A common misconception is that employers always reward good work. Unfortunately, asking for a raise isn’t as simple as, “I’ve done X and Y, so I think I deserve a raise.” When you put it like that, you will likely hear an excuse like, “there is no budget.”
More importantly, asking for a raise makes most of us feel uncomfortable. How do you even ask the question? How do you prepare? What do you do when your boss says no?
The most important question we should ask ourselves is: Why should I get a raise? Management shouldn’t reward mediocre employees just because they have a long tenure.
If you want to increase your pay, you should make a strong case by showing that you add value to the company. This is the only requirement to ask for a raise: add extra value. Do you feel like you can’t make a case for your performance yet? Then don’t ask for a raise.
But if you have demonstrated above-average performance in the past 6–12 months, go for it. Here are 4 best practices that will improve your chances of getting a ‘yes’.
1. Don’t Ask Your Manager During The Annual Review
Almost everyone I encounter believes the perfect moment to ask for a raise is the annual review. We hope that our manager will recognize the outstanding work we’ve delivered — which doesn’t happen automatically.
Additionally, your colleagues probably think it’s the perfect time to ask for a raise as well. That means more competition — something you don’t want. Most companies allocate a budget for raises — once the budget is gone, your chances are gone as well.
2. When Should You Schedule A Meeting?
Figure out when’s the best time to have a talk about your salary. Just ask your manager: “How and when are raises discussed?” That is the perfect way to start the salary conversation.
Some people think it’s too direct. But there’s nothing wrong with asking about the process of getting a raise when you’re adding value to the company. Once you’ve found out when you should have the conversation, schedule a meeting.
Say: “I’d like to sit down together to discuss how we can make a case for revisiting my salary.”
Communicate to your manager that you’re working on this together. Remember: your boss should be your ally.
3. Present A Solid Case
You can easily build a case if you keep a journal or a file of your accomplishments. We often forget to capture the value we add to our employer or how we’ve developed ourselves. If you haven’t captured your achievements in the past 12 months, this is a great time to start doing that.
You can do this easily by writing down what you’ve accomplished, and what colleagues or clients say about you. Communicating that information to your boss is essential. You shouldn’t assume that your boss exactly knows everything that you have done for the company.
Your case should be a combination of value-added to the company and the skills you’ve developed. An employer shouldn’t only care about results, but also about your development.
When you have the meeting, be prepared to explain why you deserve a raise. You can be straightforward.
One of my friends recently successfully asked for a raise. He said, “In the past year I’ve outperformed my target by 150%, and I’ve served as a mentor for two new colleagues. I’d like to discuss a raise that will reflect what I’ve been doing.”
4. If You Get A No: Build A Mutual Plan
Always prepare for the worst. You might get a ‘no’. But that’s not important — asking for a raise is a win-win situation for you. If your request gets rejected, you can ask, “What does it take to earn a pay increase in the future?” Together with your manager, you can determine what it takes to get a raise. Now, you can work towards achieving the requirements.
Once you’ve completed all of the agreed conditions, you can go back to ask again. By taking this approach, you make sure you have a good understanding of your company’s procedure for raises and promotions.
Next time you apply, you have a stronger case because you completed the things that are needed to get a raise. When they say no again, it could mean the company’s structure is wrong. That doesn’t mean you should threaten to leave. But you should think about whether your career is still progressing at your employer.
What Kind Of Raise You Can Expect?
The average raise is 3%. However, raises up to 5% is not unlikely in my experience. But numbers shouldn’t be your primary motive. After all, money doesn’t buy happiness. Research by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton demonstrates that extra money doesn’t make you happier. What does make you happier is if you progress your career by getting a salary that matches your value.
Tony Robbins put it best: “Happiness equals progress.” The bottom line is that you never receive it if you don’t ask. When you put your fear aside and have an open conversation with your manager, you will see it’s not that bad. Don’t let the fear of rejection hold you back. Even when you get a no, you will have enough to work with so you can get what you want later.