With the exception of problems ‘down there’ or developing a thing for your girlfriend’s mum, few subjects are as sensitive as asking for a pay rise – especially in today’s hamstrung economic climate. That’s not to say, it can’t be done, however.
Careers coach Simon North, co-founder and director of careers consultancy Position Ignition, tells you how to nail that salary rise we – and by that we mean your doting parents – know you deserve.
“If we look at this from the organisation’s point of view in the medium to long term, it’s clear it will want to keep hold of its best people and retention is always a tough challenge for organisations. Knowing who is good and worth keeping is as much an art as it is science. Many organisations do not really understand the level of talented people that they employ.
“This is an important point to remember when asking yourself ‘should you be worth more?’ it’s important to understand your value, how familiar you are with the market rate for what you do and where you are relative to those benchmarks will give you a good idea of what you should be worth to an organisation. You need to look carefully at how good your current performance is, perhaps what the organisation or your managers have said about how well you are performing and how valuable your contribution is to the business.
“There is also the question of potential and how much you know of the view your organisation has of your potential. Very often we don’t know or have a completely different view to the organisation. If you don’t research this with trusted colleagues or mentors you could find yourself fighting a losing battle.
“When it comes to talking about reward for our work, we are all too often fixated with money. One way of making this easier on the organisation is to request a bonus scheme as this may be more acceptable in the current climate particularly because it is based on delivering on your objectives and targets and often paid at a later date. Perhaps there is another form of reward you would prefer and might be considered a more cost effective option for an employer, such as more flexibility on hours, working less hours, having more time off etc. Often organisations can offer benefits believing they cost little but the value to the employee may be very different.
“It’s important to know where your organisation is going in the future as this will indicate whether a pay rise or further benefits are feasible or not. You need to find out where you fit in an organisation’s future plan and if you are key to its strategy as this will provide some leverage in your negotiations. You may also find out that you don’t have a future at all and perhaps it’s time to reconsider, either way this information is crucial to your next career steps and it’s better to know sooner rather than later.”
When is the best time to ask for a pay rise?
“A good time to approach a pay rise is around the time of any annual pay review. At this point your line manager will be your likely advocate and sponsor when looking to negotiate a salary increase. However, if you have a specific issue on your mind mid-way through the year, don’t ignore it. Pick your moment to discuss this with your employer wisely.”
If my company doesn’t have an annual pay review/performance evaluation, how should I approach my employer?
“Rather than attempting to make the appointment in isolation, drop it into the context of another conversation. If you ask your employer for some time to talk about a current project there may be an appropriate time to bring up the topic of a pay rise. Money is always going to be an emotional issue and picking the wrong moment to approach the subject of a pay rise could create a reputation within the management that you may not want to have.
What’s the best time of day to have this meeting?
“After lunch. Having eaten and with their blood sugars higher, it is a better time to broach tough subjects.”
Is it best to ask for more than you want?
“Ask for a pay rise that reflects your value by using as much reason, logic and rationale as possible. If you understand your organisation and are aware to what is happening internally this will help. If your organisation is losing money, you may still be awarded a pay rise if you are exceeding expectations and performing well above your peers.
“If by asking for a pay rise you are adding to the pressure of your organisation, your employer is ultimately going to say no to your request and you could be putting work relationships at risk. You need to be aware of your organisation and be sensitised to its circumstances, particularly in the current economic climate.”
What preparation can be done beforehand?
“You need to do as much research as you possibly can to understand your value. Try to benchmark yourself against those in your organisation if this is possible, as pay is not always transparent. You will be able to find published data online and by speaking to others in the same sector or similar organisations. Do your research carefully and accurately – if you use this data inappropriately you are at risk of looking stupid and conceited."
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