Gina London: It pays to think ahead if you're about to ask for a salary rise
We're here in the middle of the fourth quarter when many of us begin taking stock of our professional progress over the past year.
Maybe some of you are even preparing to give or receive one of those dreaded annual performance reviews.
If you think they're a waste of time, you're not alone. Plenty of organisations have pushed them aside in favour of providing ongoing feedback.
In fact, the Harvard Business Review reports that over a third of all global companies have replaced yearly evaluations with frequent informal check-ins between employees and supervisors.
With that in mind, you no longer have to try and co-ordinate your decision to ask for a pay rise with some formal review meeting that your boss puts on your calendar.
When you're ready, why don't you go ahead and ask to set up a meeting yourself?
But how to get ready? That's the question, isn't it?
One of the most difficult communications challenges you may face - is how to ask and actually get - an increase in your salary.
I've conferred with HR directors from some of my top multinational clients to bring you my top five pay rise strategies.
These aren't theoretical strategies, but real ones that my experts say make the difference.
1 Start doing your homework now!
Crack open Excel or one of the many Excel alternatives and start putting quantitative things in it regularly.
Have you suggested or implemented anything that makes processes more efficient or productive? Are you taking on responsibilities outside of what you were initially hired for? Have you received praise from important clients that are valuable to the firm?
Since you're looking for more money, you must demonstrate that your accomplishments have increased your value to the company. Each of us must be able to detail why we're worth it.
2 Don't wait for your annual review.
I mentioned this earlier but, really, think about this strategically. Did you just land three new clients? Take the lead on a successful project? Volunteer to present at a prospect meeting that went swimmingly?
If so, then it's a great time to schedule a meeting to talk to your manager.
It's just like when I was a kid, I knew I better not ask my dad for anything until after he'd had his dinner. That's when he was most pliable.
And speaking of meals, that's a great idea too. If you can, try to meet your manager somewhere comfortable and neutral - like for a lunch or a coffee. As with my dad, ask your boss for a pay increase when they're relaxed and happy.
3 Don't get all emotional.
And speaking of emotions, keep yours in check. This is a tip I admit I hadn't really considered until one of my favourite HR director friends pointed it out to me.
She said that way too often an employee will say something like, "I've dedicated 15 years of my life to this company and missed countless football matches and dance recitals of my children."
Or, if there are no kids in the picture, another version goes like this: "I've given my complete heart and soul for this firm and sacrificed having a family..."
Neither of these approaches will cut it.
But being able to explain - in detail -your performance and value to the company will.
Be clear that you've earned this, not that you are owed this. There's a difference. And please, whatever you do, don't cry.
4 Create a "future plan."
This is a clincher. Show your boss how committed you are to continue to contribute to the company by writing a real plan with solid ideas that lays out how you'll add value in coming years.
Don't just say this either. Take time beforehand and find a way to make this plan an appealing document you can leave with your manager. Imagine handing them a full-colour pamphlet. Rock Star!
This week's final tip might seem obvious, but too many of you don't do this. You might present all your information and then state you believe you are worth more than you're currently being paid.
But then, for some reason, you stop short of actually stating the percentage of increase or the precise number that you want.
I believe it's because you haven't practiced saying it aloud. Many of us don't feel comfortable talking about money. There's a whole psychology behind it.
I can relate. I remember the first time I told a prospect the price for a consulting project. I knew I was worth it, but I still felt awkward inside. I didn't show it outside, however, and they easily agreed. Don't psyche yourself out.
If you've done market research and have evidence that your job pays more than other places - or you can prove your performance - don't be afraid to ask for a new number.
Then stop talking. Give them time to react.
No matter what they say. Keep calm. Take notes and follow up with an email of understanding to your manager. Then keep these tips in gear for next time.
In short, take charge of your career. If you don't help you, who will?
Well, me. That's why I'm here.
Now go for it.
What's going on in your career? What do you need more confidence with? Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie
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