Negotiating for what you’re worth can feel like a high-stakes poker game. But when you think you have an ace up your sleeve, is it a smart move to try to get more, or a risky move that could result in them calling your bluff?
This week, leadership coach Lolly Daskal helps an employee who feels overworked and undervalued figure out how to improve his situation.
I’m a department-of-one in a mid-sized company. It used to be a two-person operation, but the second position wasn’t filled when that person left. I now have a lot of responsibility to make big decisions, but I badly need a full-time support position that the company has made clear they aren’t going to add. As a result, I’m really shortchanged in what I’m able to do on my own.
Because I’m the lone wolf, I know it would gum up the works quite a bit if I left. Should I play hardball with that leverage and threaten to quit if they don’t hire someone to help me? What if they call my bluff? I don’t want to isolate myself within the company even more than the nature of my position already does. Any ideas?
Solo, Lonely, and Overworked
I can imagine how frustrated you must feel and how overworked you are, doing the job of two people. What’s needed in your situation is to communicate that frustration—without playing hardball or threatening anyone.
The problems that seem obvious to you may not be obvious to your boss. So if you can communicate the problem in a compelling and concise manner, getting help may be easier than you think. Even if not, you’ll have helped clarify the details in your own mind.
Here are some steps you can take to help ensure you’re heard and understood:
1. Make a list. Actually, make four lists. First, list everything you do as part of the job you were hired to do. Second, list all the additional work that you do as a result of your department’s reduction to a single position. Then list the things you cannot get done to your personal standards. Finally, list the things that aren’t being done at all because you’re too crunched for time.
2. Create a vision. Describe what you would be able to achieve if the second position were reinstated and filled. Be realistic. Remember to balance day-to-day and recurring activities with long-term strategic planning, assessment, and other big-picture activities that are important to your organization’s success.
3. Write it down. Even if you want to communicate verbally, write down everything you plan to say. Make sure your message is clear and well-reasoned; use numbers where you can to support what you’re saying. You don’t want an emotional rant; this is a business case for reinvesting in the second position so your area can provide greater value to the organization.
4. Make your case. Whether it’s by email or in a meeting, say what needs to be said.
If you have a reasonable boss and you make a compelling case, you may get what you ask for. Even if the answer is no and the response was valid, based in budget crunches or other organizational factors, you can follow up with other possible solutions, like hiring an intern.
But if it seems to stem from a closed mind or a lack of concern about your well-being and your department’s performance, you have a tougher path ahead—to decide if being miserable is really worth it and if you are going to stay in the job. This is not about threatening to quit, this is about making a good decision for yourself and making a change, if that’s what it takes to find something that works for you.
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