM told us: “I used a survey and then put a business case to my partners regarding my salary as it hadn’t had an increased for about eight years – and compared it to the standard rates of pay. They gave me a 9% pay rise which put me into the bracket of pay that I should be in
“It’s an emotive subject and I found having the business case helped me to just be professional about a rise I felt I was due.”
Make the first offer
Conventional wisdom is that you should wait for the other party to make the initial offer in order to get more information to act on.
However, HR experts suggest it can be much better to make the first offer because you get to set the “anchor”, the figure that affects the trajectory of the negotiation. People who make very high first offers end up with a much better result.
The first offer pulls the other person in its direction, and it’s difficult to adjust the other way.
Get your timing right
Unfortunately, not everyone is entitled to a pay rise just because they want one. Before you approach the subject, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:
- When was your last pay increase? If it was within the last year, why do you warrant another one so soon?
- Has your performance justified asking for more money? For instance, have you been consistently hitting your targets? Do you outperform your colleagues?
The best time to negotiate a rise is after a period of consistent performance which will make you the obvious candidate for an increase.
Supply and demand
While much is said about the GP shortage, it’s not easy to find experienced practice managers – a fact that you should use to your advantage. Short supply, coupled with demand, means you should be able to command a pay rise. And remember, a pay rise is often cheaper than recruiting someone new.
If you really struggle to ask for a pay rise yourself, why not try to negotiate the same percentage rise for all staff, including you.
If you’re uncomfortable asking for a pay rise face-to-face, try email in the first instance.
“I have just sorted out a pay rise – and find it excruciatingly embarrassing asking for more for myself – I have no problem when it comes to the staff,” one PM wrote on the Practice Index Forum. “However, I decided to go with an email first of all – outlining how I was being paid lower than average for the practice size, and gave them the average salary figures based on survey figures and highlighting gender pay gaps and wages. I them reminded them how well we had been doing lately regarding recruitment, QoF etc. My final bit of info was the fact that should they have to replace me they would have to pay more for an incoming manager if they wanted to attract a good candidate.
“There was some to-ing and fro-ing which I found demoralising and dented my confidence a bit I must admit (as it took almost three weeks and left me feeling they wondered if I was worth the money), but I did actually get what I asked for in the end.”
Put your rise in practical terms
An interesting approach is to compare your pay rise to something practical, as one PM did: “I had a look at my pay recently, and discovered that the rate wasn’t an up-to-date one. I worked out the cost difference to the current scale, the equivalent in flu vaccines (about 30), and asked my boss if I was worth 30 flu vaccines to him. Thankfully he said I was, and agreed the increase!”
Don’t just think about the money
Sometimes, there are genuine (and simple) reasons why you may not get a pay rise, such as a lack of available funds. But, it needn’t all be about the money. Just because your partner has said ‘no’ to a pay rise doesn’t mean you can’t enquire about non-financial benefits as an alternative.
For instance, you could ask for more benefits, such as subsidised travel costs, gym membership or a ‘social fund’.
You may find further success by exploring the possibility of funding towards training and development. Not only will you enhance your skills and, ultimately, your market worth, but, with your new-found knowledge, you’ll become a more valuable asset to your employer – and be in the right place to ask for a rise again six months later.
Have a shot of espresso a bit before you start
And finally, when you drink coffee, you’re more likely to stick to your guns in a negotiation, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.
Preparing to negotiate after drinking something with caffeine made people more resistant to persuasion, the report found. Willingness to hold firm to your attitudes makes it more likely you’ll achieve the goal you came in with.
There’s a wealth of information about PM pay available on the Practice Index Blog – a selection of which are available here.
What tactics have you used to secure a pay rise? Let us know by commenting below or join the discussion on the Practice Index Forum.
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