Do's and Don'ts: How to ask for a promotion or pay raise

Do's and Don'ts: How to ask for a promotion or pay raise
PHOTO: BankBazaar.sg

If you think that all that is required to get that promotion is a few lines that you practised in front of the mirror, you've got it all wrong! Asking for a raise or a promotion in today's market scenario should be a deeply researched and well-timed pitch. Here are the top do's and don'ts to keep in mind before you enter the lair.

TIPS ON ASKING FOR A PROMOTION OR RAISE AT WORK THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO:

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH, CONVINCE YOURSELF

Check yourself out. Seriously. Introspect - you should be aware of your work, your performance, the targets you have achieved, and the value created by you so that you know whether you deserve the raise or not. Once you are convinced, it should be much easier to present your case to your boss.

Tip: Value-creation goes far beyond just what you do at work. It could and should include time spent inducting new members and managing to deliver great performance despite strict deadlines/unwell colleagues.

2. DOCUMENT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS, PUT IT DOWN ON PAPER

When push comes to shove, the most well-rehearsed speech has chances of falling flat. Remember, your boss may be very practised at not entertaining requests for a promotion. So instead of fumbling around and getting nervous, a good idea is to document your achievements into a portfolio of tangible facts

Tip: Keep copies of emails that you receive from your manager, applauding a job well done, in a separate folder. This way they are easy to showcase during this conversation.

3. SHOW THAT YOU DESERVE IT

You need to blow your own trumpet, albeit politely. Point out positives like your leadership skills, any mentorships that you may have undertaken, and successful projects that you have been a part of. Highlight all the achievements that you have had and detail the value that your participation has created for the organisation. Once your contribution is spelt out, it will become more difficult to turn down a request for a promotion or a raise.

Tip: It will be great to get feedback from juniors or peers on your performance and team management skills. In case it has been sent to you in writing, remember to show that to strengthen your case.

4. MAKE YOURSELF, AND THE BOSS, AWARE OF THE PAY SCALE

This is a point that must be handled with extreme care. If your pitch is being ignored, you should delicately indicate that there are options 'out there'; with a reference to the prevailing pay scale in the industry. This will achieve two things - one, your expectations will be put in numbers, and two, you will have made your intentions very clear. Always good for a healthy discussion.

Tip: Look around, top recruitment firms release data about average pay scales in the country, based on experience. The numbers are fair benchmarks to know where you stand. Check out one such survey here.

5. KNOW YOUR REGION, HIGHLIGHT 'NEED VS WANT'

In some markets, a higher designation means that you will be taken more seriously. So a promotion is not just something that you 'want', it becomes something that you 'need' to perform better! With different work cultures in different regions, it is very important to know the area and how it works.

Tip: This especially comes into play for regional roles. With Singapore as the preferred HQ for most companies, regional roles mean dealing with different cultures. And some Asian cultures respect hierarchy. So if your designation is coming in the way of you getting your work done, explain this to the manager and request for a 'designation' change. This may bring with it a promotion or raise, but be honest about your challenges.

DON'T DO THESE THINGS WHEN ASKING FOR A RAISE OR PROMOTION:

1. DON'T BE AGGRESSIVE

For most people, talking about money is something that is out of their comfort zone. This can make you awkward, resulting in an uncomfortable level of aggression. Be very careful with your tone; keep it measured and polite. Even unintentional aggression may be interpreted as rudeness and will not take you very far. Remember, you are there to have a conversation, not make a threat.

Tip: Getting emotional during negotiations is a wrong way to start. Keep the discussion objective and facts based. And yes, avoid tears as well.

2. DON'T BE A PUSHOVER

Being polite does not translate into behaving like a doormat. You must put your point across clearly, in no uncertain terms, but keep a check on your attitude at all times. Very often, if the response to a 'money' talk is negative, and you may be discouraged to continue the conversation. Don't leave at the first hint; persist with your point at least till the conversation reaches its logical end. Leaving a conversation of this nature hanging is likely to cause a lot of embarrassment.

Tip: Do not make salary hike a conversation starter. It is best kept to the end of the discussion.

3. DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES

While having the talk, speak about yourself, not about others. Comparing your performance to others or the amount of work you do in comparison to another colleague will be detrimental to you. It is always better to make your case on a solid foundation of facts that highlight your achievements.

4. DON'T ASK WHEN THE COMPANY ISN'T DOING WELL

Be reasonable. Don't ask for a raise when the performance of the company is shaky. You are bound to be refused, and it is just plain silly. If the company is doing well, by all means, march right in and ask for your due!

Tip: Keep your eyes and ears open to what's happening around you and in the sector. Pick up on details like new business announcements and sector news.

5. DON'T BE UNPREPARED WHEN YOU'RE ASKED, "HOW MUCH"?

You've done the research, made your speech in the correct tone of voice and presented your case backed by facts and figures. Just one last thing - you need to know what to say when you are asked 'how much'?

Very often, the shock of the question results in quoting a ridiculous amount. So be prepared to answer - know the amount you are going to quote, and what you are willing to settle for, in case it is open to negotiation.

Tip: Do not act coy when the conversation has reached this point. Being unsure or saying that you will come back with a number shows a lack of preparation and will result in tragic loss of momentum (built till then).

So, now that you know what to do, make sure you don't let fear hold you back.

This article was first published in BankBazaar.sg.

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