So let me share a secret. A few years ago, I tried to ask for a raise. I was rejected. This is a true story and I’d like to share it.
It all started when I heard what some of my colleagues were earning (never mind that there was no way for me to confirm this and that they were just rumors) more than I was. I was pretty annoyed. I believed that I was doing really well and wanted to address that. So I met with my boss and I told him, “I am underpaid. I heard most of my colleagues are earning more than I am”. His response: “Really?”. I had already lost the battle and when he refused, I asked to speak to his boss and was turned down again. In hindsight, I was emotional and even worse, unprepared for the conversation. Asking for a raise is an unemotional conversation. Emotion doesn’t work. As I have managed teams over the years, this has been proven true over and over again. I have had people speak to me about getting a raise and each time it has been for emotional reasons (for example, I deserve it: Prove it, my bills are really high: live according to your means, I work harder than my colleagues: who says? Are you judging yourself and everyone else?) they’ve been told no. So what does one have to do to get a raise? Prepare! Let’s pretend you were going for a job interview. Would you walk into that interview and pretend that the company owed you the job? Probably not! Approach your discussion in the same way. It doesn’t matter that you are already working in the company and you know all the stakeholders. Leave nothing to chance. Here are a few things that you should do when you want to ask for a raise. I call them the 3Ss of the salary discussion;
Start by doing your research: what is the industry average for someone with your experience? Are you far off from the norm? In my example, I had done no research and just made an assumption that could have easily been disproved. Do your homework.
Showcase your performance: It is important to clearly show why you deserve a raise. Even though I had the results to justify the raise, I didn’t focus on that. In the end, my inability to showcase my results which would have made a much stronger argument hurt my cause.
Strengthen your stakeholder management: the decision about your raise starts with your manager but there so many other stakeholders involved. Make sure you are clear on who and make the time to speak with each of them. Set a clear agenda so that they are also prepared for the conversation. When I met with my boss, he had no idea I wanted to talk about a raise. He was unprepared and it made him defensive. In addition, I had no conversation with the HR team or other senior managers who could lend their voice to the conversation. Not a smart move on my part.
Finally, you may do all the above and not get the raise you want immediately (for a bunch of different reasons) but at the very least you are on their radar. Don’t feel rejected. Get a commitment as to when you can have this conversation again.
Good luck and for more tips, here is a good article to read.
In case the rejection is due to a company culture, how can you address that?