Due Diligence for approaching Boss for Raise

Step 1: Consider your case.

What have you really done this past year? Did you drive more profit to the bottom line in a meaningful way? Did you suss-out a production inefficiency that has saved your company thousands/millions of dollars? Did you introduce your Boss or Boss’s boss to a premier customer with whom your company now does business? These are the kinds of things to consider. What have you REALLY done that goes beyond showing up for work sober. You DID show up for work sober, right?

Step 2: Begin to Prepare your case.

This is a finer comb activity. This is where years of experience playing chess may net you a nice bag-o-coin, but fret not, you navigate situations like this all the time. To wit, you navigate a freeway all the time (probably). This is just like that. On the freeway you have to avoid the crazy, angry drivers (my father) who cut you off/curse/slow/speed-up at whim, the half blind drivers (my grandfather, who is now no longer driving thankfully) who don’t mean to cause trouble, but can’t really comprehend (due to physical and visual limitations, not competence issues) moving at the speed of the rest of the traffic and aren’t really willing to try, and last but not least, the incompetent drivers – I don’t know what their motivations are, but avoid them. All this, plus you must move your body as quickly as possible to your destination safely. In some cases you dodge, others you may have to weave, but in all cases, you must keep going forward. Right?

Okay, so the destination is your raise/bonus. It is your responsibility to get everyone (all the drivers) to your destination. Which driver is your boss like? Who is in front of him? If your boss is an angry driver and his boss is a grandpa driver then you have a hot head stuck behind a slow poke. Yes? If you give the hot head room to maneuver around the slow poke, that will dissipate some of the angry driver’s energy and he’ll be kinder to you, the helpful driver.

This would be akin to you introducing your boss to a key customer that will give your boss a chance at a big promotion himself. Make sense? Since you’ve played the helpful driver, you can show your boss how you helped him meet “key customer” and that has opened up “door x” to “promotion y” for him. Do this subtly to avoid being tacky.

What if your boss is grandpa? Show him how you helped him stay safe by shielding him from the angry drivers. This would be along the lines of you taking on an extra assignment that his boss was throwing down the line of command; you working on and completing that job quickly, without need for supervision or direction from your boss so your boss’s boss is happy and your boss isn’t burdened with extra duties.

In essence, how have you worked WITH your boss (even if you think he’s a stinking rat fink) to make his/her life easier? Demonstrate that in your request for the raise. Do not expect your boss to remember every detail – to him, to her it was probably of very little consequence. Be succinct. Be clear. Tell the relevant details, get the memories going, make him feel good about how useful, helpful, productive you are and THEN ask for the raise.

Position yourself.

Step 3: Have a non-company mentor review your request.

Always put your request in writing so you can fully frame what you want to say and how you will say it, answer questions, respond to push-back. You may deliver orally, but be prepared in writing. Your boss may actually ask you to submit a paper request – sometimes as a stalling technique, sometimes for official documentation, sometimes just so she doesn’t forget you’ve made the request (me!). This request can be reviewed by your mentor for tactical opportunities, logic and relevance. If you have chosen a mentor in the same industry retired or with another company, she may know things about your company that can help you with your raise request (your Co. is about to win a big contract, your Co. President just lost 1/2 of this year’s earnings on a trip to Vegas, etc.). Do ask her to review your request.

Step 4: Practice, practice, practice.

Business is about presentation. We are constantly marketing ourselves, our product, our service, etc. just to keep the doors open. Embrace it. The better you do with fundamental activities, the higher you will rise. Practice how you will talk to your boss, your responses to questions, your tone of voice. Do it. Seriously. Make it natural. Confidence is earned through mastery of fundamentals – you cannot fake confidence.

If your boss sees you making a very natural request for a raise, he’s more inclined to give it to you.

Step 5: Go for it!

Ask your boss for a meeting time and then make your pitch. Be prepared. Good luck!

3 thoughts on “Due Diligence for approaching Boss for Raise”

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  2. As an HR professional that deals with this kind of thing regularly, I really appreciate when people are prepared to tell you why they have EARNED a raise instead of why they DESERVE one. Projecting a sense of entitlement, regardless of its validity, instantly puts your boss on the defensive. And lines like “So and so who just started makes more money than me” or “I could leave here today and find a job making twice as much” fall on deaf ears. It may very well be true, but it makes you sound like a whiny eight year old. And if you really can find a job making twice as much… do it, because there is no way in &%$$ you’re getting a 100% pay increase, if you get one at all.

    If asking for a raise, leave your emotions out of the equation. Never make threats or demands (unless you really do have another job lined up or are prepared to be jobless). Do it an appropriate time and place when your boss is not preoccupied or stressed. Thank your boss for her/his time, consideration, and support. And always be prepared with the following:

    How have you added value to the organization?
    How have your responsibilities grown and expanded?
    What do you believe is a fair salary?
    Can you provide any supporting evidence to demonstrate that this is a reasonable expectation for your industry, profession, company size, geographic area, experience and education?

    And finally, remember that most bosses don’t even have the authority to make the decision. 9 times out of 10 your boss would happily give you a raise, but the decision is usually handed down by executive/senior management, HR, or one of those pesky finance people.

    Oh– and if your last overall performance review score was “meets expectations” or below, don’t bother asking until next year.


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