Time to Ask for a Raise

Time to Ask for a Raise The Way Women WorkIs this a good time to ask for a pay raise?

I’ve received quite a few calls lately from women clients and mentees with this question. You may be thinking, “What? Now? Amidst all this uncertainty?”

Yes, in parts of the world economic conditions are in a tailspin, but other countries are thriving. Yes, some companies are experiencing financial difficulties, but others are sitting on  a lot of cash.

The simple answer to “When is the best time to ask for a salary increase?” is:

when you are performing at a level that warrants it.

I find that many women keep waiting for the “best time,” “a good moment,” or at their performance review or even worse, just hoping someone will notice and give them a salary increase.

If you have been with your current employer during these past few tough years, have taken on increased responsibilities without asking much in return, and/or are delivering greater results, this may be a good time to initiate a conversation about your compensation. (It is likely that your male counterparts have had more than one such conversation.) Take note of the words “initiate a conversation.” Discussing salary is often about planting a seed and should never be about an ultimatum or threat.

A quick recap about what we know about salary increases:

  1. ON ASKING: Women DON’T ask. There are so many research studies proving this. Most likely, if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
  2. ON NEGOTIATING:  Men are better negotiators than women.
  3. ON TIMING: You do not have to wait until your performance review or some particular event or moment in time. In fact, in many cases, waiting until then is too late — budgets are planned and increases are already allocated. Bringing up salary, at an appropriate time when warranted based on your job performance, may help influence decisions that will be made later.
  4. ON MESSAGING: Asking for a raise is not a personal discussion about your financial needs — it is about the value of the work you are doing and the contribution you are making to your workplace.
  5. ON PREPARING: Research pays — obtain salaries for comparable positions at your firm or similar companies. In addition to online resources, other potential sources could be peers who had similar roles but who have been promoted or have left the company. If at all possible, obtain information from male peers who based on research are likely making more money than women you know.
  6. ON CLOSING THE DEAL: Remember, asking for a raise is not a conversation about fairness nor about getting the same compensation as someone else; it is about appropriate pay for the contributions you are making.

How to frame up a request for a salary increase:

  • Schedule a meeting with your manager for a time and day that is the least hectic for both of you. Let her/him know that you’d like to discuss the work you’ve been doing.
  • At the meeting:
    • Express appreciation for the opportunity to work at your company.
    • Share aspects of your job that you enjoy, additional responsibilities you have taken on, and contributions you are making.
    • Ask your manager to give you some feedback about how she/he thinks you are doing in your role.
    • Let your manager know that based on the increased contribution you are making, you believe an increase in salary is warranted. Remember that compensation comes in many different forms: base pay and variable pay e.g. bonus, stock options, etc.). The more senior you are, the more variable pay becomes a factor.
    • Your request should be naturally and neutrally framed and not have any charged emotional undertones.
    • Ask your manager when he/she thinks an increase could occur and what you can do to help him/her get one approved for you.
    • Thank your manager for his/her time and consideration.

What’s worked most effectively for you? Please share your story with us!