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What Your Manager Fears Most When You Ask for a Raise

If you are being underpaid compared to others doing similar work or you could get a higher salary elsewhere, you have a valid argument for requesting an increase.
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If you're waiting for your boss to tell you "good job" and offer you a much-deserved raise, chances are it isn't going to happen. The truth is, as a manager, it can be stressful when an employee asks for a raise, especially if there is no company policy. And most employees are hesitant to discuss compensation. So, unless you are fortunate enough to work in a company that has a formal process for managing compensation, you may have no idea when your next salary increase is coming or how to ask for a raise.

In many organizations, the only way to get a raise is to ask for one. Understanding your managers' perspective and what they fear most will help you make a strong argument for why you should get a raise.

Managers' 3 greatest fears when discussing compensation are:

Fear #1: Am I going to lose this person?
If your manager doesn't care about you leaving, then your chances of getting a raise are slim.

How You Can Address this Fear
High performance is the best leverage for getting what you want. Be ready to discuss the achievements and successful projects that you have completed over the last 12 months. If your responsibilities have increased, you have become that much more valuable and your employer isn't going to want to lose you.

Fear #2: Do I have enough money in my budget for a raise?
Even with an improving economy, many organizations have very tight compensation budgets. Most managers are held accountable for staying within their department's budget, and if compensation dollars have already been allocated, there just may not be resources available for your raise.

How You Can Address this Fear

Figure out when budgets are determined and talk to your manager about your raise so that he/she has time to put it in the budget. On average, salaries increases have ranged between 3-4 percent over the past several years. When requesting a raise, keep in mind what is reasonable and in line with labor market trends.

Fear #3: If I give one person a raise, will it create an impression that all employees are underpaid?
Your manager may genuinely fear that if they say yes to your raise request, others will ask for a raise. The reality is that while you can certainly appreciate your managers' position, your primary concern should be getting market value for your job. If you are being underpaid compared to others doing similar work or you could get a higher salary elsewhere, you have a valid argument for requesting an increase.

How You Can Address this Fear
This is where researching compensation trends and gathering market data is extremely valuable. Asking for a raise based on the market value for your job shifts the conversation from internal roadblocks to fair market value. You may actually have a positive impact on others by asking for your fair market value.

For more information about resources for gathering market data, check out my previous blog post.

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