Looking For a Pay Rise?

October 5, 2022

Here’s some advice and tips on how to navigate that conversation.

Talking about money, asking for a pay rise or speaking about your “worth” as an employee can be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

Decisions about pay are usually in the hands of your direct managers and are influenced by an employee assessment and a company’s performance. As an individual, you may not have as much influence on your company’s overall performance as you would like, but your own actions within the company are in your control, and up to you to highlight them when asking for a salary increase. Thusly, every conversation about a pay rise must begin with a personal consideration of what value you, as an individual, bring to the business.

Though it doesn’t hurt to ask for a pay rise, remember that timing is everything: Have there been any layoffs? Is the company doing well financially? And, most importantly, are you a superior performer?

Once you’ve made up your mind to approach your manager, the following tips should help you navigate the conversation, and hopefully get the financial compensation you are looking for.

1. Know your worth. You should be able to refer to tangible, concrete things that you’ve accomplished which show your performance. Tracking performance using the relevant metric of productivity for your role (hours worked, words typed, presentations given, sales figures, etc…) will ensure that your ask appears based in reality. Be prepared to take a look at yourself and realize whether you do actually deserve the rise in pay.

2. Emphasize your potential. Remember that employers give pay rises on the promise of future productivity. Every employee is an investment. If you want more money you have to demonstrate your potential to grow as an employee. Are you taking any courses? These days “taking a course” doesn’t have to mean going back to school full time, or even regularly. There are a lot of courses that can be taken online at your own leisure (i.e.coursera.com), which show that you are dedicated to learning without demanding too much of your finite time. Are you doing any reading that gives you insight into the future of your business? If so, be sure to mention these things and emphasize that you are a more valuable employee today than you were when you started.

3. Consider what your boss needs from you. Naturally, you want better pay. But what does your employer need? This is most important to consider during the actual conversation. Always emphasize your ability to do the job and help your organization, rather than what you feel entitled to.

4. Arrange a meeting. This is not a conversation to be had casually over coffee in the breakroom. You want your boss’s full attention, and you want an opportunity to make your points in a calm, concise manner. It is worth waiting for a time when your boss can actually take the time to consider your points and engage in a proper discussion with you. So arrange a meeting in advance, ideally on a day that is not very busy, and at a time of day when you are most likely to get the most of the conversation (and least likely to seem like you’re imposing).

5. Practice beforehand. As with any difficult conversation, it is useful to rehearse what you want to say with a conscientious friend. Often, we have to speak aloud or “hear” ourselves to properly organize our thoughts. You want to come across as self-assured, knowledgeable and –very importantly—affable. This is meant to be a constructive conversation for both parties, and a good friend will let you know if/when you sound unprepared, nervous –or worse– argumentative. Because of the potential for awkwardness in this sort of conversation, it is a good idea to smooth out any potential conflicts that might arise so you can be calmer and more confident when it counts.

6. Stay positive. At no point should this encounter feel like an argument or a confrontation, or a list of complaints. The conversation may not go how you like it. Your boss may be unreceptive to your needs. But as long as the goal is to get a pay rise, you will not succeed if you put your boss in a defensive position.

Securing a pay rise isn’t guaranteed, but being transparent, and prepared in your meeting with your boss is a great way to get them on your side and for them to see the value you bring to the company. 

Always remember to conduct yourself in a professional and confident manner.