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10 dos and don'ts while asking for a raise

Last updated on: October 11, 2011 07:08 IST

10 dos and don'ts while asking for a raise

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Everyone could do with that little extra cash but how do you sell the idea to your boss that you deserve it. Vikas Shirodkar, Vice-president, Human Resource Development, General Motors, India lists out these dos and don'ts to follow.

Asking for a raise is a tough job. You think you deserve it; your boss probably thinks you don't. And yet each morning when you report to work you wonder whether today would be a good time to ask for that pay raise you really want.

Vikas Shirodkar is the vice president, Human Resource Development at General Motors who over the years has been on both sides of the table -- being the one asking for a raise to the one authorising to give one to deserving candidates.

He tells us about the things you should and absolutely should not do while making that all-important presentation



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Do: Talk about your contribution and achievements

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Talking about your contribution to the company and your achievements is crucial not just at the time of your appraisals but throughout the year.

Appraisals are just a culmination of a decision. So make sure that whenever you've completed a particular project successfully, brought a project under budget or have done something exceptional, make sure you make the right noises about it as soon as you've achieved it.

If you keep your bosses posted about you achievements through the year, all you have to do is go up to them and remind them of it rather than brining it up, seemingly out of the blue, at the time of the appraisals

That way your managers will find it more difficult to refuse you the raise you deserve.



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Don't: Compare your pay hike with that of your colleagues

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Compensation in most companies is confidential and yet every HR person knows that the moment the letters are given out, employees share the figures with each other.

Never ever ask a raise on the basis of what your colleague has received.

You may never be able to understand the logic or assess the basis on which your colleague got that hike. Also, it doesn't put you in a good spot when you're negotiating with your boss because you are giving her/him the easy way out and the gate comes down very quickly.

The first answer you'll get in this circumstance is: 'You cannot talk to me about anyone else's salary'. And all doors for further negotiations will close.


Image: So your colleague got a better pay raise. Let that not be the excuse for you to ask for one too

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Do: Be factual and data based

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Nothing works better than specific data and information. It always helps you build a watertight case.

If for instance you have been getting an above average rating in your appraisal but haven't been getting any exceptional raise, bring it up in the meeting with your supervisor.

Companies usually reward about 10 to 15 per cent of their employees each year exceptionally, which means these employees receive a better raise than the others.

It is your job to convince your boss that you are in that elite minority.

Build your case but not by opinion and theory or impressions and feelings but rather by facts. If a junior has superseded you, state it as a fact without getting emotional and highlight your achievements.


Image: Back your demand with data and facts

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Don't: Threaten to leave

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Unless you've made up your mind about leaving the company, don't go about threatening to leave if you're unhappy with your salary package.

Every boss is aware that those who make such threats don't ever follow it up and aren't the ones to be taken seriously. The ones who have, are ones who have already done their homework and have probably made up their mind.


Image: Do not threaten to leave. Because those who threaten rarely ever see their threat through

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Do: Volunteer for more assignments

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There's is something I always tell people and myself: If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.

But all of us want more! So we must be able to justify why we deserve that more.

Whenever someone asks me for a raise, my first question to her/him is always: 'What are you doing more than what you were always doing?'

If you haven't done anything different or above and over your role, I feel it is unfair to expect anything more from your employer.

Expand your role and contribute to the company back. This will help your case when time comes.


Image: Volunteer for more assignments and work towards expanding your role in the organisation

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Don't: Compare companies

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Very often you have employees who list out all the things rival companies offer -- be it transport, subsidised lunch, on-field training etc.

There really isn't any need to discuss these things in a meeting where you're supposed to talk about your salary hike. Understand that you have joined a particular company being fully aware of its culture and what it was offering.

Worse, should you bring this up, chances are your boss will ask you why you aren't joining that company instead.

Remember, the grass is always greener on the other side so don't compare companies before your boss!


Image: Every company has its positive and negative points. Learn to appreciate the best in your company

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Do: Share your apprehensions and concerns

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It is fair to share your apprehensions and concerns but the key here is not to get emotional about it.

Explain to your boss why you should get that raise; talk about how it will help the company and present it as part of a larger game plan. If you are asking for something extra, be ready to do something extra in return.

Tell your boss you see yourself making a career in this company and that you would like to be rewarded and recognised. Convince her/him that it isn't just more money down the drain but rather a win-win situation for both your employer and you.


Image: Share your apprehensions and concerns

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Don't: Get emotional or cry

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In the last 30 years I have seen this happen very, very often. And it has happened not just with juniors but also with senior employees who could be called one's peers and colleagues.

Things usually begins on a rational note but very soon they drop from being rational to being emotional.

Trust me this doesn't help your story. If at all, this is going one step beyond the complaining mode I spoke about earlier.

This happens because for the employee, trying to make up his mind to ask for a raise is itself a big step. He agonising while preparing for it. And when time comes, s/he loses all control.

When this happens, discussions go on a completely different tangent -- the bosses usually try to tell you that you shouldn't take it personally and at best you are made future promises.


Image: Don't ever get emotional at a meeting where you want to discuss a pay raise

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Do: Motivate yourself

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Remember, when you ask for a raise there is a 50 per cent chance you won't get it.

Should that happen, don't ever let it pin you down. Retain your objectivity and continue doing a good job.

Whether we like it or not, our boss will be the one considering our case the next time around. Doing anything that will jeopardise your case with her/him won't be fruitful to your career.


Image: If your boss says no, don't go around with a long face

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Don't: Complain or crib

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Very often employees start off the meeting by talking about how unfairly they are paid. What they fail to understand is that the complaining tone doesn't ever help.

By beginning with negativity you are making your boss build a wall of arguments against you where s/he will tell you how what you're saying is not right.

Don't ever start with a complaint or worse still a sob story about how many family members are dependant on you or how you have EMIs to pay. Personal reasons can never be justifications for your appraisal. Keep it professional.

I once came across the story of an orchestra conductor who, before he started every concert, gave a plain paper to each musician, asking them to tell him the one thing he could do better the next time so they could play better.

Guide your boss, suggest on how he can improve your performance. Share your apprehensions and concerns. Continue to do well and show that you are a positive employee and not someone who cannot take no for an answer.


Image: Complaining and cribbing won't get you anywhere

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