How to Get a Raise

“Doggone it!” said Mark. “Those S.O.B.’s have been taking advantage of me for far too long! I deserve a raise—NOW!”

I agreed with Mark that he was underpaid and deserved a substantial raise, but urged him to calm down. It may be tempting to angrily storm into the boss’s office and saying, “Give me a raise now—or I quit!” But anger rarely gets raises. Such an aggressive tactic is likely to be met with firing—or they may say, “OK then—quit.” Most bosses don’t like people challenging their authority—and no one likes being spoken to harshly by anyone.  

A lot of us can relate to Mark and his frustration. We’re overworked and underpaid. But asking for a raise often feels like walking through a minefield filled with emotional triggers and potential conflict. But it is possible to advocate for yourself effectively and get the compensation—and recognition--you deserve. Let’s discuss how to effectively approach the delicate matter of asking for a raise.

Market Research

Perform some research on salaries being paid for your position in your geographical area and industry. Websites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and LinkedIn Salary can provide insights, as can conversations with peers and people in your professional association. This information will arm you with data to back up your request, ensuring it's aligned with industry standards. At the same time, though, you should be paid based on what you produce, not on what the other guy is making. If you’re producing way more than the average, you are justified in asking for much higher compensation. 

Documentation Is Key

Don’t expect that your manager is going to know about all the things you’ve accomplished. The boss has his/her own problems, which often include paying closely scrutinizing areas where things aren’t going well. Plus, there’s a tendency to take for granted the areas where everything is in great shape. In another blog, I spoke of our former client, the network administrator, who was let go. The Controller told him, “Our network works just fine. Why do we need to pay you a big salary?” Of course, after the Controller kicked our client out the door, the Controller soon found out why our client was making all that money.

I recommend keeping a record of your accomplishments, significant projects, efficiency improvements, customer satisfaction boosts, and positive feedback from clients or co-workers. This record serves as tangible evidence of your contributions and impact on the organization. 

Build Your Case

Prepare a well-structured memo that states your loyalty and commitment to the company—again, no threats. Then, concisely present your achievements and contributions. Quantify them if you can, but realize that many contributions can’t be quantified. If they’re not quantifiable, don’t discount them. Do show how you’ve saved the company money, driven revenue, enhanced efficiency, serviced customers and been the go-to person for questions about major projects.  

The Right Timing

Timing can significantly influence the outcome of your request. Aim for a moment when the company is performing well financially, or shortly after the successful completion of a significant project under your leadership. Generally speaking, avoid periods of economic downturn or just after layoffs. But if you’re the one holding everything together after a major layoff, that changes things.

Request a Meeting

Don’t just spring the topic on your boss. Instead, request a formal meeting to discuss your progress at the company and compensation. This demonstrates professionalism and respect for the manager’s time. You might refer to the meeting as a conversation about your future at the company--and your desire to contribute to its continued success.

Practice Your Pitch

Before the meeting, rehearse your key points. Anticipate potential objections and prepare calm, rational responses. Practice with a friend or mentor to refine your delivery and ensure your argument is compelling and concise.

Foster a Collaborative Tone

Approach the conversation as a partnership discussion, not a confrontation. Express your enthusiasm for your role and your commitment to the company's goals. Clearly articulate how a raise is not just a personal benefit, but a recognition of your contributions that motivate you to continue excelling. Seek to enlist the manager as an ally.

Be Open to Compromise

It’s possible that a raise might not be doable because of budget constraints or something else. If so, think of other ways they might compensate you—additional vacation days, flexible working arrangements, professional development opportunities, etc..

Handling Rejection 

If the company turns you down, see if you might get constructive feedback on how you might improve and if there are specific goals you should aim for to be considered for a raise in the future. Use this as an opportunity to understand how you can grow within the company. 

Alternatively, it may be time to look for new opportunities. Some companies will pay new hires well, but will continue to treat their existing employees like chopped liver as long as they will put up with it.

Do you want to discuss your situation? Set up a time to talk using this link

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