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How to Negotiate a Raise at Work: Complete Guide

The thought of asking for more money might be uncomfortable for many employees. How do you open that conversation? Read our Guide
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You’ve been burning the midnight oil at work to finish that project, and the results were impressive. You go the client account, and that’s a few million in revenue that you’ll be bringing into the firm this year. Good job.

As a result of landing the deal, and having a full pipeline of prospects to close, you think that you are adding value to your organization. It’s time to find out if your boss agrees. For bringing in million in deals, you believe you are entitled to a raise.

The thought of approaching your boss, and raising the topic of giving you more money might be uncomfortable for many employees. How do you open that conversation? How do you present your case for a raise to give you the best chances of your boss agreeing to the pay increase? What do you do if your boss says no?

All of these questions can leave you feeling dazed and confused about asking for a raise. However, if you think you deserve more monetary compensation for your efforts, then you need to try. This brief guide to getting an increase will help you navigate the process and give you the best chances of a favorable outcome.

Research Your Companies Performance

Before you march into your boss’s office and demand a raise, you need to build a strategy. Do you know how your company is doing financially? In this economy, many businesses are struggling to keep the doors open, and more companies are filing for Chapter 11 as economic conditions tighten.

If your company is struggling financially, then don’t even bother asking your boss for a raise. You’re better off finding another job and using your track record to secure a better starting salary. If your boss is worried about how he will cover payroll and still make debt payments, then he’s unlikely to entertain your request for a raise.

However, if your company is doing well, then that’s a green light to approach your boss for a raise. If you want to know more about your company’s financial health, read the year-end financial statements if they are available.

If there are no statements, then invite the accountant to lunch, or bring them a Starbucks to their office. While you’re there, ask them how the business is doing. There’s no harm I telling them you’re looking to enquire about a raise with the boss. However, in most cases, it’s best to keep that information close to your chest if you can.

After assessing your company’s financial health, you can move forward with the next part of the strategy for getting yourself a raise.

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Set Realistic Expectations

The next part of the plan is to settle on a fixed amount you want for your raise. Wandering into your bosses or manager’s office and demanding an increase might be a start, but then what do you do? What happens when your boss smiles and says, sure, Sophia, but how much do you want?

Having a figure in mind before you head into your boss’s office is a prudent move on your behalf. You can either request a percentage increase, or a dollar-amount increase, depending on your environment. Research shows that most corporates like to go with percentage increases, while small businesses generally prefer to work with dollar amounts.

To calculate how much to ask for in your request for a raise, it’s vital that you understand your worth to the company.

Understand Your Worth

When working out the percentage or dollar amount to ask for in your request for a raise, you need to understand your value to your employer. Using our example earlier of you closing a million-dollar deal for your company is an excellent way to discover your worth.

At first, closing any million-dollar deal might seem impressive. However, if your corporation does billions in revenue every month, it could be a problem. If you should be closing deals for ten or 20-times that amount, all of a sudden, your results don’t seem that impressive.

However, if that million-dollar deal exceeds average performance in your office, then you have grounds for a raise. Your request for an increase should be both rational and reasonable, and you should avoid overstepping your boundaries.

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Wait for Your Performance Review

Before you march into your manager or boss’s office and ask for a raise, have some tact in your approach. There are times and places where this type of request is appropriate and times when it likely to be a bother to your boss.

The last thing you want is to spend days building your expectations and preparing to dazzle your boss with an award-winning speech. What if when you enter his office, you find him in a foul mood as you start to deliver your presentation – what a disaster. Planning the right time to approach your boss or manager is critical in achieving your goal of getting a raise.

We recommend that you wait for your performance review before you pop the question. Your boss or manager sets aside a performance review as a time when they engage with you about your worth to the company – It’s the ideal time to ask for a raise.

During your performance review, your boss or manager is there specifically to talk about your performance, and they don’t have anything else on their agenda. The stage is ready, and now it’s time to implement your case for a raise to your superior.

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Present Your Case – Use Your Achievements

During your performance review, your superior will likely ask you about your performance, what you think of your situation with the company, and what you intend on achieving in the future. If you’ve recently been outperforming your employer’s expectations, and you are looking at good growth in your value to the company, then use this as your opportunity to ask for a raise.

