Taken from ‘Pass Your Exam, Get That Job and Build a Career’ by V. Charles Ward. To be released 1 January 2019. Pre-order Now!
Asking for a pay rise is one of the most difficult conversations you will ever face. It has to be handled tactfully. If you don’t ask, you will never get. But approaching it in the wrong way can sour any working relationship.
Never ‘demand’ a pay rise. Because if you ‘demand’ and if the company don’t capitulate, what are you going to do? Quit your job? And if you quit your job, do you already have a better job to walk into tomorrow? Unfortunately in this situation it is the company which holds all the cards. They don’t have a mortgage to pay. And they won’t want to be seen to have capitulated. It will send the wrong message. If they capitulate to you, everyone else will be lining up for a pay rise.
So don’t ‘demand.’ Instead invite the employer to ‘consider’ paying you more money. Putting it that way is less confrontational. It means that you are leaving it entirely up to the employer to decide whether or not you are worthy of better remuneration terms. As far as you are concerned there is ‘no issue’. You are happy to go with whatever the employer decides. The worst case scenario is that you get back a flat ‘no’. In which case life carries on as before. No one has lost face. And you at least know where you stand and can plan accordingly.
But what is more likely to happen is that you will have an opportunity to put your ‘case’ for a pay increase. So what ‘case’ are you going to put forward?
Can I suggest that you start by looking at the issue through the eyes of the company? They know that if they give you a pay increase and if word gets out, others will be coming forward claiming the same treatment. So you need to be able to put together some sound reasons which justify you being treated differently. The other thing is that your immediate line manager may have to justify your proposed pay increase to their own line-manager.
One reason which might justify a pay increase is if you know that other staff doing the same job are already earning more than you, simply because they were better at negotiating their salary. The problem is that in all likelihood you won’t know what your colleagues are earning. And they certainly won’t tell you. It’s rude even to ask. So what to do?
It happened to me several years ago when a new member of staff was recruited at a premium rate substantially higher than that paid either to myself or other colleagues. What was it that made this prima donna so special? Colleagues were angry.
When the prima donna left after only a few months, it was left to myself and those other colleagues to clean up the mess. At my next one-to-one with my line manager I asked for a pay rise.
I asked to be paid the same as he had been paying the prima donna for work which was inferior to my own. The only problem was that I did not know exactly how much the prima donna had been paid. But I’d heard rumours. So I made an educated guess. The bluff worked and I got my pay increase. ‘How did you know how much I was paying her?’ He asked. “She told me”, I lied. Of course I’m not recommending that you behave in such an underhand way when you next ask for a pay rise. I was just making a point.
Does your work-performance justify a pay rise? If you are not reaching your current financial targets it may be dangerous even to ask for a rise. You will only be drawing attention to your own underperformance. So hit those targets. Exceed them if you can. Then that pay rise will be very difficult to refuse. Also look at the wider market for your skills. Are you being paid significantly below the average for someone of your qualifications, skills and experience?
There is one further tactic. Offer to link any pay rise to an increase in your productivity which will make it ‘self-financing’. So if you are working to a £10,000 monthly sales target, offer to increase it to £12,000. But make sure that you can hit the higher target, because all eyes will be watching you. With every negotiated pay increase, your employer‘s expectations of you will increase proportionately.
As a matter of courtesy you should always direct any request for a pay increase to your immediate line manager in the first instance, even if it is not within their power to grant your request. Don’t go above their head. If you can get your line-manager’s support, it will help you more than anything else in your pay negotiation.