For most of us, asking a boss for more money is an awkward, if not stressful, undertaking. You may feel deserving of a better salary, but you realise that your approach to your boss is all important. Particularly in a work context, the amount of money one earns is directly related to self-esteem, a sense of status and individual worth. When employees feel that they are not earning what they are worth, energy levels drop and productivity may wane. How do you therefore go about asking for an increase? Do you demand it? Do you look for other opportunities? Do you live with it and hope for an increase in the near future?

Both you and your boss need time to prepare for a conversation of this sort, so suggest that you would like to talk about the salary issue in the near future to allow time for this preparation. Remember that your boss will be asking some important questions related to your request. Emolument’s blog suggests the following questions that bosses ask:

  • How valuable is this employee?
  • Does he/she deserve a promotion or rise in salary?
  • Do I have the necessary funds within the budget to cater for an increase?
  • How will an increase in pay for the employee affect the department?
  • What will the employee do if I refuse?

A discussion regarding a salary increase requires professionalism and maturity. Emotions, ill feelings and frustration should be left out of the conversation. Approach the discussion armed with your best case for a salary increase, with accurate facts and figures. Maintain control, speak intelligently and demonstrate your value to your boss. The conversation should never be manipulative. Make an appointment with your boss for some time in the future – give each other at least two weeks to prepare for this conversation.

The following steps should be adhered to:

  1. Do an industry-related study on salaries offered for your role and level of work – you may need help from agencies and industry-related professional bodies to ascertain this information. Make sure the information is as accurate as possible (don’t cheat on quoted figures, as your boss will be doing this exercise too).
  2. Establish your best case for a salary increase – put this into a discussion document that the two of you can go through together. An objectively-written motivation document is easier to discuss than just voice communication, which could easily sound overly emotional.
  3. State how your salary rates in comparison to industry standard averages – ask for a salary that is slightly above-average only if your work results are excellent (above par).
  4. Thank the boss for considering your request.

Asking for a salary increase is a request for consideration – as such, it should be presented maturely and professionally. Never use manipulative language or emotional pressure to attempt to gain more pay.

For more information on how to address your boss in a variety of circumstances, my book “How do I address my boss when…?” gives help with approximately 20 different situations where you need to structure conversations deliberately – follow the book link embedded in the book picture on the right for more information

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