Resolving To Seek Higher Pay Sets an Achievable Goal
by David J. Bowman
Every New Year, most of us make resolutions intended to make our personal or working lives better. Of course, we tend forget about them nearly as quickly as we make them.
But there’s one resolution that can be made and actualized quickly: you can get a raise. It takes some research in terms of what you’ve contributed to the organization, as well as what compensation levels exist elsewhere but a raise can be had quickly by following certain steps.
First, realize that asking for a raise is an emotional experience. Both dollars and ego are at stake so steeling yourself to the task and its outcome is necessary at the outset.
Next, when you approach the boss for a raise, you must have several things with you as proof that you deserve more money.
Memories can be short, so bring along past performance reviews. Your boss may not remember what he/she said about you last year or the year before. If there’s a new boss, he or she may not have had enough time to form opinions about you. In this case, past reviews can be essential.
An absolute must is a list of accomplishments you’ve performed for the organization. Have you increased revenues, decreased costs, or developed a better, faster, less costly system or method of doing things? Quantify these, in terms of dollars increased and/or costs or hours saved. You will justify your raise on the basis of receiving your share of the increased productivity you’ve produced.
You must have statistics involving a recent success with which you’ve been involved. If you were a member of a team, remember that you’re only asking for a share of the results of the success.
Prepare a list of salary ranges for the same or similar jobs both inside and outside your organization. Ask human resources about the salary range for your job. Depending on where you are in that range, you will know how much room there is for more money.
For external ranges, ask friends in other organizations, or perhaps those in industry associations about ranges elsewhere. Also, check salary.com or similar Web sites.
Obviously, assume positive body language. Sit straight and look the boss in the eye. Slouching and looking away indicate you are unsure of yourself, or that your information can’t be trusted.
Perhaps your organization has a salary freeze, or you have found through research that you’re at the upper end of the internal and external range for your job. Don’t despair. There are several alternate reward systems that your organization may be using 30 percent of the Fortune 500 use some form of variable compensation for non-executives (professionals, administrators, technicians, production personnel).
This percentage is even higher for management. Here are just a few you might investigate.
– Individual incentives based on company performance and/or individual achievement. Have you been included? Ask your boss or human resources about these.
– Instant incentives based on performance for specific projects. These generally amount to between 2 percent and 10 percent of annual salary. If you haven’t been included in such a plan, find out if it’s being offered in your organization and get in on it.
– Company-wide incentives. These usually are based on bonus points for performance of a particular job category and/or financial performance of a particular unit. If your job category isn’t rewarded as well as others, it may be time to consider a change. If your unit is a financial or productivity laggard, get into another one with better performance.
– Gain-sharing based on increased productivity and/or cost reductions. Typically, this system is used in manufacturing and operations functions. Have you been a part of these calculations? If you’re not included in gainsharing, consider if your job is peripheral to a group that’s within that system. Are you essential to their efficient operation? If you can make your case effectively, you may be included.
– Company stock. About 30 percent of U.S. companies use this reward system as an incentive. Regardless of the ups and downs of the stock market, this can be an attractive reward, presuming the stock is free.
Most resolutions for the new year require drastic mental or physical changes. Not so with getting a raise. If you have a history of accomplishments even minor ones, or those as part of a team and if you do some homework to become articulate in describing them, as well as to discover the alternate reward systems available, this resolution could come true quickly!
David Bowman is chairman TTG Consultants/Lincolnshire, a consulting firm. He can be reached at