Have you ever wanted to ask for a raise at work? Did you feel that it somehow felt confusing or intimidating? Well, it is.
For many people, asking for a raise is a big deal - and it should be. For some people, it becomes an even bigger deal if the organization provides annual merit or cost-of-living increases.
We are in no way saying you shouldn't ask for a raise, but you do need to be prepared. Afterall, you are about to have a frank discussion about your value within the company. Asking for a raise should also not be an anxiety-inducing experience if you are fully prepared, which only benefits you in the long run. Here are some tips to help prepare you for the conversation:
As with many things in business, timing is everything. Have you just accomplished something great? Successfully launched a new product or implemented a more efficient system? If you have just proven your worth to the organization by adding value, now is a great time to ask.
If the above situation does not apply to you, it does not mean you don't deserve a raise. Outside of a large project or sale, timing is still key. If you can, align your discussion with the beginning of a new fiscal year, or during performance review time. In these cases, your boss may already be considering budget, performance and future goals for the team.
Do not ask via e-mail. I repeat, do not ask via e-mail. Although you may think having it in writing is a big deal, these conversations should be more than a simple question and answer. It should be a discussion that benefits both you and your manager. Ideally, the conversation will also include your future within the company and where you intend to be in the coming months or years.
There are also a lot of people that I have come across that also wait to ask for a raise until they are fed up with the organization or their workload. While this is understandable, it is also wise not to enter these discussions on a sour note.
Afterall, your manager is likely to ask what additional projects or tasks you may be willing to take on with your additional salary. That is a conversation you need to be prepared for.
Because of the above situation, do not use ultimatums unless you are fully prepared to lose your job. No one likes to be backed into a corner, whether they are in the right or wrong. The truth is, even in organizations where one employee seems to be the master of the operations, organizations somehow manage to carry on after they leave. They may not function to the same level of quality, they may function better. But one way or another, they continue to survive.
Another thing to stay away from is personal situations or information. Your personal life should not warrant an increase or raise. The reality is that's just bad business and leaves them open for a whole slew of liabilities. Some organizations do have assistance programs or resources but do not give raises for such circumstances.
Likewise, never bring up other employees' salaries to discuss your own.
This sets the stage for bad vibes throughout the whole conversation. You are not entirely aware of the accomplishments of that employee and you are setting yourself up to be directly compared to that employee.
Be prepared to wait for an answer. Especially with large corporations, everything needs to be approved by a minimum a few people before an answer can be given to an employee. (It also doesn't hurt to have a good relationship with HR, as they are the ones approving this. If you are constantly in HR for bad reviews or behavior, that is something that may be considered.)
Be prepared for a no. In a perfect world, the answer will always be yes. The reality is that organizations have to put the business first. That means crunching the numbers is important. If you find that you absolutely do not agree with their justification, it may be time to start looking elsewhere. In a perfect world, companies are also always successful, ethical and pay employees well. But that is not always the case.
If the answer is yes, be prepared to deliver. While you can privately rejoice in your victory (and please do!), make sure you are also prepared to deliver on all of the discussions had. Doing this will also set you up for the next stages in your career, even if it's not necessarily within the company.