A collaboration between Chicago Booth Review and Chicago Booth’s Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership, Business Practice is a quarterly series designed to help professionals better deal with challenging conversations. Every quarter we post a hypothetical but not uncommon professional conundrum and ask you for your input on how to handle it. Once you've submitted an answer, you can read and rate other readers' answers; when we close the survey, we post an analysis of the answers we received and send each participant an email letting them know what others thought about their solution. By participating in Business Practice, you not only get the chance to rehearse for challenging encounters related to office politics, career strategy, and other topics, you also receive crowdsourced feedback to help improve your performance when it counts.
Friction with a colleague
The scenario: Recently you joined a small software company in an engineering role. At your first all-staff meeting, Tom, a business-development associate, shares feedback from the company’s largest client, as well as an idea for a product enhancement based on the client’s needs. You ask several questions (you’re still learning the ropes) about how the enhancement might work, whether other customers have similar needs, and what the impact of the enhancement would be on other features of the software.
Afterward, Tom emails you: “What were you trying to do out there? I don’t know how it worked at your last job, but here you don’t make friends by wrecking other people’s presentations in front of senior staff. I’ll stop by your office after my next meeting to discuss.” You are caught off guard. How do you respond to Tom when he arrives?
Negotiating a new salary
The scenario: In your current job at LexCorp, you make $105,000—relatively low for your role and industry. You feel underappreciated and have started to look for other opportunities. After weeks of interviews, Wayne Enterprises has made an offer. All that’s left is to negotiate your salary.
You’ve done your research and have concluded that Wayne pays people of your experience and skills a wide range—between $115,000 and $160,000. Wayne is a better company than Lex, and anything in this range is more than you make now. You’d take any offer, but you obviously prefer to get the highest salary you can.
You set up a call with the HR director and make the requisite small talk for a few minutes. Then you bring up salary without saying anything specific. The HR director replies: “So, how much are you making at Lex now?” How do you respond?