How do you negotiate with a boss who won't acknowledge that you ARE ready for the promotion you deserve?
Too many competent women (and particularly women of color) are denied the promotion they seek, because decision-makers are blind to their own gender bias.
This IS infuriating, and if you're in a similar situation, you have ways to take back control of the trajectory of your career.
In this episode, I walk you through five steps you can take:
Including a sample word-by-word script, so you know HOW you can use your voice in a smart and strategic way to negotiate for better outcomes, even if your manager's got a reputation for overlooking women.
Featured in this episode:
Read the full transcript of THIS episode by clicking HERE.
As a coach for women, I'm super passionate passionate about helping smart women get beyond other people's blindspots to get promoted and better paid.
I do this through my unique combination of:
To learn about my 1:1 coaching series and to book your free hour-long consultation with me, click here: https://www.jamieleecoach.com/apply
Enjoy the show?
Connect with me
Jamie Lee (00:01):
Welcome to negotiate your Career Growth. I'm Jamie Lee, and I teach you how to blend the best of negotiation strategies with feminist coaching so you get promoted and better paid without burning bridges or burning out in the process. Let's get started.
How do you negotiate with the boss who won't acknowledge that you are ready for the promotion you deserve? In the most recent episode, we dove into the mindset of how to think about unconscious gender bias, which we all inevitably encounter in life and at work. We also talked about empathic confrontation, which is one way to bring to light or to address head on other people's unconscious biases in a graceful but assertive way. I today I wanna walk you through a word by word negotiation script that I offered one of my current clients to help her negotiate with a manager who has a reputation for overlooking women who flat out told her he doesn't think she can do the job that she's already doing.
I know that's crazy and I'll tell you a little bit more about that in a bit. But here's why I'm so fired up about this. Because as a woman who used to work in male dominated fields like finance and tech, I know what it's like to feel the burn of being overlooked and underappreciated by managers. And by the way, of all genders, not just men who don't always care to know whether they're being biased and who don't always care to know that there is harm being done, that you know people are losing morale. And it does lead to employee turnover. I get it. I have walked away from jobs for this very reason I have voted with my feet before. And I also know that quitting or leaving a job isn't always the best solution for everyone. Nor is giving up on the opportunity to speak up, to advocate, to negotiate for you.
Because when you are clear that you have a choice and that you have a vote on where you work, even if you decide not to go, you know, vote with your feet, you always have that vote, you always have that choice. And when you recognize this, you are more empowered, you are more willing to make a bet on you by speaking up for you, by advocating and negotiating for you. So you can take back control of what you do have control over your voice, your say. And this means you don't have to wait for the world to be perfect. You don't have to wait for people to change, because let's face it, most of the time they don't. But you can still have a say, you can still use your voice, you can still be the leader you want to be and be more satisfied in your career and grow your income.
That's why I coach on the skill of self-advocacy and workplace negotiation for women. That's why I help my client. That's why I help my client come up with the script that I'm going to walk you through pretty much line by line today. And FYI, I'm hosting a free negotiation webinar on July 18th, Tuesday, July 18th, where you can workshop with me live so that you too can come up with your own custom negotiation script and you can learn the thinking and the framework that drives the script. And this framework has proven effective in my 11 years of helping women negotiate for themselves. And by the way, I know sometimes it's tempting to just copy someone else's script, which is kind of like trying to shoehorn your own rather uniquely shaped foot. I'm saying that because I have a very uniquely shaped foot <laugh>. And then you try to shoehorn that.
You try to squeeze that into a shoe that was custom made for somebody else. It's all right, but it's not ideal. You might be able to walk a bit, you know, kind of like I had this image of like when I was five years old and I tried to walk in my mom's shoes, but you won't be able to go the distance. So if you really want something that's going to work for you in your unique situation, you can either join the free webinar on July 18th, and rest assured, if you're listening to this in the future past July 18th, don't worry. There will be future events. And um, you can also book a free consultation with me. That's an always an option available to you. Both links will be in the show notes. Let's get started. As I said, this is a script that I offered my client, but let's say this happens to you.
You've been working really well with your direct manager and just for the sake of this conversation, let's call this manager Sam (I try to choose a gender neutral name) who one day decides to go take a bigger job elsewhere. There is no replacement for Sam yet. You've taken on Sam's responsibilities while continuing to deliver on your own responsibilities. You're basically the interim manager and you're doing two people's jobs. And because you are smart, because you're dedicated, you've not missed a single deadline. So of course you're thinking, I can do Sam's job, I'm doing it. Let's go apply for this manager role. You're now meeting with the skip level manager, or in other words, the person that Sam used to report to or your manager's manager. And perhaps this person is the senior vice president or the C level executive at your company. The skip level manager, let's call this person Pat (again, trying to be gender neutral) says, send me the list of things you're working on, including what your old manager Sam used to do.
