Making the case for new responsibilities warranting a salary increase

Dear Joan:
For the past year, I have been employed with a company in a management position. While I have experienced growing pains, I’m basically happy with my job and responsibilities. This particular opportunity was substantial career advancement for me. I was hired over others with much more experience. Therefore, I am grateful to my boss for his willingness to allow me this opportunity.

Last week, an employee with a higher position decided to leave the company for another opportunity. It appears, due to a company restructuring and a recent company merger, that his position will be eliminated rather than filled. Therefore, myself and others in the department will be taking on added responsibilities to cover the responsibilities associated with the eliminated position.

Next week, I will be sitting down with my boss to discuss goals for 2002 and I will also receive a performance review. I would like to negotiate an increase in salary at that time due to the increased responsibilities. I’m not very adept at salary negotiations and would like some advice on how to discuss the issue in my performance review.

In negotiations, timing is everything.

In this situation, you may be asking for too much too soon. Although it may seem logical to ask for more money because you will be assuming more responsibilities, it may not look like that from your manager’s perspective. Let’s examine the situation from all sides so you can decide on a plan.

From your letter, it’s not clear if you were promoted from within or were hired from the outside. In either case, your manager knows that this job was a big leap for you, both in responsibilities and in compensation. Your manager may feel that you need to perform at that level for awhile before he gives you another big increase.

You mentioned that you had some growing pains this year. I suspect your boss observed your learning curve and will report next week on how he saw your performance during your first year in this job. If he rates you "meets expectations," which would be a reasonable rating in a new job, he will be unwilling to give you more than a modest increase. If you rated lower than that, you may get no raise at all. The timing won’t be good for asking for more money for duties you haven’t even performed yet.

"But I will be doing more work and have more responsibility," you might argue. You might have a case when it comes to more responsibility but you won’t get a sympathetic ear when it comes to more volume. With the merger and removing a position, everyone will have to pitch in and do more. Any increase that is given to you will have to be justifiable in light of everyone else’s contribution. Perhaps an across the board increase will be warranted but it will not be issued until the manager sees exactly what impact the increased workload will have on everyone.

Finally, and most important, your timing is six months off. Most managers will not grant an increase until after about six months or so of performance at the new level. He will want to see how things shake out. For example, in most organizations, the Human Resources department will look for at least a 20 percent increase in responsibilities before they will approve a significant jump in job grade and a corresponding raise. Until you actually do the job, no one really knows how much extra responsibility you will have.

But here’s the good news on your timing. Next week during your performance review is the perfect time to discuss the scope of the new responsibilities and how you think it will impact your job. During that discussion ask, "At what point do you think we will be able to determine whether the new responsibilities warrant a salary increase?" If he doesn’t commit, say, "I think I should be able to provide you with an assessment after about six months. I will take the responsibility to document the impact of these new responsibilities and I’ll set up a meeting with you in August to discuss it."

You will have tactfully informed him that you expect to be compensated for the new responsibilities but that you are willing to justify to him that you deserve it.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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