Recently, I was asked, “I’ve been in my company for 13 years, and feel I deserve a raise for that. How do I approach my boss?”
Over the course of my career, I’ve been on both sides of the desk regarding salary increases. So, I thought I’d share my perspective along with 5 tips to help you become more confident and successful in asking for—and getting—what you want throughout your career.
Behold the Raise Rules, beginning with my answer to the above question:
Rule #1: It’s the quality, not the quantity, which matters most in your career.
A woman who once worked for me insisted that she be promoted from manager to VP simply because she had been in her job for 30 years. Her responsibilities hadn’t changed much, and neither had she, except for her sarcasm and sense of entitlement, which had grown to aggravating proportions.
She kept insisting that she deserved a huge raise and higher title because she had 30 years of experience. What she really had was 1 year, repeated 30 times. She was furious when I told her “No.”
Longevity may have been a useful bargaining tool years ago but it’s not the first and best card to play today.
Today, it’s the value you bring to the present and the future of your company that matters most–not just what matters most to you.
Keeping this in mind when you ask for a raise is the first step towards getting to “Yes.”
Which brings us to:
Rule #2: Know your audience.
It’s important to understand that when you ask for anything, you must be aware of the person you’re asking. Remember: it’s never just about you.
Before asking for that raise, consider asking yourself:
“What does the corporate culture indicate about increases in salary?”
“What’s my boss’s motivation in helping me?”
“What does she/he want that I can offer?”
“What does she/he get out of all this?”
“What time of day is best to approach my boss and what time is best to schedule an appointment?”
“How will I handle any hurdles, including rejection?”
“Who is the person that can really say ‘Yes,’ and what matters most to them?” (Hint: The “Yes” person is often not your direct report.)
And—“What else do I need to be prepared?”
It’s important to note that when you ask for a raise, you should never make your boss do the work (eg: listing your accomplishments or additional responsibilities, or writing your updated job description.) You must do it for them.
Do you know your audience?
Good! Then, let’s move on to:
Rule #3: Know Your Value
What’s your worth to your employer, your team and your company—now and in the future? How do you impact the company’s bottom line as well as your boss’s bottom line?
Think carefully on this, because there are practical and personal implications with value.
For instance: When I was negotiating my salary while being assigned a problematic department, the obvious value to my boss was the reduction of errors and costs, along with the improvement of turnaround time and team dynamics.
My boss also had a personal stake in my acceptance of the new responsibilities: It would finally put an end to the constant complaints and aggravation he suffered. That was his real pain point! I never mentioned this to him. I didn’t have to. It was obvious.
To determine your value, consider:
• The results you’ve produced and will produce.
• What these results mean for your boss and your company.
• What stressful situations you help to avoid, including failure to an operation/a project/the organization.
• How you improve reputation, support, safety, comfort.
• The scope of your impact on your teammates, your customers, and/or your clients.
If you are not convinced of your value, you’re going to have a hard time convincing anyone else! As million-dollar consultant Alan Weiss once said: The first sale is to yourself.
I couldn’t agree more.
This leads us to:
Rule #4: Know yourself.
Do you believe in yourself and your abilities?
Your mindset is everything, and confidence is at the core of it all. The less confident you are, the less risk you take, and the less money you make.
And, I’m not talking attitude here– never walk into your boss’s office angry or arrogant. I’m talking a belief in yourself and your abilities—that you will be OK: safe, secure, successful—regardless of outcome.
After all, asking for a raise is being able to market yourself successfully. To believe in your product—you—first and foremost. This is critical not only to selling your value to your audience but to accepting any outcome gracefully.
If you’re not comfortable with this, get the support you need before you walk into your boss’s office. Talk with a coach, a confidente, a family member, a therapist–people who will lift you up, not push you down.
And remember: Your salary is only a company’s perception of you. Your perception of you is the one that matters.
Rule #5: Always, always follow up.
You may not get what you want this time, so you need to pave the way for the next time.
Tell your boss you would like to schedule a follow-up meeting in 3 months, and leave the ball in your court—meaning the next move. That way, you’re not waiting anxiously for your boss to initiate further discussion. If your boss hesitates on a date, say you will touch base by such and such a date. That way, she/he can follow your contributions more closely.
And, remember: Rejection is not final. It’s only part of the process. If you don’t risk the chance of failure–because you only do the things you know you can do– you’ll never truly succeed.
Cheers to your success!
Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan