How to Ask For a Promotion

One of my best friends recently discovered that her coworkers are making nearly $15,000 a year more than her for similar work. While she is younger and has somewhat less experience, it made her mad and convinced her that she needed to talk to her manager about a raise the next day. She stewed over the conversation for most of the night before and angrily marched into his office the next day to confront him. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the raise and, in fact, ended up looking bad when her manager reacted negatively to her aggressive approach.

There are, of course, right and wrong ways to tackle what may be one of the most difficult conversations you have in your career. The gender pay gap is real in many companies, and there are times where you should ask for increased responsibilities or more pay. Like anything, though, careful preparation and planning can go a long way to getting what you want!

Because you are a #GoalGirl, we know you are focused on being the best you that you can be. But before you ask for that raise or promotion you better make sure that your boss shares your viewpoint. You are in the best position to ask for more when your manager sees how valuable you are and how much you are helping your team succeed. Are you putting your best foot forward each day? It may sound trite, but are you showing up early and staying late and making sure that everything you deliver is at an A level and not just “acceptable.”

Are you taking on work above your pay grade?

Managers hate employees who think “that’s not my job” and those that move up generally do so after demonstrating that they can do not only their job, but begin to take on responsibilities of the next level. Are you demonstrating leadership and developing relationships with your teammates? If you consistently find yourself in the middle of coworkers who can only complain about the problem, you are probably viewed just like you view them. It happens to the best of us, sometimes, when you get bored and begin to fill the time with gossip and negative talk. When you find yourself in that situation, set those bad habits aside and find ways to work with your boss to help them see the problem AND suggest solutions that keep the whole team moving forward.

Before you ask for more money and that new promotion, make sure your manager would agree. Suggest a one-on-one meeting where you tell them you are looking for advice on your performance. Hopefully, the news is good and you are in a good spot. But if you hear any negatives or development needs, you must take them seriously… even if you disagree. Ask for specifics not to put them on the spot, but to better understand what you need to do to get better. Then find a project where you can focus on improvement and make sure to ask for feedback after you demonstrate your new skills.

Of course, at some point, you’ll have to bite the bullet and make the ask itself. Here are some quick tips to help you get what you deserve:

1)     Schedule a Specific Meeting.  Don’t leave this to chance or a hallway conversation. Tell your boss in advance that you want to talk with them and the reason for the meeting. Make sure the meeting happens in a quiet and confidential space. Timing counts, so don’t ask for a meeting when your manager is buried, just back from vacation, or just got beaten up for the project that went over budget.

2)     Prepare for the Meeting. If you had a key meeting with a new client, you’d spend time preparing to highlight your strengths and counter any concerns. Treat this meeting with the same seriousness. This is not the time to make it up on the fly. Do your homework to understand market rates for your job (Salary.com is a great research tool). Make your case for where you add value to the organization, what do you bring to the table that warrants a raise or promotion?

3)     Be Respectful. While you may be upset, this is the time to be considerate. Express your appreciation for their time, thank them for the opportunities that you’ve been given, and explain how you’ve tried to consistently achieve your team’s goals. Explain that you want to discuss your current compensation and share your market research.

4)     Be Respectful (Part 2). Never, never, never talk about what others are making. Even if you know, don’t try to use that knowledge as a bargaining chip. And never threaten to go somewhere else to make more money. Want to know what’s harder than this conversation?  Your boss telling you, “then maybe you should go there.”

5)     Be Respectful (Part 3). So you got through the hard part? The next step may be harder… Ask them to consider your request and give them time to do it. Not forever, but say you’d like to give them time and ask when they think they can provide a response.  Managers don’t always have final decision authority and they may have to work with their boss or HR to get approval.

6)     Be Prepared to Hear No. Sometimes you won’t get the raise you want. You have to be prepared that this is a real possibility. If the answer is no, then you use that to move forward positively. Use this as an opportunity to get additional feedback or even to better understand that maybe the job or salary you want doesn’t exist with your current employer.

Whatever the outcome, this process is something to be proud of. You’ve improved your skills, you’ve gotten feedback and you’ve made yourself better in the process. You #GoalGirl!