When I was doing my training I completed a research based dissertation. I chose to research women in the workplace, and how coaching can help them in particular. I created a survey covering various types of issues women face, such as bullying, sexual harassment, career progression and attitudes to women who have had children (more on all those issues another time.)
I also asked them what they found to be difficult or stressful things to deal with in the workplace. And 47% of respondents said that asking for a pay rise was difficult or stressful.
So in this article I will write about how to ask for a pay rise.
Why is it so difficult?
Even in 2015 money is still a taboo subject. Society has conditioned us to feel awkward about discussing it. We are bombarded with stories of people labelled as greedy. But it is natural to want to earn more money in exchange for working harder. And in this world you need to look out for yourself and ask for it. Why be passive when you can be active, and have some input into your career progression?
1. What are you worth?
The key thing to think about is value. How much are you worth to your employer? Before you ask for a pay rise you need to work that out. Take into account your experience, how long you have been in the role, how much you give to the company. Think also about what benefits you have from being in your role: do you get more holiday than in other companies? Extra health insurance? Other than things of monetary value do you feel lucky about the commute, or the company’s flexibility?
Finally, ask for advice. Contact a recruiter in your field and ask what the market rate is for your role if you don’t have any other way of finding it out. Look at job adverts or ask people in similar roles what they earn (may be tough given the money taboo mindset, but there is no harm in asking.) Research will help you find a realistic amount to ask for.
It may be that you realise that you are in fact well paid for the role you do, in which case it may be worth working towards promotion in your company, or possibly looking for another role elsewhere. Look at ways of increasing your value.
And once you have a figure in mind, the salary you want to be earning, you need to prepare for the conversation. Remember you can’t expect your boss to double your salary. So keep it realistic. But don’t undersell yourself either.
2. Pick your moment
There is no point in asking for a pay rise when you are right in the middle of a meeting discussing other stuff, while meeting a stressful deadline, coming out of a client appointment, or even at the pub. Your annual appraisal is an obvious time, but you might not want to wait until then. Set up an appointment with your boss to specifically discuss your role at a time you think he or she will be most open to the idea. When are they least busy in the day or week? I would advise against setting it up last thing on a Friday – even your boss just wants to be back home then. Set it up in a place where you will be able to talk privately, as equals: a quiet meeting room, even a nearby café.
3. Prepare for the conversation
Have a rough idea of what you are going to say, a specific amount you are going to ask for and the compelling reasons you are worth it. Other people getting paid more than you is not a good reason. Neither is the fact you have been there for x number of months, or that you have personal problems.
4. Have the conversation
Be on time.
Stick to your prepared reasons. Don’t babble, stay calm and do not go on the defensive. Threatening to get another job if you don’t get what you want, or giving a sob story about why you need more money will not work in your favour. Stay focussed on your value.
Once you have put your point across and been listened to it is your turn to listen. Don’t interrupt your boss while they answer, just listen.
You have been honest with your boss, it is his or her turn to be honest in return. If the answer is no, never, then you need to reconsider your options. A no, but… can lead you into a constructive conversation where you are given feedback on what you need to do to get a rise or maybe a promotion which would involve a rise.
– Look and behave like the professional you are at all times during the conversation
– No sob stories, defensive behaviour or threats
– Be prepared, both by doing research and by planning what to say
– Be willing to negotiate
– Take a refusal with good grace
– It is normal to be nervous