Asking for a raise is about as comfortable as giving the boss feedback. Both can be awkward, tension laden, and require you to put your neck out there. But at least giving a boss feedback doesn't involve the pain of potentially hearing a resounding "no" (unless he/she is in total denial about their shortcomings).
It doesn't have to be this way though. Brand new research completed this month from Zoro (a B2B supply company that studies optimal work environments for clients) can help. The studied polled 1,000 employees to discern what strategies worked for them in asking for a raise. Here are the seven best strategies to get the "yes" that leads to more money.
1. Have an in-person meeting.
If you're wondering "What's the alternative?", the study showed about 10 percent of people ask for a raise by email. I also know of people unsuccessfully asking for a raise by phone. Neither are a good idea.
Asking another person to pay you more money is a personal thing, the answer to which should be based on your personal qualities/accomplishments that can be best highlighted by sitting directly across from the person who can make your raise happen.
2. Research the salary range of similar positions.
Context is everything in negotiating a raise. In a vacuum, more is just more. How much more is warranted, if any? Without a point of reference it's hard to tell.
You want the potential raise-giver to feel compelled to give you a raise, not sold into giving you a raise. Data and context make it easier to say yes to a request for a raise because it takes subjectivity out of it. And the raise becomes a means to make things fair to you while lessening the risk the raise-giver might feel that giving you a raise is unfair to other people.
3. Wait until your performance review.
This of course, presumes you anticipate a good one. The recency effect plays a huge role in justifying raises. The raise-giver feels more compelled to grant the raise request because it gives them a tangible way to back up the verbal accolades they will just have piled upon you.
Your boss may still have to say no, but he/she will need good reasons to deny the raise for fear of looking like a hypocrite.
4. Rehearse the conversation.
Same thing goes for preparing for an interview--why wouldn't you? What's the downside? More money requires reasoning; you have to make it easy for your boss because you're asking your boss to allocate more resources to you. He/she needs a story that can be supported and that supports their decision. The more you practice, the better your story.
And the very fact that you're showing up prepared to ask for a raise can serve as a subtle reinforcement for why you deserve one in the first place.
5. Plan a discussion when the boss will be most receptive.
No, this isn't devious, just common sense. Did you ask your Dad to borrow the car right after he came home from a crappy day at work? Of course not.
People generally want to give people the positive things they deserve in life, but sometimes the bad things or noise going on in their own life can tarnish that perspective. Don't poke the bear.
6. Have the discussion right after a major accomplishment or milestone.
Again, the recency effect is your friend. Your boss has a lot going on. You've got to strike while the iron is hot and while how awesome you are is top of mind for them. You don't want "What have you done for me lately?" to be the underlying unspoken vibe as you approach your boss.
7. Build your case by presenting your results.
This is just a reminder to lay out the case for why you deserve a raise. I used to keep an accomplishments file (what some call a "smile file"); not for the feel good effect but to build my case come raise time. Knowing what you've done, why it deserves more compensation, and laying it out as clearly and objectively as possible is key for getting that "yes."
By the way, the study also pointed out unscrupulous strategies that some try, like comparing to co-workers to justify why you deserve a raise or leveraging another job offer to force the issue. Maybe those approaches work for some people. But don't put them to work for you. They lack integrity and may net you the opposite of what you're hoping to accomplish.
So raise your chances of getting that raise by following this advice.