Get­ting that pay raise

To­day, we start an oc­ca­sional se­ries on busi­ness English which dis­cusses the psy­chol­ogy of busi­ness as well as sub­tle dif­fer­ences in pop­u­lar phrases.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE -

ASK­ING for a pay raise is a bit like ask­ing some­one out on a date. There’s the same ner­vous ten­sion, long­ing for ac­cep­tance, and fear of re­jec­tion.

Yet there’s no rea­son for that feel­ing: un­less you hap­pen to be a bil­lion­aire, you’re un­likely to be work­ing for love. Sell­ing skills, en­ergy, time, loy­alty, and so on in re­turn for a salary is purely a busi­ness trans­ac­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis that started in 2007 that has been hailed as the mod­ern equiv­a­lent of the Great De­pres­sion means money is tight. How­ever, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask for a raise. The trick to im­prov­ing the chances of suc­cess is in the phras­ing.

In good times, you can be blunt and say boss, I want a raise. In hard times, when bosses are al­ler­gic to words like in­crease and raise, sub­tler phras­ing is nec­es­sary. Try: boss, I’d like to dis­cuss my com­pen­sa­tion pack­age. word pack­age, you leave the door open to dis­cussing cash al­ter­na­tives such as petrol al­lowances, fam­ily health in­surance cov­er­age, flex­itime, and perks like free park­ing. I ap­pre­ci­ate that fi­nances are tough. Could we dis­cuss non-salary perks?

While as­sertive­ness is a good thing, be­ing too blunt can sound ag­gres­sive, and work against you. Avoid you are un­der­pay­ing me in favour of I feel my salary does not re­flect my value to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Talk­ing to ri­val com­pa­nies, or check­ing with re­cruiters to see what you’re worth to an­other com­pany if you leave, can be seen as hos­tile too. How­ever, you can present use­ful in­for­ma­tion as “re­search”: I have re­searched cur­rent mar­ket condi-

Sir Richard Bran­son tions, and be­lieve I am not re­ceiv­ing the fair mar­ket value for my work. Tip: Kelly Ser­vices of­fers a Malaysia Salary Guide at kell­y­ser­ my.

It’s stan­dard prac­tice to ac­com­pany a raise request with a list of your achieve­ments: new clients you’ve brought in, po­ten­tial dis­as­ters you an­tic­i­pated, and so on. Busi­ness mogul Sir Richard Bran­son sug­gests in Busi­ness Stripped Bare (Vir­gin Books, 2009) that you also at­tach a brand-new sug­ges­tion that con­trib­utes to the bot­tom line – and then ask for a per­cent­age of that sav­ing as your in­crease.

Al­ter­na­tively, if the boss isn’t will­ing to dis­cuss a salary in­crease, ask for a per­for­mance-re­lated bonus based on rev­enue growth, turnover, or what­ever mea­sure­ment you find use­ful. It means you’ll have to wait for your money, but it’s bet­ter than noth­ing, right? Good luck!

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