So you send Pat this list, and then they turn this into the job description for Sam's replacement, for your old manager's job, which more or less confirms you are doing the job of the replacement. So the question is, why bother hiring externally? You sit down with Pat, the skip level manager, and you tell them, I like to be considered for this role. I'd like to submit my application. And Pat gives you the runaround. Oh, I don't think this is for you. They say you need to develop more leadership or something rather vague and subjective. That typically cannot be quantitative quantitatively defined. So let's just pause here and notice this hypothetical situation is anchored in the lived experiences of too many women. You could call it the glass ceiling, you could call it the gender bind, you can call it the double bind, whatever.
It happens too often. So how do we get past this? How do you continue to grow your leadership and your career without letting that frustration, that anger turn caustic or letting pats run around mean that you are not cut out to be a leader? Cuz that's not true. I wanna suggest five steps. I mean, we, we can, we can talk about the macro view, but for the sake of this conversation about how to negotiate, I wanna suggest five simple steps to take. And then I'm gonna walk you through that script word by word. Number one, remember that your career is your vehicle to drive. Number two, decide what you want and why. Number three, choose a much bigger frame. Expand that frame for your ask. Number four, connect the dots between your contributions or what you got done and the business goals. And number five, make them say yes or no.
So let's go through one by one. Number one, your is your vehicle to drive. As women, we've often been nudged toward roles that are support roles instead of roles that are driving roles that roles that drive revenue, p and l, very visible growth. And that's not good or bad. But for me, I've, I've had this experience, um, and I've noticed that for me, it led to me internalizing this mindset of like, I'm at the effect of other people's decisions. I have to react, I have to respond when they decide, instead of seeing myself as the driver, as the person who is in control of my career. So my client, for her, she chose the mindset, you know what, no matter the outcome, I drive my career, I'm in control, I can see what's happening here. And you know what, whether this skip level manager says yes or no to my ask, I'm gonna continue to drive my career.
I'm gonna continue to grow and learn because that's what I do. Whether that is here or elsewhere, your career is your vehicle to drive. So I want you to like zoom out of the situation and think about a much bigger picture, right? Where else can I drive? And if I were to take this opportunity to advocate, negotiate for myself, how would that practice, how would that new skill benefit me wherever I decide to go? And then let's go to number two for now, you are deciding, yeah, even, even if I am gonna go to you know much, um, go pursue much bigger opportunities elsewhere and and, and possibly work with people who are less biased, I'm still gonna decide to build that muscle. Now I'm still gonna decide to make an ask because I wanna practice advocating for myself. So number two, you gotta decide on what you want and why, because you initiate this conversation, they'll ask you, okay, what do you want?
What is it specifically you want? And why is it that you want this? I, so in this very specific situation that I'm gonna walk you through, we've already established that the skip level manager is not on board with the idea of this person of my client getting promoted into the manager's role, right? So we're not gonna ask for that, but we do want to be recognized for the extra effort. The work that you've already done, I think the pronouns are getting a little mixed up, but you, you, you get me, you follow, right? So instead of asking for the promotion, we changed that, we pivoted the strategy to let's open it up to compensation to being compensated for that extra effort. And that compensation can take the form of either a salary bump or a bonus payment. In companies, sometimes it's easier to negotiate for a one time or a spot or a merit bonus rather than a salary bump because the salary bump gets, it's, it's elsewhere on the p and l and it means that, you know, like it's a commitment to them like paying you more, um, over time, over a longer duration of time.
But because you've decided your career is your vehicle to drive, and you can take this and learn from it, but you could also grow your in income and your career elsewhere. It's okay if it's either a merit bonus or a salary bump. So now let's go to number three. Choose a much bigger frame for your ask. It is very tempting and it's some, this is like one of the most common mistakes that most people make when they go to negotiate for what they want in their careers is to point to a much smaller frame in the past. Here's what I mean, frame is what, uh, directs your visual focus, right? When you think about literal picture frame, right? It directs your focus to what's inside the frame. And so when you frame, they ask to like, well, last year I did this. In this quarter I did that and there, so I should deserve a promotion raise.
Right now you've directed that visual focus to a spot in the past to just what got done and you made it all about you. In other words, it's like you cast a small spotlight on the past that includes just you and the things that you got done in the past. In order for you to be more effective and compelling in your workplace negotiation, you want to expand that frame so that it doesn't include just the past, but it includes the present and the future as well as the other side, as well as the impact to the company and how it drives business goals. I like to think about it this way. It's like, beyond what got done, you wanna make the obvious, what is obvious in your brain is explicit because you are thinking getting X, y, and z done. That's obviously beneficial to the company.
