Think of how you feel when someone sounds defensive, or angry, or entitled, or pleading. If you consider each of these postures seriously, you begin to get a queasy feeling. None of them are pleasant attributes to imagine when having a conversation about a topic that may be challenging. Yet these are often the factors that emerge when a discussion between boss and employee about a raise come into play.
In conducting a conversation about a potential raise, remember that “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Making your boss feel relaxed and rational during a conversation with you will go a long way toward improving your chances of getting what you want. (It’s also likely to be a lot better for your morale as well.)
First of all, consider the fact that your boss probably comes to the meeting with his or her own predispositions about what to do in this situation. Your boss has likely spent time thinking about whether you deserve a raise, whether it’s financially possible, and what dollar amount or percentage is a realistic figure. The conversation with you can make or break those decisions.
Being calm and rational, as well as trying to understand things from your boss’s point of view, will go a long way toward making the conversation end the way you prefer. Realize that there are limitations on what your boss can offer. Be flexible and creative. Be willing to offer solutions your boss may not have considered.
Can’t reach the dollar figure you believe you deserve? How about suggesting some other perk that might be added to the raise? Whether that be company-paid training, more time off, a new position or title, or a better office space, remember that everything is negotiable. Have one or two things that you really desire, don’t just grab randomly from the air. Be sure to come to the table with one perk that won’t cost the company anything. (For example, a new title may help you get a better job once you leave the company, but it won’t cost your boss a thing at the present moment.)
Go well prepared to present your case. Try and work with your boss. Address the concerns raised. Most important of all, remember that how you express yourself will determine the attitude your boss will adopt toward you when discussing your raise. The more you can step into your boss’s shoes, the more willing your boss will be to try and see things from your perspective.
Maintaining professional composure during any discussion (and particularly about your raise) will let your boss know that he or she can trust you with an honest assessment, without negative repercussions or game-playing. It will make your boss more open and willing to see you as a partner instead of adversary. Keeping an open dialogue, not only at raise time, is a valuable tool for any employee.