Friday, August 10, 2007

Asking for (Another) Raise

Last week I wrote a post about the raise that I recently received and the interesting circumstances surrounding that raise. If you read that post, you know that I did not receive the full raise I was asking for. This created an interesting challenge for me: how do I communicate the fact that I am not entirely satisfied with my raise, without coming off as greedy, ungrateful or selfish. Here is the strategy that I came up with, which I think is applicable in many similar cases:

1. Thank the Boss - as someone who runs a team, I know that if I make an effort for one of my team members, it is personally important to me that the employee acknowledge my efforts on his behalf. Even though I did not get everything I was asking for, it is clear to me that my boss went to bat for me, pushed for my interests and essentially put her credibility behind my request. Therefore, when my boss officially told me of the amount of the raise and gave me the paperwork (about a week after I received the actual raise in my paycheck), I thanked her warmly and shook her hand. I candidly told her that I appreciated her hard work on my behalf and thanked her for what she was able to obtain for me. Bosses are humans too and like every other person on the planet, they appreciate it when their work is recognized.

2. Do Not Immediately Ask for Another Raise - I strongly feel that it is not appropriate to express outright dissatisfaction with a raise you just received when speaking with your boss. That would send the wrong message. Even worse, it would be counter-productive since your boss would get the feeling that you do not appreciate his or her efforts on your behalf. Why try do to more for you if all they get is a sour face?

3. Setting Expectations is OK - although it is not a good idea to ask for another increase as you are receiving news of your raise, it is very much OK to set the correct expectations, as long as you do so professionally, courteously and in a positive manner. When my boss gave me the raise document, I thanked her for her efforts, and commented that I am very happy with my raise and did not expect that we would be able to get to my market compensation level all at once. By doing that, I believe that I both created good will with my boss and set the expectation that I do not consider my new compensation level to be satisfactory in the long run. In asking for an increase, you want your boss as an ally, not an adversary.

4. Support Your Claims - providing detailed documentation as to your market value makes salary negotiations a whole lot easier. If you provided such documentation prior to being told about your raise, you can always use those materials later down the road to support your new bid for a raise. Every professional should develop an understanding of his true market value, whether or not he is re-negotiating his compensation package. To find out more information about how to achieve this, take a look at my previous post on the subject.

Since I provided a written raise request to my boss, and supported it with extensive market salary data that I carefully obtained over several months, nobody will be surprised when I bring up the issue of compensation again.

5. Make a Plan - it is a generally correct statement that the act of making a plan substantially increases your chances for achieving your goal. Salary negotiations are no exception. I strongly recommend making a plan for where you think your compensation should be, what process you will follow to achieve this goal and when you would like to achieve it. My goal is to obtain another 15% raise within the next 12 months, and my plan? You've just read it.

Stay tuned. The next battle in the compensation war is scheduled for December, and reports from the battlefield will be broadcast on this station, with the briefest of delays.

In my next post, I will look at compensation negotiations from the other side. One of my employees has been re-negotiating his compensation package with me. I'll tell you about some of the errors I think he is making and how to avoid them when negotiating your own compensation.


Eric said...

I think the only thing I would ad, is to have a plan b. A worse case scenario of if he says no. If your are not willing to quit, then ask your boss when he would expect to be able to give you the raise you deserve.

plonkee said...

I am struggling with the idea that you are not paid the amount that you are due. I hope that if you are genuinely paid less than the market value, you have a very up to date cv - a company that won't pay what you are worth does not engender trust.

Shadox said...

Eric - since they abolished slavery leaving your job is a viable option for pretty much everyone. Sadly, one of the best ways to get a raise is to move to the same job in a different company. Bizzarly, companies are willing to pay more for new hires than the are willing to pay to their existing more experienced staff.

Plonkee - my story is an interesting one. I accepted an offer with my company two and a half years ago, knowing full well that I would be under-compensated. In fact, I took a pay-cut. I did this because my new position allowed me to enter into a new industry that I really wanted to break into and allowed me to do so in a company that is clearly a major player in its industry. This will pay off long term. With respect to moving to a new position - I will stick with my employer for the next 12 months or so, and then all bets are off. I will, for now, keep my reasoning for this timeline to myself, but will share it at a later date.

Gordon, the Pay Raise Maniac said...

If you'd like to ask for another raise, you should wait at least 6 months, but one year is recommended.
In my opinion, you can ask for a pay raise twice a year, if you do not exceed the 15% limit (total).