Now may be a good time to ask for a pay raise

Are you convinced that you're worth more than you're getting paid? Have you been achieving excellent results and doing a lot more than what's expected? Well it may be time to ask your manger for a raise. If you're feeling a little reluctant about approaching your boss, consider this...a new survey reports that over 90% of those who ask for a raise get it.

You might argue that your company has recently downsized, so you couldn't possibly ask for more money. Maybe so. But if you look beyond the downsizing activities, you will probably discover that the company is trying to "rightsize." In other words, people with specific talents are being hired, new kinds of leaders are being promoted, and the company is intent on keeping their best talent.

Even though companies are watching costs, they know they can't afford to lose good employees. In fact, when I'm speaking to executives and managers around the country, their top issue of concern is finding good, qualified people to fill jobs. If you're one of those people, the time may be perfect to find out what you're worth.

Raises are usually granted to people for three main reasons:

1.      The employee is earning less than they're worth on the open market;

2.      The employee's responsibilities have increased; and / or

3.      Because the person's results have far exceeded the expectations of their job.

If you can make a good case for one of these three factors, there is a good chance you'll present a winning case for more money. For instance, to find out what your job's market value is, contact your professional organization, trade association or placement agencies. Often, they will have salary surveys that will show you averages. (Of course, another way is to go on a few interviews for similar jobs!)

Another way is to do an informal survey. Contact colleagues who do similar work in other companies. Ask them what their company pays for someone with your level of experience and your record of results (Don't ask what they make. Not only is it bad form, but if they tell you, they're likely to inflate the facts.) If you discover that you are under- paid, compared with others in the same market, your boss will be compelled to consider an increase. However, be prepared to show job comparisons in similar- sized organizations.

To determine if your responsibilities have gone up enough to warrant a pay boost, consider whether your responsibilities have gone up roughly 20 percent. You may not be able to assess this objectively. For instance, many people confuse volume of work with level of responsibilities. In other words they say, "I've never worked so hard. I'm putting in longer hours, and I'm doing more work than I ever have since some of my peers were laid off." The problem is that the level of the work they are doing is still roughly the same as before, there is just more of it. Unfortunately, that doesn't make a strong case for an increase, since everyone is usually in the same boat.

But if you can point to higher level work, such as leading a significant project; developing a major, new system; or leading a new group of people, you'll have a stronger case.

Here's another tip: don't expect to get a raise when the new responsibilities start. Your request may seem premature. Wait until you have proven yourself in the new area of responsibility, say, in six months to a year. In today's climate, raises usually don't come automatically with new duties.

If you feel that your merit increase didn't compensate you adequately for exceeding the expectations of your job, you will need to be ready to prove your case. Remind your manager of specific results and accomplishments during the year, and be prepared to talk about how they helped the bottom line.

And, for best results, put your request in writing. Use a non-demanding tone in your memo. Simply state the facts professionally. Give your boss a document that has a clearly defensible case he or she is willing to take to upper management.

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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