Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How to get a pay raise.

Supposing your fellow workers think you’re terrific. They always come to you first for advice, you’re constantly busy, the CEO knows who you are (at least, you’ve been introduced to her at the Christmas party!). That, however, is seldom enough to get you a raise. Here are some ideas to help you craft a pitch asking for an increase in your pay packet:

What does the boss think?
First, be clear why you think you’re worth more than you’re currently getting. Then ask yourself why you’re worth that much to your boss? Addressing the issue from the boss’s perspective will help you put together a more persuasive case.

Have you done your homework?
Find out what the salary norms are for your job and the industry you’re working in. Compare roles and activities, not job titles, within the company. Ask your HR department to explain how your role is currently benchmarked.

Don’t mind what others earn.
What other people earn isn’t relevant in this situation. Measuring yourself against others is just a prescription for unhappiness. Your value is all about your individual performance, your competencies, and your experience on the job.

Focus on achievement.
Our lives improve only when we take chances - and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Don’t confuse effort with achievement - the two are quite different. You may be working your socks off, but if you still haven’t achieved the objectives you agreed to at the beginning of the year, you won’t be viewed as a success. A large consideration in any discussion about a pay raise will be your current and past performance.

Think ahead.
Consider how you’ll respond if your manager says yes, no or maybe. Play the conversation over in your mind. Crying, screaming or slamming the door on your way out shouldn’t be part of that script.

Timing is everything.
Be sensitive to how much stress your manager is under and the severity of his workload. If he’s overloaded already, your demands are likely to be viewed as an unwelcome distraction. If your company uses an appraisal system, that’s the right time to negotiate pay and benefits.

Be cool.
Don’t plead or be too aggressive when you argue your case. And don’t issue any pay-up-or-I-quit style ultimatums. Any manager worth his salt won’t give in to that kind of blackmail.

Be prepared.
Most managers like to deal with employees who’ve done their homework beforehand and who get to the point quickly. Under those circumstances, they’re much more likely to engage in an open and honest conversation with you.

Consider other alternatives.
Since pay is the issue, put that on the table first and foremost, but be open to considering other alternatives as well. Think about proposing additional rewards that the firm might find easier to provide, such as additional time off and/or more flexible working hours.

Ask for a new challenge.
If the answer to all of the above is no, ask for a target that will stretch you or ask for new responsibilities to justify the pay increase you want. Most good managers I know say they’d love it if employees asked for that more often than they do. Nine times out of ten, it’s left up to the manager to suggest it, and since the petitioner didn’t take the initiative, they seldom do so.

Finally, if you get a no, that doesn't mean it's no forever, it means not right now. The path to yes is littered with no's. According to the writer, W. Somerset Maugham, "It’s a very funny thing about life - if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."

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