If you’re like most people, bringing up financial matters — including asking for a raise — is uncomfortable, and something you avoid whenever possible. But should you avoid requesting a raise? Being able to have open and honest discussions with your manager about your compensation is an important part of advancing your career. Having these discussions with your employer are as much an art as a science. Read on to learn how to negotiate a raise.
Timing is Everything
Asking for a pay raise is all about timing. Is your company coming off a really outstanding year, or do you see managers tightening their belts? If your company had a record-setting year, your manager likely has more room in their budget to offer higher raises and potential bonuses. Understanding your company’s financial picture will help when you’re looking to open the door to conversations about raises, while helping you appear as though you’re in touch with what’s going on. When speaking with your manager, start by discussing the company’s financial outlook, and how you contribute to the bottom line and the success of the company.
Do Your Research
As you’re deciding how to ask your boss for a raise, you’ll want to do your research. Find out what your peers are making in similar roles at area companies. Websites like Salary.com, Salary Expert and Payscale can be very helpful. Understanding the salary average can help open the door to producing the results you want. Open the discussion with what skills you have and where you want to take your career. Discuss compensation at similar companies in your area. Your manager will want to remain competitive with other local companies and will likely do her own salary research for similar positions.
Understand Your Value
Have you accomplished big things this year? Have you worked to solve a major pain-point, or streamlined processes to create efficiencies that contributed to cost savings for the company? If you have contributed above and beyond your normal job responsibilities, it might be a good time to revisit your compensation with your manager. Rather than wait to discuss your accomplishments once a year during your review, highlight your accomplishments throughout the year. Your manager likely knows what an asset you are to the team, but regular reminders help bolster your case when you are ready to discuss raises.
Check Your Feelings at the Door
Discussing compensation can make people emotional, but it’s best to remember that your raise isn’t personal — it’s business. If your raise isn’t what you were expecting, try to understand why: Is the company having a slower year? Is the company cutting back on expenses? These factors can definitely affect your raise. On the other hand, if your raise is smaller than expected, it could be tied to your performance. Ask your manager about concrete things you can do to improve, and ask to revisit the conversation in six months after you have been able in incorporate his or her suggestions.
If you are looking to earn more, ask your manager to give you suggestions on how you can improve your performance. Your manager might suggest volunteering for additional committees or projects, taking more interest in leadership opportunities, or looking for cost-saving efficiencies. Accept this constructive criticism, and revisit the conversation when you have had a chance to incorporate their suggestions. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback throughout this process — show your manager you are invested in improving.
What Not to Say
We get it — life happens. Maybe you have some major medical bills or are saving to buy a house, and you feel that a raise would really help. However, remember your compensation is not about your financial need, but rather about the value you bring to the company. When discussing a raise with your manager, focus on what value you add to the team and the company, and not on your increased expenses.
It can be uncomfortable to initiate a conversation about your compensation with your manager, but it could be a chance to have a productive dialog about your job performance. It’s likely that your manager recognizes your value to the team and is open to the idea of giving you a well-deserved raise. However, if a raise isn’t in the cards for your department or company right now, your manager may want to show you how valued you are in other ways, possibly with additional vacation days or a one-time bonus.
When you do have a successful conversation and get your hard-earned raise, make the most of it! Meet with your Farm Bureau agent and make sure you have a financial plan in place for your added income, with investment advice and budgeting tools.