You’ve gotten the courage to ask for a raise only to have a manager say, “A raise isn’t in the budget. Wait until review time.” You may feel like you’ve hit a brick wall when your manager tells you to wait.
But the truth is raises are given all year round, even outside of year-end review. Let me share insider advice from many years of experience in operating and management roles — at Yahoo, Walmart and now as CEO of Paysa. Here’s how to respond if your raise request gets sidelined by your manager.
How do companies give raises?
If you think raises are budgeted at the end of the year, you’re right. Year-end adjustments and raises are budgeted and the team or division level. There are strict guidelines to how that money is allocated — typically based on performance reviews. Raises are given at the end of the year because they can be adjusted up or down depending on how well the company is doing.
With that said, raises and promotions are given all the time outside of year-end review. If a company is doing well, then there’s more revenue than expected. That means managers have money to spend on raises. However, a company need not be having an exceptional year to be able to offer pay increases. Even if earnings are flat, there is usually still money available in the budget. Managers have what is called “discretionary” funds, means which they can spend as they see fit.
Why do managers push back?
Managers often deflect raise requests by saying you need to wait until the end of the year. They’ll say your raise is subject to end of the year budgets. Typically, this is a first line of defense. However, this is something I’ve never seen to be true — ever. A raise request can be considered any time.
When management tells people to wait, 80% of them walk away and wait. This is exactly what managers want to happen. Your raise request costs time and paperwork. You make management’s job easier by not asking for a raise. Even though you give your all to your job, managers aren’t necessarily going to go the extra mile for you. But in reality, delaying a raise is demoralizing to you and that’s not good for you or the company.
How to ask for raise despite manager protests?
If you’re up for it, I would recommend not letting the year-end excuse stand in your way and instead go to your boss. Here are the steps in asking for a raise:
- You deserve a raise.
If you think you deserve a raise, then you probably do. Before you ask for a raise, think of some good reasons you deserve one. Some good reasons you are doing superior work or perhaps you are being asked to take on more responsibility. You may feel like you are doing the work of two or even three people.
Another great reason to ask for a raise is you’re underpaid as compared to others in your field. Use our salary tool to search companies, job titles and geography to see how your pay compares to others with similar jobs.
- Time your ask.
You could time your request to coincide with year-end, but any time of year can work. But maybe there’s a time of day that works better than others. Try to time your ask early in the work day. Harvard researchers found morning worked best because that’s when managers’ moral compass is the sharpest. Also see the best (and worst) times to ask for a raise.
- Show data.
Share your accomplishments and value succinctly, so your boss can see how the company, team or division have grown. Show them the data you have gathered about what you should be earning.
- Share your love for the job.
Tell your boss that you love working there (so long as it’s true), want to stay and want to make a bigger impact. Telling your manager how much you love the job signals you aren’t just after money. Instead, you want to stay and continue giving your best to them (and not to a competitor). Appeal to the company’s self-interest by framing the ask in terms of how you want to help.
- Ask your manager for help.
An important part of conversation is for you to ask for help. Tell your boss you need their help in finding a solution that remedies the gap between your current compensation and your true market value. Asking for a pay jump need not be an adversarial conversation. Instead, you are inviting your manager to work with you.
Author: Chris Bolte