There are only two ways, or at least two best ways, to approach asking for a pay rise in the private sector, and one in the public sector. They are below. I’ve employed 100s of people, & have seen many great & many awful pitches for a pay rise. I can’t help but feel how I feel as it happens, & this is useful feedback to know if I want to increase a salary or not.

Money is always on the table for great talent, but first, some sure ways not to ask for a pay rise, are:

1.  Tell your employer that you can’t cover your bills & you don’t have enough to live on, or pay your house & car. They don’t care about that, & will only see that you can’t manage your money. They can also feel emotionally blackmailed, which has a high chance of backfiring on you.

2. Tell them you have another job, or are thinking of leaving, & using this as leverage. This is advised by some ‘consultants’, but I’ve never felt good about this, even though sometimes I may have fought to keep an employee doing this. It goes very bad very quickly if a staff member plays off the new employer versus the existing one. As soon as I am used as a pawn to get a pay rise because the new employer is offering more, I’m out.

3. Ask for a pay rise because you heard that a colleague got a pay rise. Never works, at least not for me. It’s none of anyone else’s business what others are paid. Why would anyone increase someone’s salary just because they increased their colleagues salary? That’s not sound logic or financial smarts. This also erodes the trust of discretion. An employer’s big fear is that when one person asks for a raise, everyone does. It can stop them from raising salaries of people who deserve it. So always be discreet & never use this as leverage to get a (temporary) raise.

So here are the two ways I believe you are most likely to get a raise & maintain & build goodwill with your employer, if you are in the private sector:

1. Book a meeting (monthly review, salary review, one to one) & show grace, gratitude & calm emotions to your employer. Big up the company & your relationship, then point out in clear, specific detail, what extra revenue, cost savings, systems & time savings you have brought to the company. Measure it against what it would have been, without your role or input. Have it printed out/evidenced. Show the gross & the net. Then politely request your raise. Request it as 10% or less of additional profit you have brought to the company.
2. Book a meeting (monthly review, salary review, one to one) & propose some actions you will head up or undertake that will increase future turnover & net profit, & then request up to 10% of the net profit as a bonus or salary raise. “If I could bring in £20,000 net profit in the next 6 months, would you pay me just a £2,000 bonus”?

If you are in a role that doesn’t appear on the surface to be revenue generating, like admin, consider the following:
i. Where have you saved money that you can measure
ii. Where have you saved time, in hours, that can be measured, and then put an hourly monetary value on it
iii. What systems & processes can you/have you set up that save time & money

You could even do both 1. & 2. in the meeting, or 1. in one meeting, and 2. in a meeting in two to three months time.

If you are in the public sector, your boss or employer may not have the autonomy to make the instant decisions. This may be harder. My experience is not in the public sector, but Brian Tracy told me this in 2007 & I think it is your best chance of getting a significant pay rise in the public sector:
“Seek out the job or role that pays the salary you desire, then learn everything about that role & offer the value to the company. Do the job that pays the salary you want”. This can take time, but remember that you chose to be in the job you are in. If you feel like you will get nowhere, consider moving into the private sector.

You only ever get a raise when you show one thing: value. You must show value first. Most employees want payment first, then they might offer the value. The world doesn’t not work this way. Your employer wants & needs to make profit. Your employer wants happy clients, referrals, productive & loyal staff. Show these, give value first, & you will get your raise.

If you do all this & don’t get your raise, another employer will snap you up, & you know you are working for the wrong company. That is on you to decide, but also ensure you have given your existing employer enough chances to help you develop, because a change could be as bad as it could good.

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