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Should I Ask for a Raise?

Q. I know my boss thinks just like Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, that it is bad karma to ask for a raise. So what should I do? Work hard and keep my head down waiting for rewards and recognition time, or risk being looked at as difficult, greedy or worse? I don’t want to lose my job.

A. Nadella regrets his comment, for many reasons I’m sure. Having employees ask for a raise is a challenge to managers, human resources and leadership.

When employees alter that arrangement by asking for raises, the balance is upset and subjective evaluations need to be made. More men ask for raises than women and women make 82 percent of what men make. Wanting to ensure you are paid fairly is not a sign of being difficult or greedy; however, how you handle the conversation will have a direct impact on your success.

Employees need to recognize how, why and when to ask for a raise if they expect to be successful. Human resources people who specialize in compensation and benefits are highly sought after for the objectivity and research based analytics they bring to the often subjective world of pay. Most organizations have set a pay scale, an annual review time, with a limit on the increases they will pay, and to which level employee. They look at the entire organization to ensure they can generate profits, and invest in the right parts of the business.


If you believe your compensation should be higher, you need to be able to articulate why you should be paid more. Most people would like to make more money; many people have bills, and many people have expenses that have gone up. None of these are reasons for a company to pay you more. Companies increase peoples pay based on the contribution employees make to the organization, the cost or risk to replace them and based on competitive market rate.
Before you ask for a raise, do your research. Learn what the range is for your position at your company and outside your firm. Talk to human resources and use national and regional survey data that is available. Use sites such as Glassdoor to gain inside information about companies and benchmark what people in your role with your level of experience are making at different companies. Find out if you are currently underpaid for your role based on the market data you gathered. If you are not underpaid, what arguments do you have for an increase? There may still be every reason to ask.
Be brutally honest with yourself, and use feedback you may have been given. Are you a great employee? A good employee? Or, are you an OK contributor? If you have great feedback from reviews, other managers and colleagues and customers who can discuss your impact, pull that material together for your presentation. Evaluate the impact you have had and quantify and document everything. Have you saved the company money? Brought in new business? Created new methods to increase productivity? Executed your job better than anyone else has ever done in the same role?
Time the ask right. Make sure your company is in good financial shape, and tie the request to the successful assignment or completion of a project. Couple it with a letter sent to the CEO, or a manager complementing you on some aspect of your work.
Remember, you may not succeed in getting an increase, and your manager may not be happy. However, no having issues such as the unspoken belief about compensation come to the forefront of the employer employee contract can be helpful.
Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners

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