It helps them make money, it keeps customers happy, it helps us reduce costs, it drives business goals. And so you wanna make that part explicit. What's what you think is already so obvious, why should you even have to say it? Sometimes you have to say what's obvious in your head because other people, you know, managers, skip level managers, they're not always seeing that obvious connection, which leads to number four. You wanna connect the dots between your contributions and business goals. You wanna get very specific, right? Give examples, tell a story. Tie it to something that you know the other person, you know, that the listener values or prioritizes. So in the script that I am going to share with you, you know, we've explored and we're like, okay, we know that this person cares about having time to spend with their family. We know that their time is limited because they're, you know, juggling so many different priorities right now.
So we're like, okay, we're gonna keep that in mind. And we also know that this particular manager, this skip level manager, they value bottom line metrics. So we're gonna keep that in mind and we're gonna make that explicit. We're gonna make that connection really clear. Now, number five, make them say yes or no. Now, actually in actuality, in the process of negotiating, you wanna be asking lots of open-ended questions. Now, if you want like a rule of thumb, you wanna be asking like 85% open-ended questions, open-ended questions or questions that start with who, what, where, how, right? And sometimes why, right? And they're not easily answered by yes or no. And that is very strategic because you wanna understand how they're thinking about it. You wanna understand what's on their mind. You wanna understand what's their pain point. So you, you're gonna invite them to share with you their mind, their thoughts, their concerns, by asking strategically open-ended questions.
And you do that also when you encounter pushback, you do that so that you're like, okay, let's problem solve, let's be curious, right? However, in this specific situation that I'm gonna walk you through and um, in this specific framework that I'm gonna teach at the webinar on July 18th, you do want to make them say yes or no so that you can direct the flow of the conversation so that you know that you got buy-in, right? On the fact that you are adding value, because whether they're biased or not, whether they think you're ready for the promotion or not, whether they think you need more skills or not, we have to be on the same page that you are adding value. And of course, you're always adding value, but you wanna make them say it out loud, <laugh>, right? It's, it's a way of pinning them down.
Sure. And you wanna do that at a point when you have collected enough information where you have assessed what they most prioritize when you have assessed, uh, what you want and why you're gonna ask for it. When you have assessed how to, you know, expand that frame. So it includes both the present, the future, both sides, right? That's when you strategically ask this closed ended, right? Yes or no questions are closed ended. So in this specific example that I'm gonna walk you through, as I mentioned, it's something that I offer my client and my client, you know, received feedback from her skip level manager saying, you know, you're a good culture creator, right? Somehow he thinks that she's a good culture creator, but not yet ready for the management role. It doesn't make sense. I know in any case we're gonna use that because he said it, right?
And so I suggested, why don't you start with some honest but strategic ingratiation, because sometimes when leaders are charismatic, they tend to respond well to this type of honest ingratiation when it's based on fact, based on what they said. So I suggested to my client, why don't you start the conversation with, I appreciate you recognizing me as a culture creator and I'd like to continue contributing in a way that helps us maintain and improve the bottom line of our company. Continuing to make progress in my career matters a lot to me, both in terms of skills as well as future potential. And in fact, that's what I like to discuss with you today, what I'm doing, how it drives our business goals and how that gets reflected in my compensation. Okay? So I'm gonna pause right there and just gonna highlight the strategy point of like now by saying that you know, what I'm doing, how it drives business goals and how that gets reflected in my compensation.
Now you've expanded that frame to not just what got done, but the present and the future. So now from there, here's how I suggested that my client connect the dot between her contributions and business goals and anchor it into that strategic yes or no question. So here's the rest of the script. I like to bring you up to date on the progress I've made in the past two quarters. I've taken on Sam's roles and I've met a hundred percent of the deadlines while saving money and ensuring a high level of trust and credibility with our business partners. One of the things I'm most proud of is working with engineering to design and implement a solution that enables our customers to get their daily reports faster with zero risk of human error. I believe these efforts have helped the company improve customer satisfaction as we scale and help you feel rest assured that things are taken care of without needing more of your time and attention. Would you agree that I'm adding value?
So let's pause here again. See what I did here in the script, she's talking about what she got done, she's getting very specific on the wins, but she's also tying it again and again to what matters. What the skip level manager most cares about. High level of trust and credibility, zero risk of human error, improving customer satisfaction and helping you feel rest assured that things are taken care of without needing more of your time and attention. So it's very, it's very strategic. It's like saying, Hey, I've done this and I did it without costing you any more of your time and your limited attention. Would you agree that I'm adding value here? Now, every time that I've suggested my clients use this, you know, particular flow, no one, no manager has ever said no to this question. And that's because everything that we said ahead of the question was very, very carefully thought out.
