Last week I wrote a post about How to Ask for (Another) Raise, which explored my strategy for increasing my compensation and my discussions about the topic with my boss. Today's article is a mirror image of that other post. It's about one of my team members asking me for a raise. This article may seem a little heartless to some of my readers, but I assure you, what I describe below is the way that the vast majority of managers think about the topic of salary discussions with their team members.
Here are some of the things that you should never do when asking your boss for a raise. Believe it or not, the team member that I am referring to has made every one of these errors:
1. Don't Give Me Ultimatums - making statements like "it's now or never", give your boss an incentive to say: "OK, never". Do you seriously think that threatening me is going to increase the chances that I will fight for your raise? If you want to leave, leave. Don't tell me you are going to do so.
2. Don't Bug Me - do you think that you are helping your case by bringing up the topic of a pay increase every time you get me alone for 3 seconds? Instead of making your case, you are simply antagonizing me. There is a time and a place for everything, and compulsively raising the issue twice a week is not the way to go.
3. Your Financial Issues are Not My Concern - a manager's job is to manage his team. One of his responsibilities is making sure that his team members are well compensated, in accordance with their performance. Notice I didn't say in accordance with their financial challenges or personal needs. Happily, we are living in a capitalist society, not a communist one. The fact that you decided to buy a house, are thinking of buying a new car or are planning to have another child, are completely irrelevant to me when we are discussing your compensation. I don't hand out raises to those that most need them, I award raises to those on my team who perform best and that I most want to retain.
4. Do Your Homework - before you ask me for a raise do your homework and figure out your market value. Seriously, have you heard of salary.com? Also, before we talk turkey, do you have a good sense of what I think of your performance? Are you considered a star performer or are you scraping by? If you are asking for higher than average market pay for your level of responsibility and performance, all I see is someone who has an inflated and unrealistic self image.
5. Don't Gossip - if another manager comes to me and tells me that you have been speaking to him about your salary negotiations, you are not going on my list of "people to help". If my boss tells me that you have been going directly to her to ask about your compensation, you are not winning me as an ally. In case you missed it, the previous sentence was an understatement.
Here is the bottom line. Finding, recruiting and training a new employee to replace a perfectly good team member is a huge headache for a manager. If your manager has come to rely on your expertise and advice, he will do everything he can to keep you on his team. That means he is very likely to fight for the raise that you are requesting. Moreover, your manager may have a personal stake in getting you the highest raise possible. If my team is well compensated, I am likely to be even better compensated. I have some skin in that game.
Simultaneously, employees should recognize that managers never have enough budget for everything they want to accomplish or for all the pay increase requests they receive. As such, managers need to make some hard choices. When given the choice between giving a raise to a star-performer, who has made a good case for his salary increase; and giving a raise to a complaining, threatening employee who goes above your head or gossips with other managers, who do you think will be getting that increase?