Asking the boss for a raise probably does not rate high on your list of favorite things to do. In fact, most people would rather have an all-night dentist appointment than face the manager across his/her desk to request more money. What is even more disappointing, however, is knowing that if you don’t ask, the answer is most likely “no”.
If you feel like your performance has been good and you deserve an increase in your salary, there are several things you can do and/or learn which will increase your chances of getting what you want.
1. Know the boss’s criteria – Does your manager award salary increases that are out of the normal cycle of compensation? If so, what things trigger these increases? Does she reward exceptional performance over a period of time? For example, if you work on a project and deliver on-time and under budget, you may get her attention.
2. Don’t wait for your performance appraisal – Contrary to popular belief, the performance appraisal is the worse time to ask for a raise. First of all, if your company is doing things the right way, they have separated the pay discussion from the performance discussion. If those are not separate conversations, it’s very likely that any pay decisions have been made before you ever sit down to chat.
3. Focus on your accomplishments, not the money – Go in to the discussion with a well thought out plan for what you are going to talk about. Use the time to highlight your accomplishments. Discuss the things you did that helped the team or organization to achieve objectives. You want to make it very difficult for your manager to ignore your request for an increase. Make no mistake, this is a sales call.
4. Know what your job is worth – The secondary point here is to be realistic about what you want. It’s fairly easy in the Internet age to do research and know what jobs are worth in your geographic location. You need to understand that you are not going to make five times more than your peers that do similar work. If you ask for that, you will not be taken seriously.
5. Be gracious in victory or defeat – Regardless of the outcome of the conversation, your manager will be paying attention to how your react, immediately and in the next few days and weeks. If you get what you want, don’t flaunt it to your co-workers. That’s a sure way to make sure it’s your last raise. If you get denied, ask questions about what it will take to be successful the next time you ask. Understand that any decision is a moment in time decision and it can change at any time.
If you are considering having this discussion with your manager, a great place to start is to complete an Individual Development Plan to get your thoughts in order. You can download an IDP Woksheet here.