So you’ve been slaving away at the same job for a few months. It’s hard, sometimes a bit of a drag, but overall you like the place.
But then it hits you like a truck: Despite all the stuff you’ve done for you workplace – the KPIs met, the extra hours clocked, organising the freaking Kris Kringle last December – your pay is the same damn amount you signed up for when you first stepped through the door. Not good.
So how do you approach your boss, supervisor, or overlord about the dreaded discussion: getting a raise?
Luckily, it’s a lot easier than we’ve been led to believe. PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke to Karen Gately, a people management specialist at Ryan Gately, about the Do’s and Don’t’s when you walk into that corner office for the big talk.
DO: HAVE THE HOMEWORK AND STATS TO BACK YOU UP
Having the stats about how much someone in your position with your experience and time in the role should be earning is vital. That way, you can point out to your bosses that, no, other companies aren’t pay you that much and yes, you should be earning more. As Karen puts it:
“For every job, there’s going to be a range that employers are going to be willing to pay people at. And, within that range, where you’re positioned is going to depend on your level of experience, your standard of performance, in the role. So you need to go into the conversation having spent the time understanding what that reasonable range might look like.”
DON’T: WAIT FOR THEM TO APPROACH YOU
Sitting and waiting for your workplace to do the right thing and pay you fairly will more than likely result in nothing. As Karen states, being proactive about getting a raise is key.
“Sitting around, wishing, wanting, hoping, praying, that someone will pay you appropriately is not going to create that outcome. It’s actually, I think, a matter of self-respect. That you find the courage to have the quality conversation that can influence the right outcome for you.”
DO: BRING UP THE GOOD YOU’VE DONE
Have you changed your workplace for the better? Gone quote-unquote “above and beyond”? Somehow kept up appearances as you slowly die inside? Gately notes that ensuring that these achievements are at the front of your boss’ mind is another key factor.
“You want to be able to also say, “I’m confident that I’ve added growing value to this organisation, over the past period, evidence by current feedback from clients, repeat business, projects delivered or achieved.” Whatever commercial, or organisation outcomes you can point to that are valuable that you’ve influenced, have that at the forefront of their mind so you can draw your bosses attention to them.”
DON’T: WORRY IF YOU’RE AFRAID
Trepidation is common, especially when taking about money. At the end of the day, you’re essentially asking your boss to spend more money on you. It’s a common fear, and one that Gately says can be offset with confidence in your claims.
“Actually choose to believe that you deserve to be paid fairly. And if having a honest conversation with boss is what’s required for that to happen, then you owe it to yourself.”
DO: KNOW WHAT YOUR COLLEAGUES ARE (GENERALLY) GETTING PAID
While you should ideally focus on your work and achievements, knowing what you’re colleagues in similar roles are getting paid helps. It’s another piece of research that helps build your case, especially if your salary is lower than theirs. Or, as Karen puts it, you have “concerns over the competitiveness of your pay”.
“You can absolutely draw to their attention that you are aware that other colleagues are being paid at a higher standard and you don’t understand the difference between you and them,” she says. “As well as asking “What more do I need to study, what do need to get better at, what skills do I need to acquire to command the level of pay level that my colleagues sitting over there are already getting?””
DON’T: FOCUS ON ONE PERSON
It can be tempting to directly compare your salary to one singular colleague, especially if you believe there are other factors affecting the rates of pay. But pulling that card during a negotiation will only lead to you either being negatively compared to your colleagues, or getting on your boss’ nerves quicker.
“When you start with, “Oh, so and so’s earning this and I’m not earning as much,” employers don’t tend to respond to that well because pay decisions are a very individual decision.”
DO: ACT REASONABLE AND PROFESSIONAL
Yes, it’s super-tempting to just storm into you boss’ office and just scream “I WANT MONEY NOW!” until you get the desired result. But, according to Karen, the best approach is to go in as Bruce Banner, as opposed to the Hulk.
“You need to be negotiating with reason, with emotional intelligence… It is about being calm, about being rational, about being considered, it’s about being planned, prepared.”
DON’T: BRING EMOTIONS INTO THE FRAY
Putting on a sob story about bills or medical expense or vet bills for your cat will get you nowhere fast. While it might help you get a back pat from your mates, your workplace is more concerned with your performance than anything else. In short, to use Karen’s words, “Don’t personalise things.”
“To go in there and be demanding and be emotional and personalise it for example by saying “Oh my rent’s gone up,” and, “Oh, I can’t afford to buy my kid a birthday present” That kind of stuff doesn’t help your case. The employer is likely to not appreciate that.”
DO: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Just like a first date, confidence is key. Going into the meeting with the outlook that you deserve this and you’ll nail this is already half the battle towards that sweet pay rise.
“Choose to believe. Believe in yourself and believe in the value you’re adding and believe in the reasonableness of your request, and you’re entirely more likely to have other people believe you in turn. You do deserve more.”
DON’T: LOSE HOPE IF THEY SAY NO
There’s every chance your boss may deny you. If it happens, it’s worth it to ask why and how the decision was made, and to take note as to what they say in return. That said, if the place is just being stingy, it may be worth questioning why you’re even there to begin with.
In any case, it’s always important to pick your battles. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them to schedule another review in the near future.
“It might be that they simply can’t afford it at this point in time. In which case [you ask], “can we discuss a schedule of reviews over a period of time. So maybe an annual pay review, or every six months.””
Remember, you’re only worth as much as you think you are.
*The above article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent financial advice before making any financial decisions.