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How to ask for a raise

For many companies, we are fast approaching that time of year when annual reviews are conducted and potential pay raises are considered. Whether your company has a formal process for reviewing salaries or not, if you want to be considered for a pay increase, there are some best practice ways to go about doing this so that your request will be (more) seriously considered. This is not an exercise to be undertaken lightly as you are going to your boss asking for more money.

Pay IncreaseThink about it for a moment – for those of you with kids, what is your response when your kids come forward and unilaterally ask for more allowance? Typically your response goes something like, “No, I don’t have any money to give you more allowance;, why would I give you more allowance, etc.” Even if your child has good responses to your retorts, they have already put you on the defensive and it is pretty hard to get you past no at that point. The same goes when approaching your boss with this request. You need to effectively plan for this request and time it accordingly. Here is a game plan to help you:

1. Do your research – ok, so you feel you are worth more – why? You need to do some research to better understand your job and what it pays in the external market. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If you work in an I.T. help desk support job in Halifax, Nova Scotia, don’t compare help desk jobs there to jobs in Vancouver, BC. Likewise, make sure you are also comparing similar size firms and/or firms with similar revenue streams. It also goes without saying to not compare private vs. public sector salaries for same/similar jobs. At the end of day, have your external market research (external equity) done and we able to correlate it to your request.

2. Identify your “pay increase worthy performance” – whether it is in the form of a self-appraisal, or simply a one page snapshot, you need to identify how and where your performance is worthy of a pay increase. Have you achieved stretch goals/targets? Have you saved thousands of dollars with one of your improvement initiatives? Did you spearhead a project that came in early and under budget? Did your creative idea result in a new revenue stream for the company? Were their cuts in your department and you picked up the slack by effectively doing another person’s job? Did your job responsibilities unexpectedly increase during the year and you were still able to meet all of your objectives and KPI’s? These are all the types of areas that you need to focus on and present “the facts” and outcomes to your boss. Remember, data is king and things like being a “hard worker” and “providing excellent service” are what you are currently paid to do.

3. Schedule an effective time – do a bit of homework and find out when your boss is most relaxed and has time to meet – you want their undivided attention. Is he/she an early starter? Than request a meeting in the early A.M. to discuss; or do they stay late after the office has thinned out for the day? Than go ahead and book that 5pm meeting! Don’t request meetings mid-morning, at lunch time or mid-afternoon – those are usually the busiest times for most managers and they are the times when previous meetings run late, or when other meetings (yours) get cancelled.

4. Keep it succinct – once you get your meeting, you shouldn’t need more than 15 mins. to identify why your performance is worthy of a pay increase.  (see point #1).  Get to the point, identify your selling points and then ask for manager to consider your request for a pay increase.  Leave your info. that you developed (from point #1) with your manager so they can review it and perhaps discuss with their boss.  Don’t expect an answer on the spot, but close with a requested/expected follow up date to your request.  If you have a (realistic) number in mind, you should present that number as well.  You need to be careful here and be realistic.  At the end of the day, if your company lost $5M in revenue stream last year and laid off 75 people, you might not want to go in asking for a $25K increase.  This is why you need to have an understanding of the landscape – internally and externally.

5. Above all else, don’t give your manager an ultimatum and don’t overplay your hand. If you truly are valued and are a solid contributor, your manager will know/understand the facts as presented to them. You don’t need to threaten to “go elsewhere.” Additionally, you are best not to make these requests through your HR person. They typically don’t know your performance well enough so you need to make this request to your manager – NOT through your HR rep. Ask HR for advice on how to have these conversations, for copies of previous performance reviews, etc. but this conversation is something you need to do 1:1 with your boss.

There you have it – a five step game plan for asking for a pay increase. I wish you the best of luck and would love to hear from you, whether you were successful or not. As always, I welcome any and all comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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