Dear Pat: I just got a glowing job performance review and was able to negotiate a decent pay raise. I have to sign off on the review and return it to my boss in a few days, then it will go to the CEO for the raise approval. Here’s my quandry: I’m also ready to submit a proposal for a four-day, 32-hour workweek. Should I submit the proposal to my boss at the same time that I return my performance review papers? She’ll have to get the new schedule approved by the CEO, too. If I separate the requests, it seems I’ll put my boss in a difficult position, having to request approval of my raise one week, then for the shortened workweek the next. Yet I’m afraid that asking for my flexible work schedule at the same time will impact my raise. What do you advise? ~ Sarah
Dear Sarah: Career bias against flexible work—especially reduced hours—remains in some employer cultures, so you have a valid concern about your four-day workweek request negatively impacting the CEO’s decision about your raise amount.
Your Timing Depends on Who Has Decision-Making Authority
If your boss had the final decision-making authority for both the raise and the flexible work request, and you could complete the negotiation with her, I would advise presenting your proposal and request for part-time hours right after acknowledgement of your performance was recognized in writing, including the agreed-upon pay increase. Your negotiating leverage would be especially strong at that point, and your boss would be primed to approve it.
But since you’re removed from the direct negotiation and your boss has to make your case for you up the chain of command, I advise you to separate the two events.
Wait, But Ask Soon Enough After Your Glowing Performance Review
While I imagine you’re eager to submit your shortened workweek proposal, it would be prudent to delay for three or four weeks after getting approval of the raise, for the reason you mentioned.
Keep in mind that job performance reviews and raise requests are standard annual business agenda items, so that topic won’t stand out as an unusual. For your boss to discuss a new agenda item with the CEO related to you and your job four weeks after a routine one is fairly reasonable. At the same time, it is close enough to your glowing performance evaluation to positively impact their decision to approve your flexible work request.
Another good reason to wait a few weeks? It may take that long for your raise to be processed. You want to be sure the pay increase is firmly in place, as evidenced by your paycheck, before proceeding with your request for the 32-hour workweek.
What to Say to Open the Meeting
Set up a meeting with your boss. If s/he asks the purpose or topic, say it’s to discuss a job redesign idea. Be ready to present your completed proposal. Then open the discussion.
“I appreciate your recognition of the value I’m bringing to the role of [your job position]. Today I’m bringing a business proposition for a restructuring of my job that will keep me motivated and focused on the work goals we discussed in my performance review.”
Hand over a copy of your proposal. “I’ve detailed how my job can get done in a flexible work arrangement, specifically a four-day workweek. Would you please take a few minutes to read my proposed plan so we can discuss it.”
From there, negotiate your new flexible work arrangement, as detailed in the Part-time Proposal Package.
Timing is a factor to consider in any negotiated request. You now have a savvy strategy for negotiating yours.
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