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How to ask for a raise (without getting on your boss’s nerves)

Xavier Quentin Pranata
Xavier Quentin Pranata

Lecturer, writer and public speaker

Jakarta | Wed, September 13, 2017 | 03:59 pm
How to ask for a raise (without getting on your boss’s nerves)

Patience of a certain amount often brings about a beautiful outcome when you're planning to propose a salary raise. (Shutterstock/File)

Talking about your salary with the boss can be a very sensitive subject, if you don't approach it properly. As with any professional discussion, wait for the right timing and plan ahead.

So, what's the best way to ask for a raise?

1. Check your company policy

Every company is different. Some give regularly scheduled raises, such as once every semester – every 6 months – while others provide raises at yearly intervals. Check if your company has a salary policy for giving raises on a regular basis, or only during a good turnover.

If your company gives scheduled raises, rest assured that you will receive a raise periodically. The problem arises when the raise doesn't meet your expectations. Employees always demand a higher raise, while employers tend to be conservative.

How to be fair? Check the inflation rate. If the inflation rate is 5 percent, for example, and your raise is also 5 percent, this means that you haven't received a raise. If inflation is 10 percent, however, then it means you got a 5 percent raise.

2. Check your basic and gross salaries

Take note of your basic salary and your gross salary, or take-home pay – the amount that actually lands in your bank account after taxes are deducted and allowances are added. You need to know these amounts when thinking about asking for a raise. There are cases where the basic salary may be low but the take-home pay is high, because of bonuses, overtime, allowances and other benefits.

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3. Assess your own performance

To avoid an unrealistic assessment, ask your colleagues about your performance, particularly those in a higher position. You have the right to ask for a raise if you have been performing very well in your role, but remember that the word is "asking", not "questioning". There is a subtle difference between the two. Asking for a raise is a right, while questioning your salary implies a protest.

Also check if your colleagues who have been working for relatively the same duration at a similar level or in a similar role as you have received a raise recently.

You might also want to check the salaries of colleagues one level higher or lower than you. Be sure to check first if your company's policy forbids employees from sharing their salaries with others.

4. Find the right moment

Check your boss's schedule for the right moment to set up a meeting – yes, make an appointment – to discuss your salary. Also be aware of the company's financial standing and any corporate achievements it has made.

Asking for a raise is a common and legitimate thing to do as an employee. Nonetheless, it is wise to broach the subject when the company is in a healthy financial state and your boss is in a good mood.

5. Be professional

You must be mentally prepared for the chance that your salary proposal might be rejected. You might be disappointed, but don't show it: stay professional. Showing despair or breaking down in front of your boss is a big no-no!. 

Following a rejection, keep fulfilling your responsibilities and performing well. If your boss sees you continuing to work professionally, it's not possible that your boss may promote you, so a "raise" is definitely coming your way.

Your proposal being rejected doesn't mean no more hope for you. It may mean that your company doesn't have the fund to raise their employees salaries. Patience of a certain amount often brings about a beautiful outcome.

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What if, no matter how good your efforts are, your boss simply doesn't seem to care?

First, check: Are your colleagues experiencing the same fate as you? From sharing with your colleagues, you can determine what's going on at your workplace. There are stingy companies that rarely give their employees the raise they deserve, let alone bonuses.

Second, evaluate yourself: A general self-assessment is not only good for physical health, but also to check your performance and stamina at work. Keep up what you're good at and work on what you're lacking. How? By learning from your seniors, reading more books, and attending trainings relevant to your field.

Third, find other ways to earn more: You may still continue with your current job while looking for other ways to increase your income, for example by utilizing the internet. Or you may consider freelance projects.

Dig out your business skills. Who knows that becoming an enterpreneur might be your life's calling?

Finally, find a new job: If you don't see any future prospects for yourself at your company, start looking for a new job. So long as you don't cause losses to the company and always follow the rules, you are free to look for another job outside your working hours. Be aware of any company policy that might lead to getting fired while you're looking, and be sure to get any necessary permission first. Stay working while waiting for a better opportunity.

Last but not least, look up to the Big Boss of all bosses. Prayers, in my own experience, has great power.

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Xavier Quentin Pranata is a lecturer, writer and public speaker. Find his writings at www.xavierquentin.com and www.xavier.web.id.

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