“What should I do if the raise offered is insufficient?”

Question: First of all, I am a great fan of your valuable career advices.

I work in the educational sector managed by a renowned businessman. I had an exceptional year in regards to my performance. I achieved all of my goals and went beyond my job description and contributed to a number of new areas in which I excelled.

At the time of my hiring, I was given a letter that, along with my salary, I was also to receive a commission on the trainings I conduct. Being a sincere employee of the organization, I did not conduct any trainings in the year as I felt the organization would benefit more from other efforts at a critical juncture.

At the time of my performance appraisal, I was recommended a 14% increase by my immediate supervisor. After my immediate supervisor was terminated, one of the management people told me that those with high salaries have no reason to get a raise; my response was that, with inflation so high, people who do not get raises may leave. I was given a 7% raise.

Since then, I have requested that management reconsider that decision, and instead give me the recommended 14% raise. I even developed a PowerPoint presentation on my accomplishments and submitted it to management in support of my request. I have not received a response for 8 months now. Recently, when I met the CEO, he asked why I did not yet accept my raise, and I told him it is because of my request for reconsideration. He was silent.

Kindly advise what to do.

Karachi, Pakistan

Answer: Dear Raza:

Many people face the same problem you face, especially with rising inflation: on the one hand, inflation is making food, fuel, and other necessities more expensive. On the other hand, employers feel limited in what they can do to provide employees compensation. It’s difficult for all “sides.”

That said, all is not hopeless. There are things you can do:  

1. Consider all perspectives: Are your expectations reasonable? Raza, please know that I am not commenting on whether a 7% raise is reasonable, unacceptable, or even excessive. I don’t know the market in which you are employed, or whether you came in “low” or “high” compared to that market, or what the business environment is where you work. I do know that some of my clients sometimes focus too much on what THEY feel THEY want, need and/or deserve, and not enough on other factors, especially what THEIR EMPLOYER’s view of the circumstances are. In some situations a 7% raise would be considered wonderful; in some circumstances it would be considered an insult. I think this is the very first step all people should take: consider all pertinent information and perspectives.  

2. Employees are hired and paid according to their “perception of value” to their Employers; consider Enhancing Yours. How valuable – or critical – are you to your employer? Do you arrive early and stay late? Do you speak a language that no one else speaks? Are you the top salesperson, top new business developer, or top administrator? Be really frank with yourself: Do you do all you can to make your employer afraid to lose you? These are the people who tend to get the best raises.

3. Employees are paid and given raises according to their “perception of value to their Employers; consider Promoting Yours. Even if you are one of the most valuable employees in your department or company, do the “Decision Makers” know that? Top producers do not get top raises unless the Decision Makers know they are the top producers. Each of us must accept that we cannot only “do” our jobs, but we must, too, “advertise  our value in order to keep our jobs. Be really frank with yourself: Do you devote time and effort to “self-promotion?” If the top brands of the world – from Pepsi to Prada – have to promote themselves, so do you.

4. You might also find “Triggers of Value” a helpful concept. Especially when you have already asked for a raise and have not been successful, you might consider a “Triggers of Value” memo, which expresses this thought: “Is there anything I could do that would result in my getting my desired raise?” Surely, if you saved the company $10 million, your employer would probably give you a $10,000 raise. Surely, if you brought in $1 billion in new business, your employer would probably give you a $10,000 raise. OK, now let’s get realistic: in your job, what is that “something” that will get you the raise? There’s nothing wrong with asking if ANYTHING would do it.

If you would like to obtain a Model Letter to request a raise that you can adapt for your own use, [click here].

5. Consider if there are Acceptable “Alternatives” to a Raise: When faced with frustration in getting a raise, some people consider asking for other valuable “alternatives” that do not entail out-of-pocket expense for employers, such as a better job title, more vacation days, or the right to work from home two days a week.

To read a newsletter we wrote on this very subject [click here].  

6. Finally, you may have to consider finding “More Fertile Soil.” One thing you may need to consider is “If I want to get paid more, I may need to look for a job elsewhere.” It’s just a fact that some employers feel they simply cannot pay employees more, and some employers simply do not want to, and will not, no matter what. If this is the case, it is probably time to consider looking elsewhere.

From what you have written, you’ve tried all of the steps noted above, other than Steps 4 and 5. You might consider them. Whichever next steps you do take, good luck in your efforts. Don’t ever accept less than you truly deserve, but at the same time understand that – in this place and at this time – what has been offered may be all that you can obtain.

Al Sklover

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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