But in the off chance that they do say no, I wanna offer you, that is still valuable to you, that is still good to know because if you are not on the same page that you are adding value, that is a conversation you wanna have pronto, you wanna get clarity on that right away. You wanna ask, if they say, no, I don't think you're adding value here, okay then what's the issue? Where are we in disagreement about what is of value and what is not? What would need to change so that I am adding value? What would you need to see from me? That's a very critical conversation you wanna have sooner rather than later. But again, most of the time, a hundred percent of the time my clients have used this question, they've gotten, yes, I'm and, and then what you say when they say, yes, of course you're adding value, you're doing a great job.
Continue, please keep going. Then you say, I'm glad you agree. And in this script I suggest that my clients say, I'd hope that the extra stress and effort I've taken on will be positively reflected in my annual review and be reflected in my compensation. That's why I like to be considered for either a pay increase or a merit bonus of about $20,000. So let's pause again here. And from there, in coaching we also thought all the way through all of the potential objections and the pushback. And then we thought through, okay, what are some additional questions? What are some open-ended questions or other closed ended questions that you can ask, right? To do? Redirect the flow of this to get on the same side, or I'm adding value here, right? So that your ask is substantiated. And if not, if we're not in agreement, how do we problem solve?
But um, in practice you also want to get to clarity, right? A confirmed a committed, yes. And so we anticipated in coaching that, you know, they'll probably say the skip level manager will probably say, oh, okay, yeah, but I gotta, you know, discuss it with my other colleagues. I have to discuss it with the CFO or the ceo. I'm like, okay, discuss it and you let me know what I can do to help and discuss it and you let me know when we'll have a decision. So you're, you're not just leaving it open ended, we have clarity about what comes next and how do we go from here. So in summary, I want to remind you once again whether people are biased or not. Whether people think you're ready for the promotion or not. You get to decide that your career is your vehicle to drive.
You get to decide what to ask for, what specific request you wanna make and why. And you get to expand that frame in a very strategic way that helps you anchor your contributions to the business goals. So, so that even if they are biased, so that even if they don't think you're ready for the promotion, they can't say no when it comes to agreeing that you are adding value. Cuz that's, that's what we all work. That's the reason why we all show up and do our work to help add value. You get to also take credit for your wins, you get to pin them down and then you get to drive and guide the conversation to commitment to next steps. And let's just also pause and notice that in doing so, you have to take stock of your contributions and you have to articulate it in a way that makes sense and is compelling to the decision makers.
And this helps you build confidence in yourself and this confidence you can take with you wherever you decide to go, because your career is your vehicle to drive. Also, let's notice that you get to leverage the strength of empathy, your ability to think about what others think and care about, right? Even if they are biased <laugh>. And you get to use that empathy, you get to leverage that as your leadership strength because negotiation skills are leadership skills and this helps you build connection, lead to collaboration, and you get to get through and get heard by people making decisions. In other words, your empathy, that strength can help you build your influence, which will save you time instead of overworking, instead of overcommitting, instead of burning out like so many people do as I have done in my career, instead of waiting for others to give you the recognition that they don't even see that you deserve, you're gonna save yourself time.
You're gonna step up, you're gonna advocate for yourself while getting clear on what's most important so that you can prioritize so that you stop spending so much time on things that don't drive the needle, make better decisions, right? And also a key thing I want to highlight, which is that negotiating in this way is an ongoing process in our culture. We have a tendency to think about negotiation as like this one of thing. It's a transaction. It's just like, you know, uh, trying to get a better deal. It's a bargain, it's a, it's like haggling. No negotiating in your career in the strategic way is an ongoing process. You do it regularly. You are already in negotiations. You do it weekly. Every time you have that recurring meeting, every time you sit down at the one-on-one, every time you sit down for the semi-annual or the annual review, and sometimes, and often it happens at ad hoc and informal conversations.
And I want to equip you with the skills and the strategies and the frameworks so that you can do it on the fly. I'm going to teach you, I'm gonna walk you through the key questions I ask my clients so that they can get to a script like the one that I just walked you through. And I'm gonna do that on July 18th, negotiation webinar for Ambitious Women. I'm gonna help you articulate your value and it's totally free to attend. I do this because I feel like it's my civic duty to help women, women of color, women of marginalized identities, women who are working for bias, to people to be able to equip themselves with the skills, the tools to be able to take control of what is in their control, their voice, their votes, their decisions. I hope you will join me, and if not, you're welcome. You're invited to book your free one-on-one consultation with me so that I can help you custom fit the process to your unique situation. I will talk to you very soon,
Jamie Lee (30:17):
And if you want expert guidance in your corner to help you achieve greater self-confidence and greater career satisfaction as you grow your skills in negotiating, leading, and influencing as a woman professional, I invite you to book your free one-on-one sales call with me to find out how executive coaching can help you do exactly that. The link is in the show notes, talk soon.