Asking for a payrise?

Often in life, we hold back expressing our needs as we worry about the other person's reaction. When you think about it, what's the worst thing that could happen if you ask for a pay rise?

Michelle Gibbings has all the insight you need to make sure you get what you deserve

The employment market is in positive territory and whether you call it the great resignation, reshuffle or realignment, there are many opportunities – including negotiating a pay rise.

Of course, it is something most people dread but remember that when you shy away from negotiating, you are walking away from potential upsides – increased pay, more flexible working hours and other employment benefits. Knowing how to ask for what you want is critical and with some planning and strategising, asking the question doesn’t need to be complicated. Let’s get started.

Pick your timing

Most organisations have performance and pay review cycles, and it helps to know how that process works. First, ask before budgets for the new financial year are locked in. Secondly, pick a time when your boss is more likely to be receptive, rather than tired, stressed or distracted. And pick a time that works for you. Negotiating is mentally taxing, and your mind will be pushed and pulled in many directions. Going into the discussion when you are tired or stressed risks you being less equipped to manage it.

Build your case

Be clear on the value you bring to your role and how you demonstrate it. Use evidence and data to explain why you deserve a pay rise. You want to be reasonable with your request so find out the going rates in the industry. That way, you’ll understand whether your request is above or in line with the market.

Know their needs

Seek to understand the other people involved – their operating style, agenda, needs and what they care about. The more you know those involved, the more significant insights you’ll have into what they are likely to support or reject. When you make the request, state your wants objectively and in a way that will resonate with your boss or whoever you are negotiating with. Make sure to also explain how this will benefit the organisation.

Consider your trade-offs

Be prepared to consider the options available. What matters the most to you? What might you be willing to give up as part of the negotiation process? For example, you may be willing to trade time for money or money for more holidays.

Get on the front foot

Research shows we don’t like people who initiate negotiations for higher pay. One way to address it is to get on the front foot. Walk into the negotiation and say: “I want to say up front that I’m going to negotiate for this pay rise, and the research shows that because I do this, you’re going to like me less when I do.”Let that sink in for a minute then move into the negotiation. 

Think about the steps

How might the negotiation process unfold? What may be required to secure an agreement? Think about each of these steps in advance of the discussion. Running through possible scenarios and outcomes will enable you to respond better as issues or objections are raised during the discussion. 

Don’t ask – don’t get

Often in life, we hold back expressing our needs as we worry about the other person’s reaction. When you think about it, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you ask for a pay rise? They say no. Don’t let fear hold you back. On that note, if it’s a no, find out what would need to change for their response to change. Do they need to see more contributions or have more budget? If they have no intention of ever considering a pay rise, you’ll want to assess alternative options – often the best way to get a pay rise is shifting roles.  

Slow down

If you find your mind racing during the negotiation, focus on breathing and breathing deeply. This helps your nerves relax and your heart rate to slow, making it easier to reflect and respond calmly.

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert. She has written several books, including her latest ‘Bad Boss – What to do if you work for on, manage one or are one’