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How to ask for a raise

In some organisations, pay increases are tied automatically to levels and years of experience. In others, regular salary reviews are held with individual employees. Elsewhere, little will happen unless the employee takes the initiative. If you are in this position, and you want to remain with your existing employer, here is essential advice for getting that next pay increase – and the importance of preparation cannot be overstated…

1)    Make sure you deserve it


Are you really earning the money you currently receiving? Do you work hard at your job? Do you carry you own weight in the organisation? How valuable are you to the firm? The first requirement is gaining a raise is to be worth more than you’re earning now.


2)    Keep tabs on your own performance


Constantly monitor your performance, particularly in those areas your superiors view as important. Work hard to meet your bottom lines – your budget, your performance standards, your sales targets, your deadlines


3)    Keep a record of your achievements


Particularly if you have no formal reporting requirements, record your accomplishments regularly. You will need these files later to help justify your case for a salary increase. Such records, of course, serve a double purpose: they are also vital for building your personal portfolio if you apply for another job in your organisation or elsewhere.


4)    Promote yourself


Subtle self-promotion is essential if you intend to progress in your organisation. Make sure you keep your mentor or superior up to date with your achievements. To do so without sounding boastful, compliment your staff on their (and your) success. Don’t fish for compliments; but when someone thanks you for doing something extraordinary, ask him or her to tell your boss as well.


5)    Hold regular meeting with your boss


Never assume you are performing well, or, if you are, that everyone knows you are. If it is not already part of your workplace procedure, try to have time set aside regularly – say every three months – to discuss you performance with your superior. Indicate that you believe you are doing a good job. Confirm that your boss continues to share your view. In this way you will be preparing the ground for a later meeting when you can press home your request for a raise.


6)    Do your research


Be sure you know your grade or level, salary ranges within those levels, any guidelines or timelines for salary reviews, and similar background information. Learn everything you can from personnel section, your peers, and your superiors. Know what you normally might be entitled to. Find out what other organisations pay for positions similar to yours – talk to friends, search the “positions vacant” columns, network at meetings and seminars, and read the industry magazines. Going into a meeting to discuss your salary requires that you know exactly where you stand.


7)    Put yourself in your boss’s shoe


After preparing, and before speaking with the boss, reflect on how your request might be viewed from his or her perspective. Do you and your work performance warrant the raise?


How is the company performing at the present? What will be the implications for others if you receive a raise? Think through the options, and how you can respond.


For example, if the boss says: “Now is not the time” and you think you are being put off, be gracious and find out when will be the right time. Then, when you come back at the time your boss suggests, you will have the advantage. In fact, at that point, you should begin by saying, “Four months ago when I came to ask for a raise, you suggested that this month would be the best time for us to talk about it”, sounding as if you are only following orders.


If the boss says “You don’t deserve a raise”, ask what you have to do to make yourself eligible. If it’s worth it to you, you may want to improve your work performance and strengthen your case for next time.


If you still feel confident about asking for a raise, it’s time to ask for a meeting to put your case.


8)    Meet your boss and make your request


If you’ve put together a rational case with supporting evidence and done your research, you can feel confidence in requesting a hearing. Be aware of the rules and ask for what you think. Don’t demand a decision there and then: you could well force a negative response. Above all, make it clear that this is a request – a strong request certainly – but not a demand.


9)    Don’t despair if you’re turned down this time


A rejection can mean that your performance doesn’t warrant a raise, you’re your boss cannot consent at this time, or that you have more serious problems than a pay increase. Find out why. The reason might help you to address problems you didn’t realise you had. But if the reason had nothing to do with you, you might wish to try other options, such as a promotion, or training, allowances, travel and the like, in lieu of the raise.


Quotable quote


Sometimes the very act of asking for a raise – however much it may be deserved – puts you manager off. It may even make your relationship worse. This reaction is not rational, but some managers are less secure than others. The decision to ask for a raise should be a political one, and by its very nature should help not hurt you. Study your manager before you begin. If you decide that making the request will damage you, don’t do it. Instead continue to perform well and to keep a high profile; decide whether to stay or look for another more rewarding position. Perhaps your manager will pleasantly surprise you.”


Don’t forget the three key principles


To be successful, a salary negotiation should leave both parties feeling as though they have won something – you, a satisfactory raise; your boss, a contented, productive manager.

Job relevancy is important but personal achievement is better.

There’s a right way and a wrong way – once you find the right way, stick with i!


Smile & Ponder


Reaching the end of the performance appraisal interview, the manager of a middle-sized company asked the young employee, one year with the company since graduating from university: “So you want a raise? What were you hoping to get?”


The 25 year old replied: “in the vicinity of R95,000  a year, depending on the benefit package.”


To which the manager said: “Well, what would you say to a package of full medical and dental benefits, a retirement package of up to 60 per cent of salary, a paid overseas trip every four years, all phone calls paid for, and car leased every two years – say a red Mercedes convertible?”


The young guy sat up straight and said, “Wow!!! Are you kidding?”


And the manager said: “Certainly… but you started it!”


Here’s an Idea


If you are going to get up enough courage to ask for a raise, you’re going to have to get rid of any old programming that tells you that you are being selfish or money-grubbing. Such feelings stand in the way of your getting what you deserve.

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