You want a raise. You feel you're worth more. Your responsibilities have increased. You are getting the work done--and done well. You feel like it's time to have "the talk."

How do you walk in, take a seat in front of your boss, and get a raise? 

Here's how:

1. Walk In Emotionally Prepared

Where most people go wrong is they walk into the conversation with a certain emotional feeling. Sometimes, they think they should get a raise because they are "being overworked"--and so they bring into the room an aura of negativity or resentment. Sometimes, they think they deserve a raise because "everyone else is getting one"--so they bring into the room an aura of agitation. 

This is Step 1. You need to realize that the conversation you are about to have is both financial and emotional. Nobody feels good giving someone a raise, even if they've "earned it on paper," if the person they are talking to is emitting negative energy. It just doesn't feel good.

Walk in emotionally prepared, and you'll set yourself up for so much more success in the conversation.

2. Bring Clear Examples

The biggest indicator of your value as an employee always comes down to performance. If you can bring to the table clear examples of situations where you exceeded expectations, then you will build a very strong case for yourself of what you can offer your company.

On the flip-side, if you walk in and say, "I think I've done a lot of great work, I deserve a raise," and your boss asks you for specific examples, well, suddenly you're stuck. You don't have any concrete proof of your value.

Make a little presentation sheet, if you feel so compelled. But regardless, prepare yourself for the conversation with detailed examples.

3. Prepare The Conversation With Positive Words From Coworkers

Office politics. They exist.

If you have a few trusted voices in your workplace that know of your value and would willingly speak on your behalf--and you have a positive, open relationship with them--it can be a good idea to share that you're going to ask for a promotion or an increase in salary, and ask if they'd be willing to speak on your behalf.

Something people often forget is that businesses and organizations are teams. Your value as an individual is important, but your value among the collective is equally as vital. If other people enjoy working with you, that's a big "win" for the company--and something every great boss will take note of.

4. Ask After A Successful Project, Not After A Failed One

Again, timing is everything. If you know you are going to be asking for a raise soon, be aware of when you choose to open your mouth. It would not be wise, say, to schedule some time to have that conversation right after you fumbled the ball on the 5 yard line. Instead, wait until you have a few weeks where you're on your game, and then have the conversation.

That said: If you have made a big error in the past 2-3 months, you might have some making up to do. But remember, bosses and organizations are not so much looking for you to "make it up," but rather see that you've learned and grown beyond the mistake. That's what really matters, is that you've fixed the habit and are better now for it.

5. Come With Suggestions Of Additional Responsibilities

Another mistake many make when asking for a raise is thinking that they deserve more without continuing to offer more--they expect their workload to stay the same.

Instead, realize that a raise for you means a higher cost for your business or company. Something has to warrant that increase in cost.

Come to the table with suggestions of how else you can deliver exceptional value to your company with a raise increase. Maybe you could lead an ancillary department. Maybe you could spend time training new members and increase their efficiencies. Offer some solutions for how you could be a more valuable resource, and if your suggestions are helpful enough, chances are your employer will be pleased to give you the opportunity.

6. Build Value Around Yourself

And finally, the most underrated and yet valuable thing an employee could possibly do for an organization is build value around themselves within the organization.

Regardless of whether or not you're an intern or a Creative Director, you can always continue building value around yourself--which is an endless stream of opportunities for you to continue moving up, and up, and up. 

What I mean by this is: Build something of your own within the organization. Maybe you have found another way for the company to make money--great, go build it. Maybe you know how to perform a service that doesn't exist yet--great, go built it. Turn it into a 1-man department while people still try to "wrap their heads around it." Then, once it's moving, ask for some help from a second employee. And a third. Until you've built out a whole new section to the company.

There is a very poor mentality around this idea of "asking for a raise," where people think that time spent at a company alone warrants an increase in wages. Sometimes it does, but often it does not. What warrants a raise is an increase in value. And the more value you can create, the more valuable you become, and the more your company will be willing to pay to keep you.

Build that value yourself, and you'll never have to ask for a raise.

Published on: Aug 19, 2016
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