By Catherine Adenle
Have you been thinking of how to ask for a pay rise at work lately? Think no more because these are 10 steps for you to explore or follow. Obviously, every manager, employee and company is different. However, when it comes to asking for a pay rise, there are some universal “must not dos” that employees have to avoid at all costs.
In general, asking your manager for more money is often a stressful and awkward experience. Companies cultural values aside, regrettably, for inexperienced employees, asking to get a pay rise at work could be potentially harmful to their careers if they get it wrong.
This is how to ask for a pay rise at work:
1. Perform above and beyond your job description consistently: First, there’s no point in just asking for a pay rise. Believe it or not, we’d all like to earn a six-figure salary sum a year, but that’s a fantasy for most of us. So, you won’t succeed in convincing your boss to give you a jump of an exorbitant amount or any fantasy amount in your head. Instead, it is important that you first set out to perform above and beyond your job description consistently, regularly and effectively. This will surely set you aside from the rest and allow you to shine, thereby preparing the path for you to earn more.
Doing above what is expected of you at work and doing it well will put you in a good position regarding how to ask for a pay rise. If you are doing this already, you are nearly ready to ask your manager for an increase if you think you are underpaid. So how do you know if you are underpaid or not? This leads to the next step…
2. Are you really underpaid or do you just want a salary increase? Be sure to get a sense of whether you’re actually undervalued and underpaid at work or not. You can do some quick and dirty research on a site like salary.com, which aggregates data from employers and employees to provide salary ranges for various careers. However, what these sites don’t always account for is education, experience, your responsibilities and the type of organization you work for.
You can also use the Salary Calculator and find out if you are underpaid. Look under ‘management occupations’ for the position that most accurately describes your particular responsibilities. Then, select the state in which you work to find out. Using the Salary Calculator, you may also compare and contrast the potential earnings opportunities you might have with positions available to you so that you can make a more informed decision.
Another way is by checking job adverts to judge how much competitors pay employees with similar experience. You may also ask your HR department because they might be able to tell you how pay increases are calculated within your company and the salary range of your role. Armed with this information, proceed to gather your own notable work-related achievements.
3. Continue to show up, play the part and be noticed: If you are not playing your part well or performing above expectations and adding value to your team or organization, asking for and getting a pay rise will be difficult for you. Ideally, all managers would evaluate employees based on their accomplishments, talent and commitment. However, in reality, that’s not usually the case. In some cases, managers are far too busy trying to navigate their own ways in organization’s invisible maze too and so become flawed judges who are prone to making an uninformed decision or judgement about those around them intermittently. That is why you should ensure that your appearance and demeanour are always impeccable.
Make sure your overall manner is professional because the image you portray daily at work is an important part of doing your job well. So, you should aim to always dress for the job you want, not the job you currently have. Be professional and do high standard work. If you already do these first three steps of how to ask for a pay rise, then you are halfway there to actually ask your manager for an increase.
4. Gather your own pertinent work information before you plan to speak to your manager: Before you ask for a pay rise at work from your manager, consider how and why you want to talk to your manager about your current salary first. Using all the information gathered regarding pay, benchmark your strength, capability and knowledge as well as salary. This is essential, especially if you have a manager that’s data and substance driven.
Then, truthfully ask yourself, ‘What have I done lately to add massive value to your organization in terms of cost savings, money-generating innovation, customer satisfaction, efficiency, solutions to employee challenges etc., and can you equate these to costs?’ Answer the question truthfully and note your answers down. Then, ask yourself this second question, ‘Based on my reasons for asking for a pay rise, if I were my own manager, would I give myself a pay rise or not?’ If your answer is truthful YES, why? If NO, why?’ Compile your own answers as they are going to guide your conversation with your manager.
5. Choose your timing carefully: Timing is everything when it comes to knowing how to ask for a pay rise. If you want to get a pay rise at work by convincing your boss to actually increase your pay, you mustn’t approach your boss at the busiest time of the day or week.
