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!

Before you approach your boss for a Bonus . . .

So your holiday bills are rolling in and you realize, dang, I need some cash, FAST! Maybe your boss will give you a bonus, right? Well probably not, if all you have to back you is your need. What have you done for your boss lately?

If you have been working diligently – making your boss’ life easier, then you have a fighting chance. However, if you’ve been goofing off or distracted, do not go ask for a raise! In most cases the, “It never hurts to ask,” mentality is good, but when it comes to getting your manager to part with a few pennies . . .

The logic is this: you have a finite number of opportunities each year to request an upgrade, i.e. a bonus. If you squander those opportunities, well, you are totally out-of-luck no matter how great you are. There is a certain seasonality to the process. February – just after the books for last year are closed and your boss knows if there’s some extra cash. July – as your boss budgets for the forthcoming year and enjoys the Northern hemisphere summer, and late-October as your boss’ College Football team is heading for a National Title (a few weeks later if NFL fans). Sure, it seems ridiculous, but there are generousity spikes at those times during the year. I studied and put that very information to use myself while running a not-for-profit years back, grew our donations 5000%, seriously. . . .

But here’s the catch. You have to have been extraordinarily productive in the months just prior to the request or your opportunity is null and void. You will be much less successful (i.e. fail) if you’ve been slacking off just prior to one of these “generousity inflection points,” GIPs. To maximize your GIP potential, work your tushie off for the 2+ months prior to the GIP. For the February GIP, make sure you work extra hard December and January. Got it?

Of course what I really advocate is working your tushie off, excelling beyond comprehension ALL THE TIME, but if you’re one of those folks who has to pace himself, well, use the GIP guide.

So what do you do if a GIP is not soon enough or you know you have to wait out this GIP? First, become very aware of what your boss needs so that she looks awesome to her boss. Second, do it, or at least help her do it. Find a way to insert yourself into your boss’ career path so she can’t help but appreciate you. Avoid passive-aggressive tendencies . . . if you are helping her, do it without expectation of gratification.. You are creating the foundation from which you will be able to approach her for more: money, time, responsibility later.

Go forth and be prosperous!

Office Party Etiquette – Who you bring

Office Etiquette – the office party . . . who you bring.

This may sound a bit prudish and perhaps even anal-retentive, but you really need to know this. Follow the office party invitation instructions precisely. That means, unless it states that guests are welcome . . . Guests are NOT welcome, even your spouse who knows everybody and is looking forward to seeing them.

There are many reasons the guest list may be limited and it really isn’t for you to figure out. Just play along nicely and no one gets hurt. Sure your spouse may get his feelings hurt, but you guys can always host your own party. This is an official company function and planning decisions have been made. Respect those decisions. The consequences for disrespecting the decision may not be immediately apparent, but you will no doubt leave an impression on the internal planner of the event – who may have more sway with upper management than you imagine.

It’s kind of like a wedding. Would you show up with a guest if you weren’t “and guest”ed on the invitation? (say no, please say no!!)

Exactly (you did say no, right??)

Office Party Etiquette – Be on Time

Few employees seem to grasp the importance of the Office Holiday Party. Of course you do . . . but those other employees…..

If the invitation states 7PM, get there before 7:30PM – even if you have to put your lipstick and mascara on once you arrive. Office parties really are an extension of your work environment. Punctuality is very important.

Let’s face it, if you’re not getting there on time during the week, well, you don’t have the fire in your belly to make much out of your career and I’m not really writing this column for you. For those of you who do get there on time during the week, keep up the good work and get to the office party on time.

FASHIONABLY LATE: In this context, fashionably late = 5-10 minutes late.

If you can not make it on time, and you have a very good reason, plan to stay late, particularly if you are a manager. It is up to you to socialize with your employees and your bosses. This is the one time of the year (for most firms) that you can genuinely dramatically expand your network within the company. This has obvious benefits for promotions within the firm and less obvious benefits for finding a better job down the road.

Office Party Etiquette – Beware the Cookie Monster

Office Party Etiquette – Eating

What you push into that lovely face of yours says more about you than you may appreciate. Now, don’t get all paranoid, but do consider the following:

For a cocktail hour/hors d’oeuvres:
1. Stick to the truly finger food items – occasionally a lousy caterer (or your bosses spouse in some cases) will serve psuedo finger food because he/she doesn’t know better – this includes items that take more than one bite to consume AND lose their structure (i.e. squish) as you take the first bite . . .  as well as fried items that may drip grease on you. Anything that can ooze on you WILL.
stick to things that can be POLITELY consumed in one bite.

2. Beware the spicy/saucy/dairy items. If you have any tendency toward tummy rumbles, you should be old enough to be aware of what sets your tummy rumbling. For the sake of all concerned, please avoid those foods. 7 layer bean dip . . . jalapeno poppers . . . spicy wings . . .
3. Just shut up and eat it. If you have a real allergy – like peanuts cause death – then you know how to ask for food information tactfully and you may discard items that could kill you if you have picked them up in error. If on the other hand you simply do not like certain things, well you probably whine about it, stop. The Office Party is not the time, nor is it the place to whine . . . about anything. At a public event where you are being watched by the gatekeepers to your career, for heaven’s sake, just shut up and eat it. You picked up a spinach quesadilla with onions in it and you hate onions . . . well, never mind that that violates guideline #1 (single bite foods), just eat the damn thing. Onions aren’t going to kill you.

4. Feed yourself before you arrive – this is not a food trough. Every host/hostess appreciates guests enjoying their food, it is part of the joy of hosting. However, no one I know (except your Italian grandmother) appreciates you standing over the food table scarfing every morsel in sight. If you are really hungry, grab a bite to eat before you arrive so you won’t be tempted to position yourself at the food table.

5. When you pick up a food item, eat it quickly. No, I’m not advocating inhaling the item, but do be done with it. You never know when your Senior VP, Boss, Company President will walk up to have a conversation with you. With a drink in one hand and a meatball in the other, it is very difficult to shake hands. Women can get away with the pinky finger handshake, but men . . . if you ever give a pinky finger handshake – no matter what your *orientation* may be – you will be written off as weak. That and you just look stupid standing there with two hands full.

6. Keep your hands and mouth clean. After that meatball, make sure your hands are not sticky. Carry wet wipes with you if necessary. Again avoid the foods that will cause the most trouble – why anyone serves wings at a function is beyond me – they’re a mess!

7. Keep your drink in your left hand. In the US, we shake hands with our right hands. It is really best if that hand be dry and clean when you are greeting others. Drink napkins rarely provide enough absorption. Do you really want your boss to feel a sloppy wet, cold hand when you greet him? Drink your drink of choice, but understand that wine stems provide the best means for keeping your hands dry.

Office Party Etiquette – actually, no, please do not have another

A very popular and loaded question is, “How much can I drink at the Office Party?

Well, if you have to ask, you are probably accustomed to drinking too much – certainly too much for an office party.

Before I get flooded with e-mail retorts, YES, even if your work environment has a culture of excessive drinking – my past work environments certainly did – you still need to limit your alcohol consumption. Again, WOMEN, please take particular note, this is doubly important for you. Yes, it stinks, I agree.

Here’s the scoop: when you are out drinking with your office colleagues and you get *loaded* well, that’s bad, but workable within certain limits. When you get *loaded* at the office party, well, your boss’ sober husband is watching you – remembering every detail of that rant you gave under the influence, and as it turns out . . . he totally disagrees with your opinion on Jar, Jar/Britney/Fed Fund rate change/String Theory/whatever.

When you’re with your office buddies (presumably) you are all equally *loaded*. When you are at the office party, there may be some non-drinkers. So for the sake of your job and career, drinking responsibly takes on a whole new meaning. Indeed, though the booze may be “free” it’s effect on your career based on behavior at the office party can be quite costly.

Holiday Party Drinking Tips:

  • Limit drinks with alcohol to a maximum of two.
  • Avoid mixing drinks.
  • Drink coffee, tea, soft drinks and water.

Ladies, again, this is doubly important for you. Sorry. Don’t fall prey to peer pressure to throw back a few extra to “prove” yourself to the team at the Office Party (or ever if you can avoid it). Type A personalities, LISTEN UP!

If you must, encourage your team to do something “manly” that will at least let you show strength. Take them to the gun range and fire off a few rounds (after you’ve practiced once or twice). Women metabolize alcohol a wee bit differently and generally weigh less than the men goading them into a drink-a-thon. Getting drunk only ever shows weakness – no matter how invincible you feel at the time. This being said by someone who puts down her fair share….

