How to Ask for That Pay Rise

I got an email from the big boss at work yesterday. Immediately I assumed that I had done something wrong as he very, very rarely emails me. If he ever has to speak to me, he normally has to be reminded of my name and what I do. We aren’t close and don’t have a working relationship.

So it was with some trepidation that I opened the email and immediately I wished I hadn’t bothered. The first three words in the email were in bright red and said ‘Private and Confidential’. I’m pretty sure that those words are nearly always followed closely by ‘you can collect your things and leave promptly’.

However, this wasn’t a bad email to get. I read through it four or five times to make sure I was getting the gist of it and that what I thought he was saying was what he was actually meaning.

He put in three or four sentences which we solely about my job experience and the impact I had had on the company. It was him proving that he knew who I was. That he knew the effect of my work on his bottom line.

Then he asked for my opinion on three specific areas of the company. They were decisions above my pay-grade and areas that required a certain level of authority. He asked me what I would do in these situations and how I would be able to change the systems in place.

Now I could have given him a quick response and answered his questions, then returned to the quickly accumulating unread emails in my inbox. It would have been the easiest thing to do.

It wasn’t what I did, though. I guessed that he had asked me because I had some knowledge of the issues and he wanted me to solve it for him. Taking this as my queue, I did no more work that afternoon. Instead, I created a multi-staged plan to turn the chaos into an order and productive area.

When I emailed it back to him, I said that I have a solution and that I would be happy to run the project for him. The only issue was that I would need a pay-rise and a change in job title.

Well, it turns out that he sent out this email to everyone in our department, just changing the first three lines. Then everyone else just gave him generic responses to his problem.

I’d love to tell you that I got the promotion and the pay rise, but instead I got reminded that my annual pay review is the time to bring this up and not in an email.

So here’s my advice to you. Choose your time to ask the boss for a pay rise, not one when he is under an immense amount of pressure and does not know how to get out of it.

My timing might not have been the best, but at least he now knows my name.