Ask for a raise, if you deserve it

If asking your CIO for a raise isn’t as easy as it seems, there may be a good reason.

Barbara Shantz, vice-president of Vancouver-based HR Solutions Ltd., said individuals often know they want a raise without being able to say why they deserve one. And, she added, “you shouldn’t expect to get rewarded for just doing your job.”

What you should expect is to devote some time to personal evaluation. For this, Shantz offers the following advice.

Start from square one. A good starting point for employees is to sit down with an employer and look at the metrics that surround the standard of performance and expected goals of a particular position.

In other words, “know your job,” Shantz said. “Communication is critical…if you thought it was your job to do A, B, and C and suddenly your boss throws in D” you need to talk about it.

“You need to know what the expected standard of performance is. Then you look at how your behaviour or actions meet that standard.”

Unfortunately, Shantz said, this can lead to disagreement when an individual feels the objectives set by an employer are unrealistic. Often a boss will ask an employee to reach for a “stretch goal,” she said, which is something beyond what the employee can achieve.

“It’s very difficult for employees when managers deliberately set goals like that when there is no way you can meet them,” Shantz said. If someone feels strongly that a goal can’t be met, they should articulate their problem in a performance evaluation. While it may not solve the problem, it does put it on record, she explained.

If, however, the goals set out by an employer are attainable then it’s time to take note of whether those goals are being met.

Be prepared. Once you understand the current expectations of your job, be prepared with specific examples of how you exceed job expectations, Shantz advises.

“List your accomplishments and how you’ve exceeded expectations,” she said, adding that just meeting expectations is not enough. If an individual feels that he or she has exceeded the requirements of the job, that is probably the time to ask for the raise.

“That’s the time you should seek an opportunity to go to the manager…but do your homework and be prepared. Go in with concrete examples of things that you have accomplished or achieved that are over and above what was expected for your job.”

Know when. According to Shantz, a scheduled annual review is the proper time to ask for a raise. That said, “if there is a standardized policy in place where salaries are reviewed annually, I think people are often reluctant to go in any other time,” she stated.

And while a review may be the proper time, it is not always the best, she said. “If you’ve been asked to take on additional responsibilities and you’ve done it really well, that’s the time to ask for a raise because you have concrete evidence of something in addition to what you were hired to do,” Shantz explained. When an individual can show that he or she has added something to the company that wasn’t there before, the odds for success become greater.

This includes personal behaviour. Ken Chapman, director of information services for the Calgary Laboratory Services, said an employee’s technical skills are paramount, but are not the only factor considered by a manager.

“I also balance that with soft skills abilities,” Chapman said. “In other words, hard technical skills are not adequate for me. I need to see the person being able to listen, communicate, be service-oriented and diplomatic.”

That said, Chapman admits that raises in the IT sector are often driven by pure supply and demand. “The compelling argument that convinces most CIOs has to do with the lack of availability of comparable technical skills in the marketplace.”

When an employee asks for a raise, Chapman said, “that’s what drives me. If I had to replace them, what would it cost me?”

Know when to say when. If an employee fails to get a raise even after the preparation, the request and the proof that he or she surpasses the requirements of the job, Shantz said “that’s when you start to ask questions like, ‘What would I need to do in order to merit a raise?'”

Sometimes the issue lies beyond the employee’s control when, for example, a manager says the company just can’t afford additional expenditures.

According to Shantz, “at that point you need to assess where you’re at. Are you prepared to keep working for a company that can’t even tell you when you might get a raise?”