Is it time to renegotiate?

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It’s time. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, if you’re a conscientious, high performing professional, chances are it’s time to consider renegotiating the terms of your job or contract. Today I want to talk about some of the signs to watch for, which are signals that you should be renegotiating.

Before I dive in, I want to remind you that successful negotiation involves more than just money. Yes, money is important – and as women, we do need to kick our scarcity mindsets and actually ask for the money we deserve. But negotiation is ultimately a process that secures an agreement, which satisfies both parties. If you work for someone else or offer services on contract, the other party is probably interested in things like: quality of work, response times, guaranteed deliverable dates, and your unique ability to meet their specific needs with the skills you bring. You might be interested in things like: your choice of team members, elimination of low value tasks from your plate, flexibility, guaranteed time off, and being appropriately compensated for your work – which can include things like incidental costs, travel, and overtime that aren’t currently defined in your agreement.

One of the secrets to effective negotiation is knowing that there are always opportunities for trades. Rarely are all of the wants of each party diametrically opposed. Typically, there are a few items that are distributive (think fixed-pie where you have to split the item 50/50 or according to some other ratio). Sometimes – but less often than you’d think – salary is one of those. To be an effective negotiator, you want to negotiate for multiple trades at the same time, leveraging the integrative items (the ones where win-win is totally possible) to get an overall deal that satisfies you.

So back to the point of this article. How can you tell if it’s time to renegotiate? Well, regardless of whether you work for a boss or for yourself, there are three signs to watch out for, which tell you it’s time to have a conversation about the terms of your employment or contract.

You are the #1 rockstar

If you are the person who is always tapped to take on the most challenging assignments, fix the biggest problems, or deal with the messiest situations, it’s time to stop and look around.

If you’re in an organization, ask yourself why you are always selected for these special projects. Do you have the trust of your boss? Have you developed a reputation for getting things done? Do you never say no? Who else could your boss turn to? And why isn’t your boss going to that person?

If you are your own boss, you’ll ask slightly different questions. What makes you the go-to person? Is it your expertise, level of quality, reliability, or something else? Who are your competitors, and why are you being chosen over them?

People who excel at their craft or in their profession are often the people who need to renegotiate their terms the most. If you are the go-to person, it’s probably not because you’re the least expensive. There is something about what you bring to the table that makes you special. You might have started off in your role or industry by trying to prove yourself. But if assignments are landing on your desk with confidence, or business is rolling in regularly, your reputation is solid. It’s time to consider renegotiating your terms.

Your job description or contract is out of date

Work evolves, I get it. What you were originally hired to do may have shifted over time. But that doesn’t mean that you should be satisfied with the terms of your contracts or employment when they are no longer representative of what you do.

In organizations, roles tend to change as companies become more profitable or efficient. Unfortunately, the role creep that often happens means that high-performers take on more responsibilities while still being compensated at lower levels. Look at the verbs in your job description. If it says that you are responsible for informing, analysing, and advising, but you’re actually deciding, leading, and driving change, you are operating at a higher level of responsibility and should be compensated appropriately.

If you’re running your own business, you might find that the contracts you keep repurposing no longer represent the level or quality of the work you’re doing. Yes, it’s a pain to sit down and rewrite those contracts. But it’s important to spend time working on your business and not just in your business. Regular review of your contracts is a great example of this. Get it into your calendar as part of your quarterly review. You might not update it every time, but a regular check of what you’re doing against what you’re paid to do is an important way to optimize your revenue.

Your pace is unsustainable

If you’re waking up at 5am and putting your phone away at 9 or 10, it’s time to take a hard look at where you’re spending your time. High performers often struggle with letting go of the details. To be fair, the layering on of responsibilities doesn’t happen overnight. It happens gradually, where you start with a certain set of regular tasks, and continue taking on more as the needs of your company or your clients evolve. Unfortunately, high-performers often don’t notice this until they start to see physical and mental health impacts of maintaining an impossible schedule.

Within an organization, this often happens when team members leave and high performers absorb parts of their job. It occurs when your boss provides you with a “stretch assignment” as a “learning opportunity”, but doesn’t offer to take anything off your plate. And it happens naturally as you become more efficient in your own job, and start filling gaps in the workplace – filling your time with more tasks. If you feel like your job is keeping plates spinning or like you’re juggling medicine balls, something has to give. You need to drop some low-value work, get some help, or start negotiating reasonable deadlines.

If you’re a business owner, this shows up as calendar creep – where you’re spending all of your time in the business, and if you want to be strategic, you’re trading time that should be focused on self-care or family. If this is your world and it has been for the last 3 months or more, then you need to get some help, raise your rates, or, most likely both. If your clients want the same level of service they’ve been getting from you, then they need to start paying the rates that allow you to sustainably run your business. When you are giving all of your time to your clients and have nothing left for yourself, it’s time to raise your rates.

Now what?

If you’re an entrepreneur, click here to get a copy of Raise Your Rates: Simple Scripts for Entrepreneurs. It’s my way of helping you easily communicate your new rates to your clients & partners.

Keep learning!

If you are interested in growing your negotiation skills, sign up below to get my weekly newsletter, which features information, education, and learning opportunities that can help you negotiate more effectively. It’s free and you can opt out at any time. In the meantime, you can read more of my blogs on negotiation.

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