When Your Boss Says “No” to a Raise

If you’re among the 43% who’ve mustered the courage to ask for a raise, there’s a 75% chance you received some type of bump according to a Payscale survey* of 30,000+ employees.

Those are pretty decent odds, but what about the other 25%?

It’s not unusual for bosses to conveniently stand behind “company policy” when the topic of a raise comes up. It’s pretty much a conversation ender.

Most know that it’s critical to prepare for a raise discussion by building a case to show your value and the return on investment the company is getting through your work. But if that fails, here are some alternatives:

  • Strike while the iron’s hot. Did you just a land a new client, finish a monster project, or step in to save the day after your colleague quit unexpectedly? Recognize the opportunities and take advantage of key timing.
  • Know your alternatives. If you’re met with “no,” have a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) such as a one-time bonus, additional vacation days, or approval for overtime pay. Or, if there are higher-paying roles in your organization that you’re qualified for, start networking internally.
  • Ask your boss to be your ally. Your Manager’s job is to toe the company line, but it’s also to retain great employees. If you’ve done exceptional work, ask your boss what they would do in your shoes to get ahead. It’s harder for someone to give a rote reply when they’re thinking about the situation from a firsthand point of view.
  • Work within the guidelines. If raises are only granted once annually, have a discussion with your manager about your expectations for your next salary review so you know specifically what you need to do to earn the paycheck you deserve. This gives you ample time to exceed expectations and her ample time to have necessary discussions with Human Resources.
  • Consider a last resort. It’s an unfortunate reality that to get a large bump in salary, you often need to move to a different company. You’d think organizations would’ve figured out they’re losing great (and trained!) talent due to a rigid stance on “policy” regarding compensation. Since that’s not the case, finding a new job may be the most effective way to earn your market value.

Oh, and if you’re in the 57% from the Payscale survey who haven’t yet asked for a raise, what are you waiting for?? The odds are in your favor.

Happy hunting!

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