The Difference between Needing and Deserving
When you approach your boss to ask for a raise, the fact that your household outgoings have recently increased is not going to interest them. You aren’t going to win a pay rise by explaining why you need one.
Your boss needs to know why you deserve one. This means, before you go and ask for a raise, you need to spend some time building the case as to why you deserve it.
Building the Case
There are several key pieces of evidence that can help to support your pay rise request:
- The market value of your role: sites like PayScale, Glassdoor, or Salary.com can help you find this information or, if you are a member of a professional body, it should be able to provide information about the pay scale for different job roles.
- The market value of you: what skills and experience do you bring to the table? What have you got to offer over and above others doing your role? Approach it as you would a job interview; list your years of experience, skills, education, and other credentials.
- How you create value: list your accomplishments, collate positive feedback from clients and co-workers, and where possible attach a financial value to your achievements. How are you helping your organization deliver on its organizational goals? How are you helping your boss achieve departmental goals?
Even better if you have been communicating your successes as and when they happen, so that when you go into the meeting to discuss your raise, your boss already knows you deserve it.
Ask at the Right Time
Now you have amassed the weight of argument in your favor, the prospect of asking your boss should feel a little less daunting.
Hopefully, the information you have collated makes your case for you. Now all you need is the opportunity to present it.
This is one conversation you need face to face, so schedule a meeting where you can discuss it with your boss calmly and in private.
Avoid asking when you know the organization is struggling or making cutbacks; it will be difficult for your boss to justify rewarding you in such a situation. If you can, time your request after you have enjoyed a high-profile success and your boss is already basking in the reflected glow of your achievements.
Have an Exit Strategy
Before you meet, it’s worth thinking about what you will do if your boss refuses your request. Role-playing the interview with a friend or partner can help you prepare to make your case and respond to negative questioning.
During the meeting, try not to get emotional. Stay calm and stick to the facts; focus on the benefits you bring to your boss and the organization.
If your boss rejects your request, ask why and try to understand the situation from their side. If the rejection is based on your performance, don’t get upset or be tempted to argue. You can decide whether you think their criticism is fair afterwards. Rather, ask your manager to explain what you need to do to improve your chances of getting a raise next time. If you can, agree a schedule for reviewing your performance.
If the rejection is based on business priorities or spending freezes, you need to find out if the situation will change. If it will, agree a month when you can reconvene with your manager to discuss your pay rise again.
If you think your manager’s argument against your pay rise is unjustified, it might be time to start looking for opportunities elsewhere.
Either way, your research and case building, and the initiative and resilience you have shown will stand you in good stead.