“Any suggestions for getting a Promotion or Raise?”

Question: Alan, I like your ideas on presenting value to your employer, especially what you call “triggers of value,” in order to get a promotion or raise. 

Do you have any suggestions for how to handle presenting what you call a “triggers of value” or similar memo to get a promotion or raise when this sort of thing is not part of the corporate culture? In the past, when following up on these types of conversations with email, management has become defensive. Thanks.

Boston, Massachusetts

Answer: Dear Paul:

Paul, thank for your very helpful question. (For those who are not familiar with using “Triggers of Value” memos when requesting raises or promotions, you can read a good summary of the topic if you [click here].) “Triggers of Value” memos are not “magic,” but they are based on a fundamental element of human nature and smart negotiating: If someone perceives you as valuable to them, they are more likely to be good to you. A “Triggers of Value” memo simply ensures that your value, and what you seek in return, is clearly known. Most commonly, this increases your chances of getting what you seek.

a. First and foremost, you are wise to observe and respect your employer’s corporate culture. If you feel that “Triggers of Value” memos violate your employer’s corporate culture, then by all means don’t use them. You’ve mentioned, in particular, that using emails in asking for a raise or promotion seems to lead to defensiveness; then by all means don’t do what doesn’t work. Instead, try to determine what does work: Conversations on the golf course? One-on-one meetings with supervisors? Letting managers know you are interviewing elsewhere? Some of your colleagues do get raises and bonuses: ask some of them how they did it. 

b. Second, perhaps your “Triggers of Value” memo is too direct and/or forceful, and not “gentle” enough. There is a big difference between, on the one hand, “I have done X, therefore I deserve Y,” and, on the other hand, “As you can see, I love this company and my job; any guidance and support you are willing to provide me regarding my ability to grow with it would be so very much appreciated.” You can also say, after an in-person meeting, quite simply, “Thanks so much for the meeting. I found it very motivating.” Nonetheless, even a simple “Thanks for the meeting” email can prove upsetting to some employers.

c. Perhaps instead of as a post-conversation “Meeting Follow-up,” you might try using a “Triggers of Value” memo as a “Pre-Meeting Agenda” memo. There are many people who, upon receiving an email AFTER a meeting, read it and say to themselves, “Hey – I didn’t say that! He (or she) is rewriting history.” To prevent that feeling in your superiors, you might try instead using your “Triggers of Value” memo pre-meeting, as respectful preparation for that meeting.

d. Consider, perhaps, an Annual “Triggers of Value” memo as part of your Annual Performance Review. Consider the possibility of using your “Triggers of Value” memo in the context of your annual review, as your response to the process. It may just seem to be more as part of “their” process, and not “your” efforts to convince them.

e. Consider making only an Oral Presentation of Your “Triggers of Value.” One suggestion may be to simply avoid the written part of a “Triggers of Value” memo, and instead lean entirely on your oral presentation, and firm handshake.

f. Lastly, remember that, at least in some companies, value is not what gets people hired, raises or promotions, but only politics count. Unfortunately, in some companies and organizations, “perceived value” is not what gets people hired, promoted, or more highly compensated. Instead, in some companies and organizations, politics and only politics make a difference in these decisions, which is entirely legal. Whether or not hiring, promotion and compensation is merit-driven or politics-driven is a very central part of an employer’s corporate culture.

Though every company and organization grew to be what it is due to the value it presented to its clients, customers or others, many do grow so large that they do remain in existence – at least for some time – by politics, and not value. But that does not work forever, and these tend to be the companies and organizations that eventually wither, die, are taken over or go bankrupt. Value, always and eternally, will determine human success, just as it does in the long run, in the natural world.

If you would like to obtain a Model Memo Requesting a Promotion based on “Triggers of Value” [click here].

Hope this helps. If so, please consider recommending us to a few of your friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media.

Best to you,

Al Sklover   

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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