How to Ask for a Raise
How many of you are happy with your pay?
It is human nature to reflect on your compensation. We generally compare ourselves to others on many attributes: how smart we are, how creative, how innovative, and how talented. Most employees try to differentiate themselves.
If you have worked hard all year, you may believe that your compensation is not in line with what you deserve. Furthermore, if you have metrics to demonstrate your value beyond your specific mandate, then you might feel especially entitled to a raise.
At year's end, performance ratings, bonuses, and annual raises can be fraught with disappointment or disillusionment. As the die has been cast, it generally is too late to negotiate for something different. So what is a disgruntled or disenfranchised employee to do?
Here are my suggested strategies and questions to ask yourself.
[Related: How to Reach the Next Level in Your Career]
1) Advise your manager.
Let your manager know you are disappointed. Ensure you present a business case and metrics to demonstrate your accomplishments.
2) Do you have a profile?
Are your achievements known to others in your organization? If you have made a difference, you need to have sponsorship. Are you a known quantity, or someone toiling away at your cubicle?
3) How about those people leadership skills?
You may have achieved key milestones, but are you regarded as a leader who develops others? Do you motivate and build cohesive teams?
4) Stand up, leader.
Are you an active contributor to the community for important causes or charitable initiatives on behalf of your organization?
If the answer to all of the above is a resounding “yes,” then I would strongly recommend you have an in-depth conversation with your manager. If you were rated "satisfactory" and expected to receive a "high" rating, or were rated "high" and thought you deserve an "outstanding" rating, then this warrants a dialogue.
You need to ask your manager what actually would constitute a higher rating for next year. What leadership behaviors must you exhibit, and what targets must you achieve? What differentiates an "outstanding" rating from a "high" rating? Be clear on knowing exactly what that is.
[Related: Double Bind Dilemma: Leader vs. Team-Player]
Do not wait until year's end to express your disappointment. You should be proactive throughout the year and have intermittent checkpoints with your boss. Ask how you’re doing, how you’re tracking. There are no guarantees as your rating, and bonus is tied to the bigger pie, but early feedback allows you to course correct.
Benchmark yourself. Obtain data relative to your position, level of expertise, and years of experience. If you have objective data points, you can make a claim that your position needs to be reevaluated. You can present this information to human resources. This can be positive leverage and a platform for negotiation.
At the end of the day, whether we like it or not, there is a subjective component to this. Despite all the objective and measurable data points that you believe justify an increase in your compensation, you are competing with your peers.
Just like a family, your boss has favorites. You may or may not be the favored child. If you aren’t, you can be proactive. If being proactive does not produce the desired results, then you have a decision to make.
At the end of the day, it comes down to one very basic element: being recognized. If you believe you meet all the criteria for a raise and this falls on deaf ears, then dusting off your resume and testing the market is the very best thing you can do.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
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