Negotiating a pay raise is never easy…..

It is that time of the year again when performance and salary negotiation discussions occur in many organisations.  However, negotiating a higher starting salary or a pay raise is never easy. We may want or even need more money, and nobody gets excited about having to ask for it.  Not only have many of us grown up hearing that talking about money is inappropriate, but when seeking advice we can receive contradictory opinions.

Asking, and getting, what you deserve should be a straightforward process.
Asking, and getting, what you deserve should be a straightforward process.

On one side, we’ve been taught not to be money grabbers, or to come across as ‘egotistic’. And common sense tells you if your employer is struggling, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a pay raise.

But not asking could have some serious consequences in how we are perceived. Not speaking up for yourself may make you seem dispensable.  No one wants to look like a pushover, or feel taken for granted!

It can be a stressful and nerve-wracking issue, and each case is different. Asking, and getting what you deserve should be a straightforward process. Right?

Try these tips to make the experience a bit easier:

1.  Ask for it! But prepare…… If you’re interviewing for a position, it is absolutely fine and expected to negotiate from the first offer. The hiring manager is prepared to negotiate from the starting figure, and will typically leave themselves some negotiating room. So if you don’t ask, you will likely leave money on the table. If you don’t usually do this, you’re not alone! Even Sheryl Sandberg admits to almost jumping at Facebook’s first offer, until her husband encouraged her to counter. The same is true for getting a pay raise within your current position. See below.

2. Frame your request in in terms of potential, not your past effort.  From your organisation’s perspective, the only reason to pay you more is because you will deliver more in the future. In all honesty your manager has two basic needs: growing the business and increasing profitability. If you report into a ‘middle manager’ it is similar but they also have the added responsibility of boosting their managers image within the business. So if you’re asking for a pay raise, don’t make it about how hard you’ve worked in the past, your personal situation (mortgage payments, a recent renovation, or the kids in university, etc.) or what others are getting paid in your position. Talk instead about what you can do, and what your future plans are for your position and how you can assist  your manager in achieving their goals.

3. Consider non-salary options. If your company can’t elevate your salary, think of your compensation as a whole. Depending on your company and line of work, you might also try to see if you could increase your benefits package, education, expanding your annual leave, or gaining flexibility in your hours or working conditions.  Perhaps a title increase may also be an option, and to the company, it’s free.

4.  No Surprises! Schedule a time to talk it through. If you’re asking for a pay raise, don’t surprise your boss. Instead, set up a meeting with him or her to talk about your expectations – give them a sense of what’s coming. Scheduling a meeting gives you and your boss time to prepare, which may ultimately make the experience less stressful for both of you.

5. Don’t threaten. It’s fine to ask for money, but if you threaten to leave over it, even if you get what you want the process will leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. Ask for the money based on what you can do for the organisation, and don’t make it a requirement of your employment. (This goes for new hires or current employees.) Show your employer that you’re reasonable and understand what the company offers you as a whole, and that salary is one consideration.

6. Be prepared for No.  As long as you ask in a non-confrontational manner, and at a good time, the worst you can hear is “no.” Be prepared for it, and keep your emotions in check about it. Remember that a “no” isn’t forever. Ask when would be a good time to revisit the issue, and follow up. A “no” now can be a solid “yes” later. And you’ll have laid important groundwork.

7. Be prepared for Yes.  Have a positive attitude, demeanour and forward looking outlook to the salary discussion. Be prepared for either response; you might just hear “Yes, We can do that!”


About the Author

Kylie Head is a mediation services specialist with twenty years of experience in senior management roles.

In addition to mediating disputes, Kylie acts as a facilitator resolving in-house conflict within business, along with working one-on-one to coach individuals through conflict, life transitions and problem solving. Kylie is experienced in providing mediation services with On the Table to parties where the issues are complex and intractable.

On the Table helps people & teams have conversations.

On the Table encourages people and organisations’ to connect and to have dialogue in a way that is meaningful and constructive.

At On the Table we believe in:

  • peaceful conflict resolution and mediation
  • resolving conflict through conversations
  • conflict management coaching
  • you could benefit by using a mediation specialist

Contact On the Table



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