This is Part 2 of the software developer’s guide on asking for a raise. If you have not read Part 1, I encourage you to read it here.
In the first part, we laid down the foundations for the proper mindset that helps you reach your financial goals. In this article, we will investigate the role of emotional intelligence, communication, and your resources. The third and final part will arrive in December. In Part 3, you will read about the timing and execution of your raise.
If you don’t want to wait for Part 3 to come out, or you are interested in an in-depth chapter on getting raises, purchase The Developer’s Edge – How to Double Your Career Speed with Soft Skills.
You may ask why we are dealing with emotional intelligence and communication when it comes to asking for a raise. The reason is, many people burn bridges by getting frustrated due to things they tell themselves, and they feel their manager is the cause of all their frustrations. Nothing is further from the truth. You get the chance now to do something against these emotions, and smoothly execute your negotiation.
If you are looking for the alpha male posture, FBI hostage negotiation techniques, hypnotic phrases, usage of NLP in negotiations, telling lies, and other amazing techniques, you are just one google search away from finding out about these topics. Feel free to bookmark this site in case you wanted to come back after finding out that there are no shortcuts, and these techniques don’t work.
An average human has sixty to seventy thousand thoughts a day. If these thoughts tell you that you are weak, clumsy, and ugly, your self-esteem will weaken, and your self-image will be shifted accordingly.
Another aspect of your thoughts is that you are responsible for whether you are in the box, or out of the box. If you are in the box, your limiting beliefs override your rational thoughts. Typically, you say things like
- I can’t talk to my boss
- I shouldn’t think about raises
- I won’t be able to negotiate
- I have to behave well
- I need that raise
- I can’t stand my boss, he keeps ignoring me on purpose
- He is always late!
- This has to happen, otherwise we fail!
People typically feel hopelessness, fear, frustration, anger, resentment, and generally experience very negative emotions. You can also read some generalizations, and short-sighted assumptions that are hardly ever true.
There is a completely different world outside the box:
- I choose to give my best every day
- I will create as much value as I can
- I want to and I can make positive changes in other peoples’ lives
- I will do whatever it takes to reach…
In the box and out of the box thoughts have not much to do with positive thinking. You are not forcing positive thoughts on yourself. The reason why the messages sound more positive out of the box, is that you are less limited there, and you have the option of choosing an internal monologue that suits you better than in the box.
The question is, who puts people in the box. When you point fingers at other people, or events, always remember that three fingers point back at yourself.
In case you accept that you are responsible for putting yourself in different mental states, your self-esteem will eventually grow. Your decisions will be better, and your work will become more valuable.
Most of the time, your internal monologue puts you in the box. People tend to narrate what happens to them. Sometimes this narration becomes very negative. We often distort reality, our conclusions are not logical at all.
Your internal monologue often creates obstacles that hinder you from reaching your goals. Your emotions in the box are usually less healthy, and you can often convince yourself to act against your interest.
For instance, in case you cannot accept yourself, the way how other people appear to judge you, matters more to you. Of course everyone appears to be judging you in the box, even if no-one is actually judging you.
The act of negotiation should happen outside the box.
If you contact your lead, and he fails to respond, chances are, he is not ignoring you on purpose. Your lead could be very busy right now. Your lead might have already started discussions with HR to support your cause. Alternatively, your lead can also have a bad day, and deal with your situation the day after. Expecting the worst outcome is the worst thing that can happen to you.
It is so easy to demonize your co-workers or your managers. Don’t fall into this trap! I learned over the years that your managers are often on your side. Your manager won’t earn less money by paying you more. In fact, it is mutual interest that you are paid well. The IT industry is very competitive, and most people leave their employers if they are not paid well. Your manager is interested in keeping people who add value to his team.
As a metaphor, imagine a good wolf and a bad wolf in you. Whichever becomes louder, will shape your message. The key realization in managing your emotions is that you feed both of your wolves. Stop feeding the bad wolf!
We are still laying the foundations of supercharging our career growth. Let’s have some fun in the process!
Communication and social skills are vital. Your career capital includes your professional connections. I am not saying everyone has to like you. All that matters is that you are comfortable in everyday situations both in the office and outside the office.
Let’s start with outside the office. Go to meetup.com, and find an activity that you like. Let it be a board game group, startup poker, a tech meetup, a rapid dating group, or a freeletics group, attend a meetup for fun.
As you are there, make sure you talk to some people, and find out a couple of things about them. With practice, you will learn how to remember their names.
