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Don’t panic! Here’s what to do if you don’t get the pay rise you want
You’ve had a relaxing weekend, or in my case walked further than intended around the Blue Mountains, but it’s now time to return to reality and head back to work. As difficult as this already is, the thought of having to go through the grueling process of appraisals in the middle of each year is the cherry on top of the cake.
There are people out there who love the performance review period, I unfortunately am not one of those people! Firstly, considering I have a driver communication style, I am not very good at the self-promotion aspect of performance reviews…as hard as it is to believe.
Secondly, the dreaded ‘Will I be getting a pay rise?’ question – now I’m not good at handling rejection, so when this does happen and I know I deserve a pay rise I tend to get very quiet, do a lot of nodding and be silently mad, whilst burning an imaginary laser beam at my manager for the remainder of the performance review.
Luckily, I have since learned how to handle the ‘You will not be getting a pay rise’ scenario. Below are some tips that have worked for me throughout my career; the best approach is always a calm and reasoned one to show your manager that you really are worth the pay rise.
Examine your expectations
Taking a step back and reviewing the contribution you have made over the year is key. You have to be honest and ask yourself ‘Do I deserve a pay rise?’
Have you met and exceeded all your goals and expectations? If so, then it’s understandable that you are disappointed. Are you a nine-to-fiver who does the bare minimum? – then a ‘no’ shouldn’t be unexpected.
Build your case
If you still feel like your workplace efforts are not aligned with your salary, don’t fly into a rage. The most productive thing you can do is sit down with your manager and list all of the reasons why you deserve a pay rise. What works well for me is compiling the list prior to the meeting, that way I am sure to include absolutely everything. This works quite well if you are not one for self-promotion too, as you can email the list to your manager to review prior to the meeting.
Be sure to note any targets you’ve smashed or additional business and revenue you’ve brought into the business. Your manager is more likely to respond to quantifiable contributions than emotional outpourings.
‘Be your biggest advocate’ – this is one of the best pieces of advice I have been given in my career. Before I took on this advice, I was very much the type of person who would go with the motto ‘If I have done an outstanding job it should be recognised, without me having to prove as to why I deserve a pay rise’. I can tell you now, this will get you nowhere! Your manager will not always know what projects you are working across, especially when you have a very hands-off manager. This is why it’s important to list all the great work you have done prior to the review period.
Your pleas were rejected, what next?
You’ve presented your case, exercised your best negotiation skills and still been denied a pay rise. It’s natural to feel rejected and angry, as most people think a ‘no’ means you’re not good enough. This is the prime time where you run the risk of becoming disinterested at work, bitter and detached.
My advice here is ‘just don’t do it’; avoid screaming matches with your manager, swinging the meeting room door so hard that it falls of the hinges and gossiping to the wider team. It’s important not to feel so dejected that it impacts the quality of your work and hinders your chances of a pay rise in the future. The way you conduct yourself in a challenging professional situation will have a major impact on your reputation, often for the long-term.
A proactive response
It’s important to follow up and find out why you didn’t get a pay rise. Don’t make assumptions, have a sit down with your manager to talk through it. It could be that there genuinely isn’t enough budget due to economic events or business performance – I’m sure we have all heard this excuse in the past and as much as it sucks at least you will know it’s not your performance that’s the issue.
But then again, it could be you and not them; maybe you’re not meeting your goals and KPIs. Either way, getting the feedback from the horse’s mouth will allow you to work on improving and showing progress for your next performance review. Understanding why the decision was made will ultimately help you get what you want faster.
It’s also worth getting advice and a different perspective from an outside party who may have at some point been in the same position – let’s be real, this has probably happened to everyone at some stage in their working career. This will also help encourage and inspire you to stay focused and positive. Due to work policies on discussing salary information this usually rules out work colleagues and family/friends tend to be bias; I would recommend finding a mentor.
Focus on the future
Now you should be at the stage where you are formulating a plan to ensure you get the raise you are after in your next performance review. Work closely with your manager to focus on the key priorities and goals. I know it’s tough, but welcome criticism and use it to develop and work towards getting that pay rise.
You could also explore alternatives that will benefit you in other ways. Suggest attending training that will add value to the business as well as your skill set. Speak to your manager about career development opportunities within the organisation and the chance to get involved in a broader range of projects that will expand your experience.
Moving on: your approach
Before you go down this route, ensure this isn’t a reaction out of rage – I cannot count the number of times in my career that I have threatened to leave my job to my family, colleagues, even manager. This won’t work in your favour, especially if you don’t actually want to leave, so stay calm and think it through before making a rational decision.
There are instances where you may work for a company that doesn’t value its employees or you have a bad manager; if you have explored other options and still feel like your achievements have gone unappreciated for too long, then perhaps it’s actually time to move on.
When you resign, don’t focus on the fact that money is driving you away as this most likely won’t leave the best lasting impression on your ex-employer. Instead focus on the positive and show your appreciation as you should never burn bridges on your way out.
The way you handle yourself in a frustrating salary situation at work can affect your professional reputation for years to come. Conduct yourself with decorum, move forward on a positive note and you are far more likely to succeed in achieving your career and financial goals.
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