We recently carried out research that revealed that most people are wary about asking for a pay rise, with an overwhelming 61% saying that they have never broached the subject. The statistics showed that men were more likely to ask for a pay rise, with 46% saying that they had done so, compared with just 30% of women.
If you feel like it’s time to move up a rung of the career ladder, but don’t know how to start the conversation, we spoke to industry experts who have real-life experience of asking for, accepting and rejecting pay rise requests.
Timing is everything
Asking for a pay rise is a big deal, and it is certainly not something that should be done on a whim. Don’t just stroll into the office one morning and book a meeting with your manager – there is a time and a place for everything. Consider the circumstances around the meeting, because the surrounding situation can have a big impact on the result of your request.
Know how much you are worth
Part of having a well-thought-out plan for asking for a pay rise involves knowing how much you are going to ask for. This part can be tricky; it’s all about balancing your desire to receive a six-figure pay cheque, and asking for a salary that you deserve. Many people are often under the impression that, if their manager grants them a pay rise, they will simply pluck a higher figure out of thin air.
But part of the nature of asking for a pay rise is having confidence in your abilities and being able to put a price on yourself. Although it may make you feel awkward, it is more likely that your manager will respect you for knowing your worth.
It’s all well and good being able to walk into a pay review meeting and talk about the things you have done (more on this later), but what those in charge will want to see is how your excellent work has benefited the business overall.
David Ingram, managing director at agency Bring Digital, says he wants to see people come to him with real and tangible proof of their efforts:
“It’s easier to give a pay rise when an employee can tie their achievements back to real commercial value for the company. For example ‘I created a social media strategy that has driven £125,000 of new sales’ or ‘I reduced the need to outsource our human resources services, which has saved us £36,000 a year.’
“If an employee can come to a pay review with a list of their achievements against expectations you set at a previous review, then it makes it much easier to sign off. For example, ‘you wanted me to improve my leadership skills, and I’ve taken a course, read the three suggested books and taken responsibility for the development of a junior staff member’.
“Both of these points come down to preparation; really taking the time to think about how your value to the company has increased since your last review, and bringing along the information that can evidence this.”
It’s not all about what you say
Now comes the meeting itself, where all of your hard work and preparation is put to the test in what will seem like the most challenging part of the entire process. You will likely be feeling nervous and anxious and naturally may find yourself going from cool and confident to shy and modest in a flash. But there’s a delicate balance to strike with the way you present yourself; you want to be calm and relaxed, but not closed in, whilst also showing you are sure of your achievements but not cocky. It can be tricky to get right!
When we are in any situation, other people won’t just be picking up on what we say. We actually given out dozens of other different signals through our body language, the tone and pitch of our voice and our facial expressions. Even our emotions can be easily picked up on, and your boss doesn’t need to be an expert to recognise these subconscious signals.
What you want to avoid most is appearing too nervous or tentative, defensive or angry. Speak slowly and steadily, and maintain relaxed eye contact with the other person, without staring them down. Keep your voice strong yet reasonable and you will come across both confident and convincing.
How to deal with rejection
Once you’ve finally worked up the confidence to speak to your boss and established exactly what you were going to say, it can feel a little embarrassing and frustrating if you receive a rejection. But the way you handle it will say a lot about your character, and your manager will be looking out for your reaction.
The first step is to accept their decision straight away; arguing back isn’t going to change anything. However difficult it may be, keep your emotions in check and try not to let your facial expressions or body language portray any feelings of anger, disappointment or upset.
Second, tell them you understand and then proceed to ask for the reasons behind their decision. This could range from issues with your performance to financial problems within the company itself. If it is the former, show your commitment and enthusiasm to improving by asking for an opportunity to make a plan – with input from your seniors – on what you need to achieve in order to get that all important “yes” next time.
Article wrtitten by Steve Thompson, managing director of Forward Role Recruitment
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