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Q : I recently found out how much my boss and other co-workers make and it’s left me feeling like I should ask for a raise!

A : When it comes to compensation I always start by writing down the facts – both from my personal perspective & then from an industry research standpoint. So in this scenario, I would begin by using the following writing starters:
  • When you accepted the position were you happy with the compensation or were you hoping for more?
  • During the job offer process were you given clear dates/times you would be eligible for a raise & what the average raise percentages your company gives?

(If you answer NO to this – this is the perfect way to spearhead a conversation with your boss. You can pre-lude the conversation by saying you’d like to create a consistent timeline when your performance can be evaluated & together you can set goals/objectives for the following year)

  • Prior to learning the salaries of your boss & co-workers – were you happy with the compensation you were making, did you feel it aligned with your current responsibilities?
  • Have you been learning & growing during your time with the company?
  • Are you able to have honest & transparent conversations with your boss when it comes to your performance, compensation and continuing development?

Once you take the time to answer the above questions, you will have a much clearer sense about how you FEEL about your role at your current company. Many times when compensation comes into the mix – especially if you find out your co-workers are making much more than you, emotions can run high and it’s easy to fall into resentment & overwhelm which can begin to taint how you feel about your company & your contributions to it. By taking a step back to get the lay of the land, you begin to arm yourself with the truth.

Once you’ve answered the above questions, it’s time to do some information gathering:

  • Look up salary averages for your role in your city for the specific industry you are in at companies similar in size to yours (*Pro Tip – use the salary averages for the city your company is headquartered in if you have a remote position). Sites like Glassdoor are perfect for this.
  • Find out the previous year revenue at your specific company (this paints a picture of the overall health of your company)
  • Go back & review the notes you took from your last performance conversation with your boss – have you taken on new responsibilities? Have you went above & beyond in your execution?
  • Do a quick job search for the same role as yours at different companies in your area. Read the job descriptions, do they line up with your responsibilities? Are there offering higher salaries (can you see this by the # of years of experience they are asking for the role)

Finally, before you set- up time to speak with your boss ask yourself one final question — do you want to continue working with your company? The answer may be yes in the interim, but long-term do you see yourself happy there? This will guide you in how hard you want to push once you set up time to speak with your boss. Get honest with yourself and where you see your career taking you. If you do see yourself remaining with your company – create a timeline of how you see yourself growing both in compensation, new responsibilities & in title changes.

After you do all of the above preliminary work, you’re ready to set-up time with your boss. Based on your responses to the questions above, you’ll know if you’re heading into the conversation from a development standpoint “Hi [Insert Boss] I’d like to set some time aside on our calendars to discuss my development plan with the company. I’ve created a potential growth outline that I’d like to review with you.”

OR if it’s from a performance standpoint “Hi [Insert Boss] – I noticed that we didn’t set up time to create my performance planning for the year. As someone who takes their professional development very seriously, I’d like to set-up time to discuss with you. I also want to be sure that together, we are aligned on my specific goals/objectives in my role this year that will create the most impact for our company.”

OR if it’s strictly from a compensation standpoint “Hi [Insert Boss], over the past [Insert timeline – 6 months, etc] I’ve taken on a variety of new roles and responsibilities. While I’ve loved expanding my skillset, I also want to be sure that these stretch assignments are reflected in my compensation if they are going to remain part of my regular responsibilities. Can we put time on the calendar to discuss.”

Once you know which direction your coming into the conversation with, you know how to set up the meeting. Once in the meeting, present the facts. Highlight your added responsibilities and how that’s added value to the business (if possible include as many metrics as possible – for example: “By taking over the ad sponsorship program – I’ve sold 3x more ads than last year, creating $$ revenue for our business.”). Also make sure to discuss your eagerness to continue learning & growing with the company (if that’s something you really want to do.)

THE most important thing to remember is NOT to go into the conversation with “I found out my co-workers are making more than me and that’s not fair – I want a raise.” While yes, it isn’t fair or right – having that lead the conversation only comes off whiny and unprofessional. Lead with the facts and you’ll show up as the best version of yourself.

At the end of the day, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to negotiate a compensation boost- however if you don’t try you know that the answer is definitely a NO. Having the conversation is the most important part because no matter the outcome at least you will know that you value yourself and are able to be an advocate for the work you do.

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