The best way to ask for a raise or a promotion...and, God forbid, handle a 'no'
Managers often feel that they should not have to ask for a raise or promotion; their work speaks for itself and reward and recognition should come to them. But career minded managers must realise that they have as much responsibility for managing their career as their employer. If you feel you are not being paid as much as you deserve, here are some ideas to help you.
- Do you have a strong business case for this request? Is it strong enough to match the performance of individuals who are currently at the level to which you aspire?
- What is the system within your organisation’s system well-defined and properly followed?
- Is it up to you to demonstrate your worth and then to set about obtaining it within your organisation? What is an equivalent role worth elsewhere?
- Who is responsible for the final decision — your boss or a team of people?
- Are you assertive enough to pursue what you want with confidence?
- What happens if you don’t succeed in getting more?
Preparation is key
You must have a thoughtful, justified business case which is clear and based on something more than your own sense of ambition and self-worth. You must also understand the likely position and response of management.
Sometimes, however much you deserve a raise, the funds are simply not available. Management must also consider the impact of whatever they give you on others.
Ask, don’t demand
Often the best way to approach negotiations around pay and position is to ask questions about the organisation’s view on you. It may be that what you want is just around the corner. Equally, the organisation may have a very different view of your future and asking for a raise or promotion is futile.
In many organisations there are salary bands; movement to a higher band is subject to specific, measurable criteria.
In this type of organisation there is a clear and formal process to follow and there is little to be gained by trying to buck the system. In smaller or more informal organisations, it’s more appropriate to ask for what you believe you deserve because there is no structured system in place. Here you will need to influence and negotiate your way to a better package.
Part of making your case for a raise should be seeking senior people who are prepared to champion your cause. Being able to say that the head of another department believes your case to be deserving can be a significant influencer. It’s even better if these champions can have a quiet word on your behalf.
Differentiate between reward and responsibility
There is a difference between asking for more money and asking for more responsibility. A new title or responsibilities at the same salary is often more palatable. Perhaps you can agree that your salary will be reviewed after six months in post.
If you are not sure about the answer, think hard before asking the question
Properly done, asking for a raise or a promotion should not be traumatic. Ideally you should have little doubt about the outcome. The worst case scenario should be that you leave the meeting with a very clear sense of where and how you need to improve in order to get what you want. Try to get a timescale around this and an agreement that achieving the targets set will lead to a salary increase and/or a change of position.
If you don’t get what you want immediately don’t act in haste. Be calm, carry on as normal whilst looking for ways to develop your career. Being a bad loser will win you no respect.
Above all, don’t go into the meeting threatening to leave, unless you really mean it, walking the talk could mean walking the plank.
If you feel so strongly that you will leave if you do not get what you want, you should either have something lined up to go to or accept the decision gracefully and then seek a new position. This allows you to leave on your own terms.
This article is based on an excerpt from the book The Top 50 Management Dilemmas: Fast Solutions to Everyday Problems by Roger Delves, director of the Ashridge Masters in Management, and Sona Sherratt, Ashridge Faculty member and leadership expert. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect newspaper’s policy.
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