If you are an introvert, you may still like social interactions. It you are not used to talking to people that often, you will start more slowly, but picking up momentum is worth it. Think about it as an investment! You may go to conferences and networking events one day, where you will be surrounded by people. If you go to an interview, you will definitely meet some people.
If you include some recreational activities in your life, you will not only recharge your batteries, but the people skills you gain will pay high dividends in your career.
If there are regular lunch groups in your company, join some groups. If you join the same people every day, find a different lunch partner, or a different lunch group. The magic phrase “Hey, we have been working together for X months/years, and we have never had lunch together. Would you like to have lunch with me?”
You will get to know more people, and you will be more comfortable with talking to others.
From time to time, instead of using your internal communication medium, let it be Skype, Slack, or another channel, stand up, and ask your question directly! Software development is often a team effort. Team members should talk to each other.
Whenever you disagree with another team member or with your lead, make sure that you represent your point of view, and understand the point of view of the other person. You are looking for win-win situations. Under no circumstances should you compete with other people, or defeat them in a debate.
Treat everyone in the way how you would like them to treat you. Don’t forget that the order of the events also matter. First you treat other people nicely, and then you may observe results.
Time is a precious resource. You cannot make a difference in your career without allocating time for it. For instance, you are spending your attention on reading this article. In exchange, you most likely gave up browsing Facebook, listening to the latest meme on the Internet, or collecting Pokemons.
We are looking for a sustainable path towards career mastery. I strongly believe that this path exists for programming mortals. On top of what you are already doing, investing an additional thirty hours every week will guarantee you a burnout. Some advice I have read out there is simply not sustainable, because of the reason that the effort you put in is not worth the long term reward.
My advice is based on sustainable little steps that will lead you towards career mastery. One step is, to free time in your life to be able to take these steps.
I challenge you to record all your activities for a week. Be honest with yourself, identify everything that does not make you happy, yet you still do it on a regular basis.
I will give you some examples:
- Watching TV or Youtube celebrities
- Browsing Facebook and other social media sites
- Playing mobile games, computer games, console games
- Reading news just to feel yourself worse
- Project Inbox Zero, a.k.a. reading all your emails
- Reacting to notifications of your phone
- Doing nothing, because you have so many things to do, and you can’t choose
- Shopping for no reason
- Fighting the traffic instead of choosing a more efficient way of transport
- Unproductive overtime for no benefits
- Working on tasks that don’t matter (productive procrastination)
Most of these items require no explanation.
Facebook, notifications, and emptying your inbox are based on the natural wiring of your brain. The fear of missing out on something. As soon as you get bored, you know you will get some entertainment by doing things you have always done. This process is not even conscious, but it can be brought to conscious level by interrupting behavior that does not help you.
I have talked to many people, who have had the problem of not knowing what to do when they are flooded with tasks. This is natural. You feel the tension of having to do more and more things. If you have to make decisions over and over, you will get tired, and you will have a hard time making even simple decisions.
Instead of following an unsustainable productivity system, all you need to do is decide in advance, what matters, and what doesn’t matter.
You have the choice of finishing only things that matter, or never fully finishing anything while jumping back and forth. Choose your tasks in advance, commit to them, and this way, you will have a lot more fun.
The effective approach avoids the phenomenon called productive procrastination. This is when you are very productive in case of things that don’t matter, but you keep postponing the tasks that make a big difference. Ask yourself what you need to do to get a raise. If your next task does not contribute to it, evaluate if it is worth pursuing it.
You can shift your focus starting now. This is my first challenge to you, I hope it will pay off in your life.
Come up with a plan of how you are going to save at least an hour a day, and imagine what you can do in that hour. Above all, think about how your accomplishments will make you feel. As soon as you get a chance to experience what you can accomplish, missing out on some of your less productive habits will most likely be a no-brainer for you.
One last word on sustainability. Watching TV, playing computer games, and browsing Facebook is not bad in absolute terms. Everyone needs recreation, and you are free to choose what makes you happy. I used these activities in the context of career advancement. Imagine you know you should do something about your career, and you promised yourself you would do something this week, yet, you play games from Monday till Sunday. How would you feel once the week ends? My guess is that your self-esteem is likely to shrink a bit, as your self-image becomes a person, who puts things off. I personally know this phenomenon. I will never forget the day when I uninstalled all my mobile games, save states, and turned off all notifications on my phone. I instantly got my hour a day back. Since then, miracles happened, and I feel better than before.
In the third part, we will visit the negotiation table. Until then, if you want more information on getting a raise, download the free chapter of The Developer’s Edge.