Monday morning is a no-no and Friday afternoons are out too for palpable reasons. Instead, talk to your manager when you notice or feel that they’re relaxed. For instance, after a ‘feel good’ incident at work or after lunch is a great time to ask if you could schedule a meeting with your manager. If possible, plan for your meeting to take place in a neutral airy meeting room with comfortable seats. If your boss would prefer an advance warning of the topic of discussion, then mention that you’d like to discuss salary.
6. Go ahead and ask for a pay rise: Once you are in the meeting room, smile, keep it professional and let your manager know why you are both meetings privately if you haven’t told your manager already. Start by letting your manager know that you enjoy your job, working for him or her and being part of the organization. Then, proceed to mention that you have been thinking lately about your responsibilities and how they might be reflected in your pay. Then, tell your manager why you deserve to get a pay rise. Use clear examples that you have gathered to demonstrate how you’ve gone beyond your basic job description to add value to your team and organization.
Highlight how you have demonstrated leadership or few instances where you’ve been flexible and collaborated with others beyond your team to achieve great results, mention when you have taken initiative to improve areas of challenges and tie costs to all in order to support your discussion and make things tangible. Give examples and past acknowledgements from your manager’s boss. Be polite and professional throughout because your goal is to convince your manager that you deserve to get a pay rise and that you are worth a higher salary. Never say you’re underpaid, or get confrontational and belligerent.
7. Wait, listen attentively and hear your boss out: After you’ve asked your manager for a pay rise, reaffirm your commitment to your role and confirm that you’re up for challenges that may arise because of any increase to your pay. Give your manager a chance to respond to your request by asking what they think and how they can help. Capture some notes because you need to have a paper trail. Don’t get defensive even if your manager responds negatively. Listen to what the manager says and ask further questions or offer explanations.
Keep your argument focused on your work and not the struggle you face to get work each morning that necessitates buying a new car with a salary increase. So leave any of your financial woes at home, don’t bring them to the discussion. If your boss decides not to increase your salary, be gracious and ask for the reasons why. Also, ask for what you should be doing differently to qualify for a raise in another six months or a year. You need to learn and change your work practices so that you can have an opportunity to ask for a pay rise again.
Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, don’t threaten to resign. Millions of people will do your work for far less than you currently earn. You can always look for another job with more money. Your decision should be made quietly. Don’t forget, managers change and businesses change. If your manager promises to discuss with his or her own manager and get back to you, thank your manager and wait until you hear back.
8. Follow up with your manager: During the meeting, make sure that you put whatever your manager agrees to in writing. If your manager agrees that you deserve a pay rise, then note it down with the reasons given. If your manager wants to check with their own boss first, note it down. Whatever they say regarding your salary increase at the meeting, note all down.
As soon as you get to your desk, send you manager a thank you note that capture both your conversations. Then ask your manager to amend or approve the note. This way, you have got a paper trail on which you can build your request for next time if there’s the need to make the request again.
9. Really need a pay rise? Do you really need to know how to get a pay rise? The sure-fire way is for you to do what is within your power and raise your own pay by exploring other ways to boost your income. If you have no joy with your manager, explore other ways to earn more money. Sometimes, managers’ hands are tied so they may not be able to give you a pay rise. Other benefits at work equate to money too. For instance, if you are sent on training you gain more knowledge that may help you to earn more or if you are allowed flexible working, you will save money on daily commuting.
You can take another evening job to do twice or thrice a week to supplement your income. That way, you are guaranteed another income. While you do this, aspire to change roles at work so that you can secure a higher income.
10. Earning more money isn’t everything at work, other things matter too: Knowing how to ask for a pay rise at work is good, but what if you are not given a pay rise? When you look carefully at the way people work and why they enjoy work, you will find out that there’s a lot more at play and at stake than money.
There’s evidence that we are all also driven by the meaningfulness of our work, by others’ acknowledgement and by the amount of effort we’ve put in, and that the harder the task is, the prouder we are. There are other things to focus on too, earning more money isn’t everything.
Now that you have explored the 10 steps to take on how to ask for a pay rise, what can you add?