I want to ask for a pay rise as I believe I’ve proved myself with additional hard work this year, and I’m about to start a new, more senior role.
But I’m worried about asking for a particular amount; partially because of the pandemic, and because I don’t know what people in similar roles in the business earn.
How do I ask for a pay rise without sounding like I’m ignoring the effects of the pandemic but also not selling myself short?
I asked Dr Mel Taylor, an Associate Professor of Organisational Psychology from Macquarie University, to give her expert thoughts on your predicament. She told me that this is a tricky situation that no doubt many people are wrestling with at the moment.
Before we go on, I should make it clear that human resources isn’t Dr Taylor’s field of expertise. Someone from that discipline might be able to offer a suggestion of exactly what you deserve – or can expect – in this situation (that’s obviously not the role of this column; to do that we’d need to publish way too much information and throw anonymity out the window). It sounds to me, however, that while you have a sum in mind, you’re not asking about whether your claim has merit – you know you’ve already demonstrated that – but how to approach a potentially difficult conversation.
Dr Taylor’s area of interest is interpersonal relationships and conflict, as well as occupational wellbeing and stress in the context of crises and emergencies, and her advice – I hope – will make this conversation easier for you.
“I think many people are concerned about job security and that makes it hard to have these conversations right now. Being competent isn’t enough; competent people are losing their jobs.
“So from the reader’s perspective here, being competent but possibly appearing ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘difficult’ or ‘demanding’ might feel like putting a target on their back when consideration for the next round of job losses comes around.”
If you come to the conversation and find that you’re really anxious about asking for more money, Dr Taylor says you’re not necessarily selling yourself short by putting off making a pay demand straight away.
“If [you are] concerned about how insensitive [you] may seem, then maybe requesting a meeting about the ‘terms and conditions’ of the new role could be an option.
“You could negotiate a review date for a pay rise or a condition for the pay rise, which would help to provide more certainty and validation. That will hopefully help [your] wellbeing and also send a positive signal to the employer that, together, you are sharing the current challenge. Being agreeable and cooperative at this time is not a bad strategy.”
None of this is to say you should forego what you deserve simply to be seen as a ‘good’ employee. You should simply be thinking about “the lay of the land”, as Dr Taylor puts it.
“Generally I would think that taking on a new, more senior position should come with a pay increase to acknowledge the increased responsibility and accountability or whatever the position entails.
“I think we can all see the potential problems of accepting the role at the same pay level and then trying to negotiate a pay increase later [without organising a review]. I would think that this could result in equity issues for the employer too down the track,” Dr Taylor says.
So go into your meeting (or meetings) cognisant that these are unusual circumstances and be responsive to your employer’s position. But there’s no need to be acquiescent if the offer seems unfair.
Source: Thanks smh.com