Asking for a pay rise can be one of the trickiest meetings we have at work, so here is some food for thought before you take the plunge – and then some advice on how to have that conversation.
Know what the role is worth. Remember it is the role that commands the salary, not you. Your skills and experience should be a good match for the job, but if you take a role that doesn’t use them, you can’t expect to be paid for them.
Do some research to find out what similar jobs pay, using job ads and job profiles, such as those here that give guideline wages. You will come up with a range; your next step is to honestly weigh up where you think you fit with in the band. If your supervise others, have oodles of experience and above average productivity, you may well deserve pay nearer the top of the band.
See it from your employer’s point of view
Employers constantly walk a fine line between being prudent with their money, and wanting to reward their workers. They are also at the mercy of the economy and what the market will bear. Some have the flexibility to be able to increase wages, others are tied by the structures and procedures that most large organisations have. Recognising their restrictions will help you see the situation from their point of view.
Employee surveys often reveal that most of us think we should be paid more, and realistically, in these difficult times, sometimes employers just can’t afford to spend more money. This doesn’t have to be an impasse. Is there anything else your employer may be able to do for you that has value for you? For example, could your hours be altered to be more convenient to you? Could you find a way to produce the same output in slightly less hours? Or improve your employer’s profit margin so he can afford to pay you more? Some companies now offer extra or voluntary unpaid holidays instead of more pay. Of course, it depends on the nature of the business, but having a couple of suggestions to offer can help your cause.
Make yourself worth more
Look around your place of work and put your thinking cap on. What does your employer need the team to be able to do well? Are there gaps? Is there any skill or knowledge you have, or could acquire, that would increase your value? Try to identify a couple of areas you could develop.
So, by the time you reach the conversation, hopefully you will have:
- Researched and identified the going rate for the job
- Thought about other forms of value the employer could offer you
- Identified ways of increasing your value
- Considered the employer’s perspective
Make the conversation win/win
A discussion handled badly could cause a rift, so make it your aim to preserve – or even improve – your relationship with your line manager. Choose a time when you have your boss’s full attention. Remain pleasant and non confrontational – view it as two colleagues trying to reach an agreement, rather than being defensive or at loggerheads. There is more about how to negotiate in Face to Face in the Workplace.
It could be good to begin by reminding your boss of the contribution you make- problems you have solved, targets exceeded etc. Sometimes managers have their finger on the pulse, but it is possible to overlook things. It also helps you achieve a balance by bringing positive things to the table, rather than just wanting to take.
Once you feel you have established that your boss agrees with your assessment (if s/he doesn’t, you need a different conversation!) you are in a position to move onto asking if a pay rise is possible.
It’s likely that you won’t get an answer straight away, your manager may want some time to consider it. If you get a Yes – Well done! Make sure your boss knows you will be worth the investment.
If it’s a No , some of your options during the meeting are:
- Raise the other ideas you have that add value to you
- Ask what you can do to increase your worth to the company , or do to prove yourself– hopefully you will have suggestions too.
- Ask when you can discuss the subject again. Suggest three months if you get the opportunity.
Remember to thank your manager the time and attention given to you. If all else fails, dust off your CV, polish it and start looking for a new position with better wages. But remember, although we complain about money, there are many other factors to consider before throwing in the towel!
By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
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