Present your case to your employer by starting with your accolades and achievements. The chances are that your manager or boss is well aware of your recent performance. Therefore, it’s crucial that you don’t use this as an opportunity to brag or gloat. Stay humble and mention that this is only the start, and you intend to get better in the future.

You need to give the impression that you are hungry, and you are building momentum at your position within the company. After showing your boss your conviction and your attitude towards achievements, it’s time to pull the trigger.

Try asking for a raise using this presentation.

  • “(managers name), I believe you have a firm idea of my value as an employee of this firm, are you happy with my performance?”, then wait for a reply.
  • After your boss or manager confirms your question, hit them with this;
  • “I believe I can do more for the firm with some more financial motivation. I want to request a raise in my salary to (enter figure here).”
  • “I understand I need to show performance to match this request. However, as you can see, I have a full pipeline, and I’m hungry to make the company more money.”
  • Then switch it back around on your boss with your closing request.
  • “What would I have to achieve to earn this salary increase?”

If you’re already in your performance review, your employer might offer you a raise. However, there’s a chance that the amount they offer could be less than your expectations. If this is the case, nothing is stopping you from asking for more.

If you feel you are not getting what you deserve, then try using this script;

  •  “(managers name)I’m extremely grateful for your decision to give me this merit increase—thanks for always looking out for my interests. But, (manager name) I was sincerely hoping for (mention preferred amount here) because I’ve outperformed my targets this year. Is there any way you could adjust this increase to reflect my performance?”
  • After that, mention your desired salary in comparison to other market-related offerings.

Stay Positive and Control Your Emotions

It’s vital that you remain in control during your performance review, and when you start to present your case for a raise. Some people might find they fall apart when they want to ask for the increase, and they can’t bring themselves to ask their employer the question.

Other people might receive the first raise offer, bite their lip, and then settle on it as the only option. Both of these scenarios lead to resentment developing in your mind at both your actions and your boss’s inability to determine your worth to the company. As a result, you can expect your performance in the firm to decline.

Your boss values straightforward people who get to the point and have honest intentions. These core values belong to the top business people on the planet, as well. If you present your case with conviction and hold back on your emotions, your boss will take your request seriously.

Embrace other Offerings

Sometimes, employers don’t have the cash available to provide you with an increase in your salary. However, they might still recognize your value to the organization and think that you are worthy of financial rewards for your contributions and future performance.

In this case, your employer might offer alternative offerings instead of cash. It’s common for companies to provide employees with stock options instead of bonuses. Your boss might also present you with an offering for other bonuses such as executive benefits, flexi-time on your working schedule, more vacation time, or incentive bonus programs.

A great example of giving employees stock options over Christmas bonuses is Microsoft. Back in the early years of the company, employees got stock. Years later, reports show that Microsoft employs more millionaire secretaries than any other company in the world.

Don’t discount stock options because it is not cash. There are plenty of other ways your company could incentivize you with a good deal.

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Never Set an Ultimatum

After your request your increase, there’s nothing you can do but wait for your employer’s response to the situation. If they do come back asking you to wait while they make a decision, don’t do something silly like set an ultimatum.

This kind of behavior is childish, and if you think you are irreplaceable, think again. The only thing making an ultimatum will do – is annoy your boss. They are more likely to fire you on the spot than they are to give you a raise at this point.

Your manager might not be able to approve your request on the spot. They might have to confirm it with the boss or speak to the board before they can provide you with any confirmation. Accept the situation, and move forward, there’s nothing you can do until your employer pouts the ball back in your court.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Colleagues

When requesting your increase during your performance interview, keep it about your performance, not others. Comparing yourself to the rest of the staff in the company shows your boss, you are weak. Great leaders and managers never use the crowd as a benchmark for their performance.

If you want your boss to take you seriously, then you need to focus on what you can bring to the table. Don’t compare your performance to others to make yourself look better. Your boss will see through this strategy, and it will affect their final decision on giving you the raise you deserve.

Wrapping Up – Take a “No” As the Start of the Negotiation

Even after you do your best to convince your manager or boss you deserve a raise, there is still a chance they say no. In some cases, your manager or boss might be doing this to test you. If you do receive a no, then push it one step further and ask them why they denied your raise.

Work with your boss and manager to come to terms with something you can both agree on that works for you and the company. If you still don’t get any satisfaction, it might be time to pull out the CV and dust it off.


Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased

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