How to ask for a raise…and get it!

This is quite an interesting topic, to begin with, and I am sure leadership, mid-managers and beginners will be equally interested in it, albeit for different reasons!

Many are not even sure how to broach this tricky question, who to ask for it, and what are the chances that it will get through. Raises are usually based on performance appraisals and come by annually or biannually. But there could be situations in which raises are due out of turn, asked for when an employee is dissatisfied at work, promised as a retention strategy or used as a carrot during the hiring process.

Well, then why is asking for a raise and getting one a dreaded professional hazard? Why do most of us refrain from asking for a raise when we feel overworked and underpaid? Is a raise a favor or a right?

In the case of women, asking for a raise becomes even trickier. If they have availed a maternity leave or one is due soon, a raise is often seen as an impossibility. Though, of course, it is not said directly but is put as “normalized” across the company. Women, on the other hand systematically underestimate their own abilities and do not negotiate for themselves fairly, often leaving them underpaid and overworked.

How to ensure you get the expected raise:

  1. Have a written communication: Instead of having a face to face talk about a raise, it is more professional to drop an email stating the expectation. After a formal discussion with your boss, be sure to request him/her to drop you a revert email with the details of agreed raise and effective date. If the boss fails to do so, you can send an email to him with the details seeking his acknowledgment.
  2. Keep HR in the loop: It’s a good idea to keep your conversation with the HR and the boss transparent. Many a times bosses/managers make promises with no intention of sticking to them, of which the HR is unaware of.
  3. Do not wait for the annual appraisal to ask for a raise: Make your expectations clear quite ahead of the appraisal time, so that your boss knows he is going to have to deal with your expectations.
  4. Do not hesitate to initiate a discussion: It is always better to initiate a discussion than to being a demotivated employee. Sometimes, bosses are just too busy to remember acting upon the promised raise. At times a simple reminder can resolve the issue.
  5. Do not let the frustration impact your work or come across to your clients: Be professional and never let the raise issue result in a shoddy project. Worse still, never discuss your raise with the end client.
  6. Journal your achievements, contributions, and client feedback: It is a best practice to save good client feedback, project feedback, and any communication that highlights your individual effort and contribution. This may come handy while discussing with your manager in justifying your request for a raise.
  7. Focus on what you bring to the table and not on your needs: Limit your discussion around your contribution, efforts, and ability and don’t deviate to include that the raise will help you pay your EMIs. Begging for a raise on grounds any other than professional is absolutely not acceptable.
  8. Do not hesitate to escalate: If you feel that your boss or the concerned HR is not pushing your case through rather are being roadblocks, do not hesitate to escalate to the senior leadership. When you escalate, build your case with proper mail trails, documented evidence and groundwork that sets the ball rolling.
  9. Do not discuss your talks with HR or your boss in the cafeteria: Keep it to yourself or maybe just a select few. Demotivation in contagious, so it’s important that we not be guilty of spreading it.
  10. Deliver first: Be willing and enthusiastic to take responsibilities of the next level if possible for a few weeks or months without the pay. At times it’s not a bad idea to settle for the title without the perk. This will build a solid ground for negotiation.
  11. Do not compare or quote other colleagues raises: Once again focus only on your case which is unique and standalone. Don’t use other people’s raises as reference points during a discussion.
  12. Time your request well: If you know that the company is doing great financially this quarter, then your request might just be accepted in a moment. On the contrary, if the economy is in a bad shape and layoffs are frequent in your company, you might just want to hold your request for some more time.
  13. If nothing seems to work, quit, don’t threaten to quit: If you think you have waited for enough and don’t see the raise coming through anytime soon, start looking out for a better opportunity. Don’t keep threatening that you will quit. When you find the next best fit just quit.
  14. Do not accept the raise that is offered as a retention strategy once you have quit: Well, this is my personal take. It’s a bad idea to accept the raise after handing over your resignation letter. It makes your resignation seem staged! Moreover, it is also unjust for the company that spent its time and effort in interviewing you and offering you the job. Keeping it straight is best.

A raise is not a personal favor.

A raise must be always justified, deserved and timely. Losing a great employee for a trivial raise is like being penny wise and pound foolish!

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