How to talk to your boss about the raise you deserve

How to talk to your boss about the raise you deserve

Don’t sell yourself short and start getting paid what you’re worth.

BY Michelle Rennex, 5 min READ

Chatting to your boss about a raise you feel you deserve is a pretty tricky topic. With most workplaces frowning upon discussing salary with colleagues, it can be hard to figure out if you’re getting paid what you’re worth. In our recent Masterclass Online, “How to Get Paid What You’re Worth”, HR expert Rhonda Brighton-Hall taught us how to prepare for those seemingly-daunting salary conversations.

Decide what’s important to you

Before you start putting a dollar figure to what you think you deserve, you need to work out what you love about your job. According to the 2017 Happy Workers Report, purposeful work, great relationships and the agency and freedom to do your job were cited to be the things that people cared about most. On the other hand, a lack of fairness and really long hours were the main cause of discontent in those some 7,500 surveyed.

In understanding what aspects of your job appeal to you, you’ll be able to know what you will and won’t stand for. For example, if you’re able to work super flexible hours and do really meaningful work, you might be more understanding if your expectations in salary aren’t matched. This is often the case in small businesses and not-for-profit organisations where budgets are a lot smaller than larger corporations.

Determine your worth

To a company, your pay is determined by your skillset and experience, your position and how its relative to the rest of the people in the organisation, and your performance. But with how busy your manager or boss are usually means they can simply just be unaware of the changing market rates unless you flag them. So, this means in preparation for any conversations you have, you should do your own research to get a ballpark figure which you can refer to.

You can try speaking to your colleagues or if they’re not comfortable with that, you can talk to family and friends who are doing similar jobs. Utilising online pay scale sites and job advertisements with salary ranges are also great ways to come up with pay reference points. If all else fails, you can seek a recruiter who can provide with a pay range based on your experience, skills and industry. You should also remember that you shouldn’t discount your value because of factors like only working a four-day work week. This is because your salary is already calculated at 4/5 of a normal salary so you shouldn’t have to sell yourself short.

 Carefully plan your salary conversation

It can be pretty disheartening to find out that someone with a similar skillset and experience is earning more than you. But you should never have a conversation about salary when you’re angry, upset or emotional. Rhonda explains that this can make your manager think of you as erratic and high maintenance and you want to ensure your relationships at work remain strong and aren’t strained as a result of these conversations. If you do choose to leave your job because your salary expectations weren’t met, you want to make sure you stay professional so you’ll at least have a good reference to fall back on.

You’ll want to go into your meeting calm and with a plan. Ensure that you plan for the meeting with ample time for discussion, and for a time of day and on a week that makes sense. Carefully choose less stressful times of the year where your boss can actually be more receptive to what you’re asking for. For example, you should keep in mind that most budgets are set annually so planning your conversation around there will likely be better for both you and your boss.


Our monthly Masterclass Online is FREE for Premium members and only $24.95 for non-members, with special bonus Masterclasses sometimes incurring a small fee. To see our full Masterclass Online schedule, visit here.

Rhonda Brighton-Hall is CEO of mwah. Making Work Absolutely Human, Chair of the AHRI National I&D Reference Panel, the original Chair of FlexCareers, and is recognised as one of Australia’s foremost experts on People and Culture, HR processes, and the future design of organisations, leadership and work.

Image credit: Stocky

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