How much more money would you like to make next year?

Good Monday morning,

With the end of the year approaching, how much more money would you like to make next year?  

Having an answer is important for your career.  Having a plan to get there is important for your bank account.

Gather your accomplishments

Start by making a list of your accomplishments for 2019.  It’s helpful to review your email, calendar, meeting agendas, Slack, and other records to remind yourself.  Put together the long list of achievements, successes, and milestones you’ve had this year. It might even make you surprised at how much you’ve done!

Using these raw materials, group them into three or four main themes, with lots of examples for each.  “Achieved sales growth”, or “increased development productivity”, or “boosted our unaided awareness” are the type of high-level achievements you’re looking to trumpet, and then back up with specific, numerical evidence showing how well you accomplished the task.

The best way to frame these achievements, of course, is to have had the conversation with your boss at the beginning of the year about what success looks like and what you need to do to earn a raise or promotion.  Having the conversation before the year begins, is the best way to know upfront what level of performance is required to earn rewards, raises, and promotions.  And it’s the easiest way to align your boss with your career ambitions. If you missed having that chat this year, no worries, but put it on your agenda for early 2020.

Know your value

With your accomplishments in hand, determine your worth in the market today.  It’s been an extraordinary economy for several years, and pay levels have been pushed up.

You can check Ladders’ Salary data, with anonymous data from millions of Ladders members, to see how your current compensation stacks up.

But even the best aggregation isn’t as effective as knowing comparable data points from your friends, contacts, peers and recruiters active in your industry and city.  What are similar positions in your field paying to people like you?

Meet with your boss

You’ll want to ask your boss for a raise in person.  Don’t ask for a raise by email, it’s less effective because it’s easier to not take seriously.

When asking for a  raise, you want to convey that you’re polite and realistic, but firm and committed to getting your appropriate worth out of your employment and your employer.

The most effective way to set a date for discussing pay with your boss, as in all things in business, is to ask her: “When is the best time for us to discuss compensation for 2020?  It’s important to me and I’d like to provide us both sufficient time and information to review.”

Follow up by asking what kind of information your boss would find most valuable for reviewing your performance over the last year, and then provide it well ahead of time.

The best way to reduce stress in asking for a raise is to spread out the timeline.  Asking for a raise is that it is one of the rare instances in negotiations where time is on your side.  

Separating each of the conversations into discrete one-on-one meetings with your boss makes them more effective rather than less — setting a date for the raise conversation, setting the agenda for the raise conversation, providing the data for the raise conversation, following up to see if there’s any more data required for the raise conversation, reminding your boss about the raise conversation…  Each of these steps prior to having the actual raise conversation itself reduces the stress and emotional response each of you will have by carving it up into smaller bits, while also increasing the pressure on your boss to respond productively to your well-presented, well-argued, thoughtful, and deliberate request.

Nobody likes being cornered, nobody likes being put on the spot.  So if you show that you’re serious, and you set a date a few weeks away, follow up with the requested information, and bring up a reminder the week before, you have set the table for a constructive conversation.

It’s worth mentioning that if there’s an annual review cycle, synchronize your request with that cycle.

Provide a business rationale

While of course, you’d like to get a raise to pay for a better house, or the kids’ college, or a fatter retirement fund, those are not the reasons a company gives a raise.  You’ll need to provide the business rationale for your new pay level.  

Using your list of accomplishments, framed into your three or four big themes, walk your boss through how you have contributed value this year, confirming that each of your triumphs was of value to the team and company.  Discuss your manager’s expectations for the next year and their perception of your ability to meet them. 

And then ask for your raise.  You can’t be, and shouldn’t be, shy or apologetic.  But you can be gracious – “Given everything I’ve helped the company achieve this year, and will next year, I’d like a raise to $_____.”

It’s best to add a little negotiating wriggle room on top, so you won’t be disappointed if they come back a few dollars below.  How much more will depend on your perception of your manager’s willingness and ability to negotiate.

But the most important thing is… you’ve gotta ask.

I hope that’s useful here in mid-November, Readers, and I’ll follow up in a few weeks with how to handle when the boss says no, negotiating your manager’s offer, and finding non-monetary ways of getting a raise.

Have a great week!