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Stephen Miles is the founder and chief executive officer of The Miles Group. Previously, he was a vice chairman at Heidrick & Struggles and ran Leadership Advisory Services. With more[…]

When asking for a raise, you should strike a balance between yes man and “flame chaser.”

Question: What is the best way to negotiate for a raise?

Stephen Miles: So in the specific instance where you want a raise or you want to negotiate or bring up the notion of a raise I think A.) you have to look at the conditions of the playing field, which is what is the state of the company, what is the state of the industry, is it in retraction or is it in expansion. Typically obviously when times are better and the organization is doing well there are greater opportunities to ask for a raise and put yourself in a position where you can get a raise. There are two camps here. There are sort of I call them zeroes and ones. There are people who- the zeroes who just put their head down, do a good job and expect the company to look after them from a compensation perspective. There are the ones; I call them flame chasers that are out there. It doesn’t matter what they do. They want more money and they want a gold star and I don’t think either one is correct.

I think what you need to be is somewhere in the middle, which is yes, you need to put your head down, yes, you need to do a good job, yes, you need to get noticed, but then you need to, at the appropriate time, not when the company is cutting 20,000 employees and in total retraction, but when the conditions are right and they are getting more right as we move into 2011 and 12, start to have conversations with your boss and really start the conversations around additional responsibility, roles that you’re interested in, broader roles inside the organization because with role and definition of role and broader definition of role often comes compensation, so you can go right at the heart sometimes and you just need to in your one-on-one with your boss have a compensation discussion and bring up the idea of salary and you can benchmark yourself against the external world and say: “Look, I've fallen behind. Here is what my peer group makes. I feel like I'm doing a great job. I've done X, Y and Z.”, and come factually relevant with your X, Y and Z and have that conversation or you can go the route of additional responsibility, broader role, new role, which again often opens up the discussion around compensation and when you have a mechanism like role or responsibility to open up the discussion then you can come into that not looking like a meat eater that is only- that only wants- is only about money, but you can come in through a facilitated discussion and then have a meaningful discussion about your compensation going forward.

Recorded January 12, 2011
Interviewed by Max Miller
Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd