Catherine's Career Corner
Post Views: 13140 Views

Explore 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase from your boss at work. If you want to supercharge your pay or you think you are due for an increase in pay, it is vital that you know what to say and not say as well as how to ask. Knowing how to ask will help you to receive the pay increase to match your contribution at work.

20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase

By Catherine Adenle

Explore 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase from your boss if you need to supercharge your pay at work. Generally, deciding to ask for more money at work is stressful for most employees and could often be awkward. Unfortunately, for the inexperienced employee, it could also be potentially harmful to their career growth if they ask wrongly.

These 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase from your boss will help you to know how not to discuss an increase. If you’re not careful about how you approach your boss, you risk being perceived wrongly at work. It’s important to say the right things, but before you figure out what those things are, it’s much easier not to start with the list of things on the 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase from your boss because they are things you must not say during this all-important pay increase conversation.

On the 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase, frankly, having a salary increase discussion with your boss can be difficult, and many people handle it poorly, causing frustration and ill-feeling. However, there are constructive ways to approach salary negotiation, and techniques to achieve good outcomes.

While I was thinking about writing this article, someone asked me, ‘Do you know that just £5,000 pay increase at work once, if properly invested, can be worth £1 million over your career life?’ Unexpected, and after a quick mental check, agreeably, I nodded.  The question got me thinking.

Think about it, how many of us go to work, do a great job, go far and beyond to exceed our objectives and then wait around to accept whatever we are given without asking for a pay increase to match the value of the result we add? Many of us, for instance, if through our projects, we’ve saved our organizations substantial amount of money that affects the bottom line, do we just keep quiet at the end of the year and wait for whatever we are given? Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of this and our bosses love us for it because we make their lives easier and their purses or wallets heavier.

“Most of us never ask for raises, even as we get better at our jobs and add more value”.


Pay increase discussion

Let’s face it, aside from proposing to a woman or asking for a loan to start a business, chances are we’ll never have a more important conversation in our entire life if we never have a pay increase discussion at work. Yet we go through live trying to save pennies on food, travelling, as well as the things we love, yet we never know how to ask and get paid what we’re really worth at work. Daily, we go to work so why not learn how to ask for a pay increase from our boss that could add to our lifetime income and open the door to even more pay increase in the future?

First, let me clarify that there’s no point in just asking for a pay increase at work.  Frankly, we’d all like to earn a six figure salary sum a year, but that’s fantasy for most of us. So, you won’t succeed in convincing your boss to give you an increase 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 ask for a pay increase and earn more. However, when we make our boss’s life easier and help the company, we are in a perfect position to ask for and get the increase we deserve provided we know how to ask and these 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase.

Timing is everything

When it comes to supercharging your pay, when exactly do you ask for a pay increase at work? Most companies have an annual merit cycle, sometimes based on the calendar year, and sometimes based on the company’s fiscal year. Usually, this merit cycle ends with performance reviews, a slight merit increase, and perhaps a bonus. Some employees assume the best time to get a pay increase or promotion is during that short period at the end of the merit cycle. This is wrong!

In fact, this is often a bad time to ask for a big pay increase because the merit increases are often budgeted for ahead of time, and the budget is shared by your team, group, department or the entire company. As the budget is shared, it means many people are competing for a piece of a single budget. If you get a big pay increase, it means someone else will likely get a small one or no raise at all. This puts a lot of pressure on your manager to try and distribute their budget evenly and across their team members so that everyone gets something. So, ask for a pay increase off-cycle so that there could be an allowance for you in the next cycle if not immediately. This is often handled as a one-off pay increase, which means they’re not necessarily pulled from a fixed pool of money, and they’re evaluated individually from a finance perspective.

A well-timed request for an increase in an off-cycle raise or promotion can often give you the best shot at a nice pay increase because you’re not competing with everyone else in the company for a fixed amount of money.

20 Ways of How Not to Ask for Pay Increase (Infographic)

When you want to ask for an increase in pay at work, there are some things to consider. With this post and the infographic below, I reveal the 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase at work. However, you can also read the post on How to Ask for a Pay Rise: 10 Steps for some of the best strategies to help you ask for and get the pay increase you deserve.

Now let’s dive into 20 ways of how NOT to Ask for pay increase at Work. The problem with asking your boss for a raise in pay at work is that there are only a few ways for it to go right, and several ways for it to go wrong. Whatever you do, it is best not to ask like these:

20 Ways of How Not to Ask for Pay Increase

Plain content of 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase at work:

  1. What else do I need to do to get a raise round here?
  2. I have just been offered another job with more money than I currently earn here. If you don’t increase my pay, I’ll be off in no time.
  3. I have been here longer than everyone but I know that I don’t earn half of what some of them earn.
  4. Could you just close your eyes and think about my pay for a minute? Then, let me know what you are going to do about it?
  5. Why is Robert earning more than me? He’s lazy and I am not. Yet, I heard that he earns more.
  6. My workload has increased, but my pay hasn’t. What are you going to do about it?
  7. Just to let you know, I will not do any extra work or overtime until my pay is increased. Just saying…
  8. I give a lot to charity and I have four children. They depend on me, so now is the time for you to review my pay.
  9. I just bought a house; my pay cannot sustain me anymore. So, I need a raise or I may have to quit in search of a better paying job.
  10. I didn’t really want to come to you with this, but, please, do you think my salary could be higher?
  11. I haven’t been given any pay increase for years now, so am I going to get a raise this year?
  12. I work harder than anyone in this office, yet I have nothing to show for it.
  13. I have always met my yearly objectives, but I have never been rewarded for meeting them. What else do you need from me?!
  14. After my probation period, I expected an increase in pay. So, when am I getting one? What’s the deal here?
  15. I have no savings, my salary is just not enough to sustain me or allow me to own a car. Can I get a pay rise for goodness sake?
  16. Can you at least consider me for a pay rise? I am worth it, you know.
  17. Compare my pay to that of my colleagues and ask yourself if you’ve given me what I deserve.
  18. Sorry to bother you but I think you should know that it is the time for me to get a pay rise.
  19. What are your criteria for promoting people here? I think you have everything that you need in me. I am ready for a pay rise. Yet, I get skipped.
  20. I think I’m worth more than you currently pay me for doing this mindless job.

See Negotiating a pay rise with your current employer

When you ask for a pay increase at work, know that rejection is a reality when you ask for a raise, and it’s something you should be prepared for when you meet to discuss with your boss.

Look before you leap

There is no ‘one way’ and ‘proper’ or ‘standard’ way to ask for a salary increase. It’s not something that employees are trained to do, and little is usually written about it. So, employees use various approaches: sometimes they write an email; discuss informally; discuss with someone and hope the boss gets to hear; they drop hints here and there to test the water.

What must not be done is ask the boss impolitely; demand; go over the boss’s head, or maybe threaten to resign, secure another job offer, or simply resign.

Largely employees do not look before they leap; they are often under pressure, and they feel uncomfortable and stressed asking, so they fail to plan and control the situation, which makes achieving anything difficult. Simple planning, knowing these 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase and keeping control can make a big difference. Regardless of the outcome, just taking the chance to ask for an increase can be a positive experience for you.

Getting the pay you deserve

If you feel the need to ask for a pay increase, the most positive way to approach this is to ask for extra work and responsibility at work and then link this to a pay rise, once you have great results to show for the work. This is a grown-up approach that employers respond to better than simply asking for more pay for doing the same job day in day out.

Another positive approach is to ask for a performance-related bonus or pay increase subject to achieving more, based on standards or output greater than current or expected levels. This again should be received positively by your boss because you’re offering something in return, and not simply asking for more money, which most people tend to do.

See How To Get The Salary Increase You Deserve

If you do not understand your organization’s method of awarding pay increases, your first duty should generally be to discuss this with your boss. Pay is normally linked to performance, which allows the company to increase your job grade, or promote you, or to award a bonus to you. Discuss with your boss how you can improve your performance and contribution to the organization, in a way that will enable promotion and an increase in pay.

Now that you know these 20 ways of how not to ask for pay increase at work, what else can you add? Let’s hear from you. Leave your comments below.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle

2 thoughts on “20 Ways of How NOT to Ask for Pay Increase

  1. Fantastic post. It’s ridiculous to say these things during a salary increase negotiation meetings. However, a great and productive worker may not know how to argue their own case. It takes a good manager to know who’s due or not due for a raise. Love your blog.

  2. Thank you for a great comment, Anita. Absolutely, you’re spot on! I think a great manager should know who is due for a salary increase in his or her team. There are other ways for such managers to also demonstrate or give rewards if there’s no budget allocated for a huge salary increase.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 + 4 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.