Virtually every employee in every company wonders from time to time whether they could get away with requesting more money, but they don’t know how to ask for a raise. Some may feel self-conscious about the idea. Others are unsure whether they deserve pay raises. Ultimately, it’s important for every employee to carefully consider whether their performance, skills, and experience are fairly compensated by their employers.
The old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” proves true when it comes to asking for a raise: you won’t get one unless you try, aside from the typical annual pay increases most employers offer. If you feel like you’re underpaid for the value you provide to your employer, it’s time to consider asking for a better pay rate. The following tips can help you determine how to ask for a raise and approach the process with greater confidence.
Preparation is one of the core components of any successful negotiation, whether you’re planning on asking your boss for a raise or getting ready to meet with a potential business partner to discuss a contract. The Shapiro Negotiations Prep Planner is as useful in salary negotiations within an organization as it is in business negotiations with other companies and stakeholders. The concept is straightforward, but it requires keen attention to detail.
To prepare for your salary negotiation, start by researching your position within your industry and compare your current pay to the industry average. However, it’s important to keep several factors in mind if you notice a significant difference in the supposed average and your current take-home pay. First, you need to account for your geographical location. Compare your pay to the average for equivalent positions in the area; it doesn’t do you any good to compare your pay to that of an equivalent position on the other side of the country. A project manager in Miami will make a different amount than a project manager in Indianapolis. Keep your research contained to your metropolitan area or state.
Once you narrow down the scope of your compensation research by location, consider other factors such as how long you have worked for the company, average rate of pay increases for positions similar to yours in the industry, and the professional credentials you bring to the table. For example, if two people apply to the same position and meet all the necessary criteria but one candidate has five more years of practical experience than the other, the more experienced candidate not only has a better chance of being hired, but also a better chance of securing higher pay when accepting the job.
Two: Consider the Timing
There is a right time and a wrong time to ask for a raise. If your organization is currently in a busy season, a recent market shift has caused a major upheaval to your typical operations, or your company is launching a new product or service, these events put additional strain on every level of the organization. Asking for a raise during tumultuous times is a good way to irritate your supervisor. Instead, do your best work to contribute to the organization’s success during these busy periods and wait for the dust to settle before broaching the subject. In some cases, your contributions toward pushing the company through a difficult time could be the tipping point that makes your supervisor want to compensate you better.
Three: Avoid Being the First to Mention a Monetary Figure
A good rule to follow when it comes to how to ask for a raise is to never be the first one to mention an exact monetary figure. Ideally, you should maneuver the conversation in such a way that your boss suggests a figure instead. If you start a conversation and immediately turn to the subject of money, or worse, suggest a figure right off the bat, you not only run the risk of irritating your supervisor but also nullify any potential negotiating leverage you might have had. Instead, make an appointment in advance and begin a dialogue.
It’s common knowledge in the business world that when it comes to negotiations, the first party to mention money loses. Keep this in mind as you begin the dialogue with your supervisor. A good tactic is to begin with light small talk before moving into discussing your current project, then ease into the subject of the research you’ve done into compensation for your position. There’s nothing wrong with knowing your worth and respectfully reminding your employer of it as you begin a discussion about your compensation.
Four: Be Flexible in Your Expectations
You could have your heart set on an additional $5,000 or $10,000 per year, but this may be outside the realm of possibilities in your company, even if your supervisor is willing to negotiate your pay. If your discussion about your compensation seems to go smoothly and you believe your supervisor wants to increase your rate but company policy prevents them from making the decision, consider adjusting your approach and ask for additional benefits instead.
Depending on the type of work you do, remote work is a great way to gain additional flexibility and freedom in your day-to-day operations. You could not only ask for occasional remote workdays, but also ask for an increase to your accrual rate for paid time off or vacation time. Additionally, if you recently experienced any major life changes, such as an engagement or pregnancy, it’s good to bring these issues up as soon as possible so your supervisor can consider potential adjustments to your pay and benefits package that not only increase your overall compensation but also ensure you remain a steadfast member of the team.
Five: Share Your Goals and Ask for Guidance
Another great tactic when it comes to how to ask for a raise is to start a dialogue with your supervisor about your personal income goals. Let your supervisor know how much you hope to earn or what position you would like to reach within the organization, then ask for suggestions for making it happen. You could be pleasantly surprised by their response. Steering the conversation in a direction that indicates you are happy with your employer and want to provide as much value as possible to the company shows your supervisor that you are a reliable employee with goals that align with the company’s. If your measurable performance history shows as much, then your supervisor will likely have little reason not to consider your offer.
Hopefully, these tips provide you with a solid foundation on which to build your strategy for asking for a raise. This can be a daunting subject for many employees across all industries, but careful preparation, timing, and the right wording can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of a discussion about a pay raise. Shapiro Negotiations offers a wide range of negotiation training resources and courses for individuals and organizations. Contact us today for more details about the negotiation training we offer.