Party like a *sober* Rockstar. Onwards and upwards!

Office Party Etiquette – what you CAN do with a copy machine

Office Party Etiquette for Holidays and Other Occasions.

Thankfully, not too many companies still host office parties within the office after hours, but plenty are shutting down early on a Friday to booze up before sending employees home . . . besides the obvious potential for lawsuits stemming from drunk employees mismanaging their vehicles, the Friday office party happy hour isn’t such a bad idea.

At least significant others are spared from trying to create polite conversation with your co-workers.

But now you have a comedy sketch waiting to happen. Eggnog in the kitchen, copier is warm – who wouldn’t be tempted? Right?

So what can you do with (name available alcohol here ….) a bottle of Tequila and a Copy Machine AND still have your job come Monday?

1. BEFORE the bottle is open, you can copy a picture of your smiling FACE next to the bottle. When the original comes out decide if you will use it as the interoffice invite (deliver by hand for extra style points), your holiday card (shrink to postcard size and copy onto card stock), or simply as fine art for your cubicle (please remove after 2 weeks).

2.  AFTER the bottle is open, don’t even think about going near the copier. Don’t do it. You’ll look like a Scottish fella in a field full of sheep. You’ll be busted by the office prude so fast your head will spin . . . more.
Remember, YouTube is everywhere. It’s worse than Big Brother.

Next up: If SOs are included, how to tag team an office party for maximum career advancement.

Investing versus Employment

Can you build wealth by being an Employee?


When thinking about your financial picture consider that having stability is the foundation from which you want to build. Some people prize that stability more than others. If you remember selling bumper stickers door-to-door in your neighborhood for extra bucks at the age of 7, and gumballs door-to-door at age 5, well, then you may have an entrepreneurial streak or at least a penchant for sales. Even still, you may prefer the “safety” net of working for someone else.

While current employment is no guarantee of future employment, the fact is, it is a lot easier to be an employee than it is to own a business for 99% of the population. Recognizing which part of the population you are in is paramount to your success. Even if job security isn’t what it once was, deluding yourself that you can operate a full business is always what’s it’s been – a disaster.

Take a soulful look at which you prefer and get a few more ideas: How to Build Wealth – Investing versus Employment

Day 2 of How to Stash Your Cash

So now that you know what you want and how to divide the rest so you can get what you want, you need a place to store it, yes?

Enter: Stash your Cash. Part 2 is live. GET TO IT!
Start at the very beginning. Go here if you are just joining us at Miss Mentor and want the full Monty of personal finance.

Start at the beginning of Stash your Cash – the kinds of bank and investing accounts you need . . . even when you don’t think you have money to put in them if you missed yesterday and can’t be bothered to scroll down.

Why is it important to know how to build wealth, um, seriously, do you need to ask that?

It’s office party time – Office Party Etiquette

Office Party Etiquette – because you really do need your job.

Tempting though it is to tell your boss what a #*#B*ing bleep he is, that’s not the spirit of the season, and you probably want to have your job tomorrow . . . and the next day, particularly if you are planning to pay your holiday bills. You DO plan to pay your holiday bills don’t you??

Fine, fine.

So this week and next we will share so tips to navigate the tricky waters of Holiday Office Parties. Because Office Etiquette doesn’t stop at 5PM.

Tip #1: Do NOT, under any circumstances bring the guy/girl you shacked up with for the first time this past weekend, or worse, last night. This will seem blindingly obvious to most of my readers, but enough of you . . .

Here’s the scoop. That random hook-up and your office do not mix.

1. He/She is probably not nearly as cute as you remember (or don’t remember as the case may be).

2. He/She may not be the best behaved in public situations – remember his/her job is not at stake at YOUR office party.

3. He/She may not have that much interest in you – this one can sting the most – imagine, your office frenemy hooks up with your date. Really bad form and dare I say, bad office etiquette on behalf of your frenemy, but you brought in the fresh meat…. Your own fault.

4. He/She won’t agree to tell everyone that you’ve been seeing each other for a month and instead tells everyone about your sloppy kissing technique – you will be forever renamed “Soupy,” even by your boss. Promotion chance – for the guys, probably up; for the girls, decidedly down.

Tomorrow: what you CAN do with a copy machine and a pint of Tequila.