By Laura C. Browne
You may be reluctant to talk about raises this year because of the difficult economic situation. You may just be grateful you have a job. Even so, you should make sure your company knows how valuable you are so you can be first in line to get a raise when your company’s profits begin to increase.
If you’re like most women, asking for a raise is uncomfortable. It’s not easy to discuss money, however, here are some practical tips that can help you get started now:
1) Build a business case with reasons you should get a raise
Before you ask your boss for a raise, you need answer one very important question “What do you do at work that deserves a raise?” Sure you work hard but companies are looking for results that positively affect the bottom line. Let’s ask the question a different way. “What do you do that makes or saves money for the company?” Once you clearly understand that, it will be easier for you to build a business case for your raise.
Think about this in terms of “increased” and “reduced.” Have you increased profits, customer satisfaction or numbers of orders for your company’s products? Have you reduced expenses, customer complaints, product development time, or customer response time?
No matter what part of the company you work in, you can make a difference. For example, if you’re in accounting, you might have worked on a new system that helps customers quickly resolve billing issues so invoices get paid faster.
After you realize how your job affects the bottom line, you should start sending Results Updates to your boss to help him or her understand your value. Results Updates should consist of a few bullet points about your accomplishments and how they help the company. I recommend sending them to your boss every week or two. You can use these to remind your boss when you ask for a raise.
2) Clearly and calmly ask for a raise
You should ask for a raise in a calm and professional way just like you would ask for resources on a project. If raises have been frozen, let your boss know you realize it’s still a difficult economic situation for the company and you’re positioning yourself for an increase when raise dollars are available.
Start the meeting by thanking your boss and maintain a positive attitude throughout the discussion. Be confident in your message but add a smile to keep the meeting friendly. Review information that shows your value and clearly ask for a raise.
Then stop talking. See what your manager has to say. Even if they agree you deserve a raise, they won’t be able to say yes on the spot. No matter what the answer is, be prepared to respond in a non-emotional and positive way. If the answer is no, ask for more information by using open-ended questions such as, “Can you help me to understand what the issue is?” “What would have to change for me to get a raise?”
3) Work with your boss
You should view your boss as an ally. It’s very likely your boss would like to pay you more to keep you motivated and loyal. Unfortunately funds are limited and your boss may need to negotiate with their managers and Human Resources.
How can you help your boss negotiate for you? Ask your boss what they think would be most helpful. Do they want reports, customer comments or a brief list of accomplishments? Let your boss know how much you appreciate their help and willingness to support your raise request with others.
Keep in mind that whether you get a raise or not may simply be a financial decision based on profits. Don’t take it personally.
It’s not easy to have a raise discussion, but you can prepare and practice so you’ll be ready when you talk to your boss. So don’t wait, start now to emphasize your value to the company and begin to open the dialogue about raises so you can get the raise you deserve.
Laura C. Browne has more than 20 years experience as a corporate trainer and manager and is passionate about giving women the guidance and communication skills necessary to overcome and be successful despite workplace and gender-specific challenges. For almost ten years, women from Fortune 1000 companies have turned to Laura for career guidance and training. Laura is the author of Raise Rules for Women: How To Make More Money At Work and Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work (both titles available on Amazon Kindle).
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