Nicole

When And How You Should Ask For A Raise: The Dos And Don'ts

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It can be the most daunting of all discussions, even if you have a great relationship with your boss. For some reason, you don’t have a problem standing your ground when it comes to your opinions about a project.  You don’t have a problem setting boundaries. But, when it comes to asking for a raise, why is it so difficult?

If you feel this way, you’re not alone in finding the conversation of asking for a raise daunting. While the two of us love talking to people about work, leadership, appreciation, and achieving success, we can’t express the number of times people—even leaders—have asked us, “Do you have any advice on how I should ask for a raise?”

Just last week, in fact, a friend was talking to David about the improving economy and how her company was witnessing major growth. “I’ve worked at my job since the recession,” she said. “At the time, I was just happy to have a job. But, now, I feel like I’m underpaid.”

Another friend and former coworker of Todd’s also recently asked, “I feel like I’ve done great things at work. Should I wait for my review to ask for a raise? And, what should I say?”

Of course, we all want to know that we’re making a difference at work. And, we all want to feel that we’re being paid fairly for the work we do. Your salary can also serve as one indicator of your individual progress in your career.  In other words, it doesn’t feel like your successes matter much if your salary isn’t aligned.

So, when and how should you ask for a raise? Obviously, the relationship with your boss can or will effect the outcome of the discussion, but here are a few best practices we’ve found.

First, let’s start with “When should you ask for a raise?”

Don’t wait for your annual review.  Although reviews are intended to be a conversation about past performance and future goals, and seem to be a natural time to ask for a raise, keep your side of the conversation focused on your work, your results, and all the fantastic things you want to achieve. Leaving the discussion of money out of this conversation conveys that your interest in achievement isn’t just monetarily driven.

Do schedule a separate one-on-one meeting. We recommend scheduling a separate meeting with your boss that focuses solely on your ask for a raise. Timing for this meeting could be after the completion of a large successful project. Or, ask before you take on the next large project or additional responsibilities.

Ask 3 or 4 months before budget planning takes place at your company. Prepare comments, improvements, and results that you played a role in to remind your boss of all you’ve accomplished. Asking before the next budget is set allows leaders to plan for increases.  It also prevents you from competing with everyone else who asks during review season.

Once you’ve scheduled your one-on-one, it’s important to prepare for your conversation about getting a raise because no boss will be receptive to the rationale of “because I want more money.” So, here’s our advice on “How should I ask for a raise?”

Don’t joke about a raise. Although you may feel anxious and want to use humor to ask for a raise, using it as a punch line won’t get you very far. “Hey boss, I broke a sweat yesterday, where’s my raise?” will become just what you made it, a punch line. Instead be serious in your approach.

Do show your intentions and willingness to work together. If you have a specific increase of pay in mind, be ready to explain and show the value you create in the organization that justifies that number. And, if your boss says, “That’s too much,” ask what you could do in the future to get to that number.

Don’t complain. A friend of ours told us that he approached his boss by stating, “I haven’t gotten in raise in many years.” First, that can be perceived as complaining, and second, your boss may consider all the reasons you’ve been overlooked for a raise.

Do focus on both time on the job and performance. “I’ve been here for two years and deserve it,” doesn’t say much about why you deserve anything. However, saying “In the two years I’ve been with the company, I have created these results,” shows your boss that you had goals, deadlines, and a commitment to the organization.

Yes, we get asked the question of “How do I ask for a raise?” all the time by people. And, for many, the advice we give doesn’t make the conversation easier or less intimidating. However, there is one little nugget of advice we’ve learned throughout the years that seems to help everyone. That is, to make conversations about your salary and raises more common with your supervisor. Great companies reward great work. Focus on accomplishing great things and, eventually, great rewards will follow.

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