Siya Kholisi's recent move to the Sharks has certainly shaken up South African rugby.
But, behind the scenes, it appears to be part of a well-thought out strategy to bring international investment into rugby, while keeping the superstar South African player on our shores.
As a career headhunter, I have been involved in many job change and salary negotiations and the most startling part of this deal is how quickly it all seemed to take shape (even though, I'm sure, not without many late night conversations).
In this economic climate, negotiations (which are never easy at the best of times) can be very stressful for all parties involved. Whether you've reached final round interviews and are being asked if you would accept a competitive offer or have been offered a role you'd enjoy, at a salary lower than you think you deserve, the truth about negotiation is that it is always about navigating perceived value in the context of supply and demand.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't negotiate, if you feel it's necessary and will protect your lifelong earning potential. But, it does mean that you need to tread carefully.
So, how do you successfully negotiate a holistic package that recognizes your value?
The first step is to consider the whole deal.
Remember that money is only one aspect (albeit important) of any offer. There are many other factors that will directly influence your job satisfaction, including your responsibilities, growth/ promotion opportunities, flexibility, location, long term earning potential, support for continued education and technologies used. These factors all add value to the deal – and could possibly be easier to negotiate (with greater impact on your overall happiness and long-term prospects) than money.
Also, bear in mind that you don't have to negotiate. This is not the time to try to prove that you're a great negotiator by haggling over things that really don't mean that much to you. My advice is that you should only negotiate if something is really important to you or when you feel (and can prove) that you deserve more or something different. If this is not the case (and you really want the job), rather accept upfront and keep your powder dry for later in your career with the company, when you really might need it.
Once you've made the decision to negotiate the deal, your next step is to prepare.
If you want a prospective employer to seriously consider adjusting an offer, you need to give them real reasons to do so.
- Research the average market salaries for your job type: Knowing what the competition is paying for people with your skills will give you a good baseline to work from, while acting as justification for your requested salary.
- Understand your value proposition: Spend time mapping out the value that you will add to the role. Look at how the results that you've achieved in previous roles (goals met/ revenue earned/ awards won) will set you up for success in this one. Or how your prior experience is valuable now. Prepare talking points so that you can detail this for your new employer as justification for your ask.
- Prepare for tough questions: Prepare for questions that may make you uncomfortable, put you on the defensive or expose a weakness so that you can answer honestly without reducing your attractiveness as a candidate or giving away bargaining power.
- Decide where you're willing to be flexible: If your prospective employer is constrained and can't negotiate on money, be ready to ask for alternative forms of compensation – like stock options, extra leave, bonuses or more 'work-from-home' days to combat a lengthy commute.
Add rehearsal time into your preparation so that you can build confidence. Once you're ready, schedule a call to discuss what's bothering you as direct contact allows less room for misinterpretation.
Finally, if you're going to negotiate an offer, remember the following 'golden rules':
It's simple, but true – potential employers will only go to bat for you if they like you. Anything that you do during negotiation that makes you less likable will reduce your chances of getting a better offer. It's all about reading the situation correctly and managing the negotiation well so that you don't come across as greedy, petty or overly persistent.
This is also why you should only ever negotiate a better package if you are serious about taking the job. No-one wants to waste political capital to get an increased offer approved, only to have the candidate turn it down.
- Negotiate your issues concurrently:
If you negotiate your issues piecemeal, you run the risk of seriously annoying your negotiating partner (and potentially losing the offer outright). There's nothing more irritating (or time-consuming) than someone who keeps coming back with 'just one more thing'. Rather, set out your list of issues and rank them in order of importance so that your counterpart understands the full picture and can get approval for changes, en masse, without wasting time (or capital).
- Always maintain perspective:
Remember that the outcome of a successful negotiation is a job that you love and that will love you back – it's not all about the money. To achieve this, it's best to keep reminding yourself that nothing is personal and that no-one is out to get the better of you.
Ignore ultimatums and stay at the table – but, if it doesn't feel right, be brave and walk away. This should ensure that the path you're on will take you where you want to end up.
No matter whether you're a Siya Kholisi at the top of your game, a graduate starting out or somewhere in the middle of your career, effective negotiation, used carefully, can be a game changer.
Make sure it's the right type of game changer, though! Good luck!