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Nærbilde av hender som holder en pen for å signere på en kontrakt

Råd og tips

Tips to help you get ready for your next salary review

Written by Anne Grete Nordal  Nov. 12 2021

Having anxiety about being paid too little can damage an employee’s self-image over time. If you’re anxious about an upcoming salary review, it’s okay to be open and admit it’s a difficult topic for you. Think strategically, do your best to create a positive atmosphere, and don’t use up all of your arguments at the start.

– Having a salary review meeting with their boss is perhaps what employees dread most at work. It feels very personal. You’re worried that you’ll leave the meeting with weaker self-esteem – disillusioned and with a feeling of being undervalued, claims Tekna attorney Arve Vaale-Hallberg.

Arve Vaale-Hallberg
Tekna attorney Arve Vaale-Hallberg

Salary is emotional

– If you prepare well, there’s a good possibility your arguments will be understood. And even if the meeting doesn’t pay off financially, the feeling of having your boss acknowledge your situation can be a “mental prize” you can carry out of the meeting room.

– A lot of it has to do with creating a good relationship with your boss, says Vaale-Hallberg. He advises you to be open and say at the start of the meeting that discussing your salary is a new and difficult topic for you.

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Not on opposite sides

It’s a good idea to define the situation – that you’re not on opposing sides but are sitting in the same boat, or at least rowing in the same direction towards reaching your company’s goals

– Try to create a pleasant atmosphere. Make positive comments and remain calm and cheerful the entire time. Remember that a salary review isn’t a meeting based on opposition. A manager is generally interested in rewarding staff members but has to stay within a predetermined budget. It’s a good idea to define the situation – that you’re not on opposing sides but are sitting in the same boat, or at least rowing in the same direction towards reaching your company’s goals.

--Remember that all this can be difficult for your boss as well, even if they’re wearing their “salary review armor”. Your goal must be to get your boss to want to reward you, or at least make it a little harder for them not to reward you. It’s better that you both want to listen to each other rather than just argue from your own point of view. In the end, both of you should be somewhat satisfied with the result of your conversation.
It’s a good idea to define the situation – that you’re not on opposing sides but are sitting in the same boat, or at least rowing in the same direction towards reaching your company’s goals.
Divide up your arguments

Vaale-Hallberg explains that a lot of people want to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of running out of arguments by backing themselves into a corner. His best advice: Don’t state all of your arguments right away. Instead, divide them up into “portions” that’ll last throughout the meeting.

– Go at it little by little – talk about what your expectations are and what you base them on. At this point you should be thinking strategically about what’s smart to bring up during the conversation. For instance, keep a good point to yourself until the very end of it, advises the Tekna attorney.

Be well prepared

Norwegians have something of a taboo against talking about their salaries. There are very few people who are willing to say what their salary is out loud; nevertheless, there are a few facts you should try to find out beforehand.

– Before asking your manager for a salary review meeting, you should check into what other employees with a similar background to yours are earning. If nobody answers your inquiries, you can always ask your manager about where you are in relation to these others. Vaale-Hallberg advises you to find out if your employer is using a certain set of criteria to make their salary assessments. If the company is associated with NHO, these four general criteria are used for this purpose: economy, productivity, competitiveness and future prospects.

The following NHO stipulation refers to an individual employee’s salary range determination: «The company shall determine each employee’s salary on an individual basis according to a factual assessment of his/her competency, skill, performance, experience, tasks and degree of responsibility as well as his/her professional development since their last assessment. Working as a union representative can award qualifications that may be included in this assessment.»

What’s your value?

Before any salary review meeting, you should think about the value you bring to your company. The term “value” includes among other things your ability to work with others, your flexibility and the quality of work you deliver. It’s important for you to think about what you’ve achieved and how you’ve grown professionally at work:

  • What have you achieved lately/since your last salary adjustment?
  • Have you gotten more responsibility, different work tasks or raised your competency level?
  • How have you contributed to ensuring the company meets its goals?
  • Have you contributed beyond what’s expected of you in any area, or contributed to cutting costs for the company?
  • Do you have a special area of expertise or sought-after skills?
  • Have you achieved any goals agreed upon previously with your manager?

– You can also ask directly what you have to do to get a higher salary and remember that not everything you’re currently doing will pay off right away. Have a bit of patience with respect to the situation, your manager and yourself.

Like pieces of candy

A useful tip from Vaale-Hallberg is to keep a record of all your job-related accomplishments as this’ll help your boss remember all the terrific work you’ve been doing and what you’ve achieved. But don’t «carpet bomb» them with everything you’ve done! Do it like you’re pushing pieces of candy over the table one at a time; otherwise, you’ll appear pushy and demanding.

– The conversation should end with an understanding and – what you want most – an acknowledgement from your boss that there are good reasons for rewarding you financially, and they’ll pass on this recommendation to a higher level in the organization. There should also be a clarification of what you need to do in order to receive even more compensation at your next salary review.

Before any salary review meeting, you should think about the value you bring to your company. The term “value” includes among other things your ability to work with others, your flexibility and the quality of work you deliver. 

Use statistics with caution

Before the meeting, it might be smart to prepare your employer on topics you’re thinking about bringing up. For instance, you might want to discuss changes that’ve been made to your area of responsibility or work tasks.

Facts and thoughts about salary development should also be brought up during a salary review meeting. – Go ahead and inform your manager where you are in relation to Tekna’s salary statistics. But use these statistics cautiously and like a guideline for determining your salary development, says Vaale-Hallberg. He reminds us that statistics give a macro perspective showing average salary figures for different branches. But there may also be variations here between industries, company size and location, etc. In addition, he advises the following:

– Check how your employer has previously used Tekna’s statistics, and be aware of the fact that they also look at other statistics, for example those published by RIF (Consulting Engineers’ Association).

– Prepare yourself for having to answer all follow-up questions connected with any data you present. For example, if you work overtime, and if it’s expected that you do so, says Vaale-Hallberg.

He recommends that you yourself take the initiative to set up a salary review meeting, if your company has no procedures for it.

Before the meeting, it might be smart to prepare your employer on topics you’re thinking about bringing up. For instance, you might want to discuss changes that’ve been made to your area of responsibility or work tasks. And make sure to agree in advance about how long your meeting will last.

What are you earning compared to others?

Are you wondering how your salary compares to others working at your same level? 

Avoid ultimatums

– Keep your focus on salary at this kind of meeting. Other topics are usually included in a performance review. Don’t get personal. The company doesn’t consider demanding a higher salary because of your own shaky financial situation a relevant argument. And making personal attacks on your manager or other colleagues is destructive for future collaboration. Don’t give any ultimatums, like threatening to quit, if you’re not willing to go through with it. And don’t play around with the truth. It’ll weaken your credibility. There’s a difference between having a dialogue with another employer and having a concrete offer on the table from them, advises Vaale-Hallberg.

Read about the 7 things you mustn’t even think about doing during your salary review meeting and the traps you have to avoid.

 

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