Asking for more money at the workplace is never easy. Money is a scarce resource and businesses are famously tightfisted with it. So, if you’re going to ask for a raise from your employer and get a positive result, you need to show up prepared.
How do you do that? Well, you’ll need to avoid common mistakes that can ruin your chances. We spoke to a few Nigerians working in the human resources (HR) department of a variety of businesses. Here are their tips on when to ask, who to ask and common mistakes to avoid when trying to get a raise.
When to ask for a raise
Imagine this: Dumebi has worked as a project manager for two years with the same publishing company and feels she deserves a raise. However, the company had a bad sales year, had major budget cuts and has let 40% of its staff go. If Dumebi asked for a raise right now, what are her chances of getting it?
Timing is important, says Timothy*, who has worked as a HR personnel for two years. Knowing when to ask for more money puts you in a better position to negotiate. The following are the best times to ask for a raise.
1. After exceeding your target
Going above and beyond for the business puts you in the best position to make demands and get management to listen.
2. After taking on increased job responsibilities
Asking for a raise after taking on more responsibility is only fair. If Dumebi had to take on more work because of the layoffs, then she is in a better position to ask for a raise.
3. After getting more qualifications
Taking courses, professional exams and special training that are relevant to your work can be grounds for asking for a raise. Knowledge isn’t cheap and good companies are likely to reward staff for acquiring extra qualifications. (This might be your sign to start taking those courses seriously.)
4. Transfer to another location
Getting transferred to a new location presents a good opportunity to ask for a raise. The cost of inconvenience is high.
Who to ask for a raise
Sometimes asking the wrong person for a raise might be the difference between getting what you want and getting ignored. The situation is different across companies, so it’s important that you understand your company’s structure and protocols.
Opeyemi*, a HR expert since 2014, says the following are the people you can speak to when asking for a raise.
This is for research purposes more than anything else. Older colleagues working the same role can give valuable advice on how to approach management.
2. Team Leads
During assessments, team leads can recommend standout performances for raises. They are the closest form of contact (with authority) and speaking to them can give you inside information on your chances of getting a raise.
Having a conversation with your manager can put things in perspective. They are in a better position to tell you if your requests can be met. Note that because their job is to save the organisation’s resources, you need to approach them with a strong case.
After speaking with your team leads and managers, you get an idea of your chance of success. Armed with this information, you can then set up a meeting with HR. Your chances are better if you’ve already had a conversation with HR about what growth looks like within the company — this is usually done during the recruitment phase. You can bring up that conversation if it suits your case.
How to ask for a raise
There are three things you need to do when asking for a raise. Listen carefully.
You need to come bearing receipts. If you’re going to highlight all the things that make you eligible for a raise, you need proof. Wande, a HR expert with an edutech company, says, “Write down all you’ve achieved but never forget to back it up with data and numbers.”
2. Highlight your potential value
Whatever case you want to hinge you raise request on, remember to call attention to the value you intend to add if given the raise. This emphasises your importance and how goal-driven you are.
3. Come up with a figure
Ochoule, who has worked as a HR professional for two years, says you shouldn’t just go to HR without knowing how much more you want. Having an expectation helps you negotiate. To come up with a figure, consider why you’re asking for the raise and then calculate the cost of the value you’re making. In some cases, you can research what others doing similar roles earn.
Common mistakes to avoid
These are three mistake that could tank your chances. Avoid them like the plague.
The quickest way to NOT get a raise is approaching the situation from a place of entitlement. If you feel you deserve a raise, show your bosses why. Give them solid reasons based on strong data.
2. Lack of confidence
Be firm and speak with confidence. Do not second-guess yourself; it shows and weakens your case.
3. Poor timing
Read the financial room. Don’t make requests when the company cannot afford it. Do your research.
If after doing everything that needs to be done and you still don’t get a raise, consider other benefits you can ask for in place of a raise, like longer vacation days, an upgraded healthcare plan or a bigger bonus. Good luck.