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5 reasons you should initiate that awkward 'It's time for a salary hike' conversation with your boss

Updated on November 18, 2015

Cringing yet cannot speak up? Here is why you should.

We all have those days where we are a nervous wreck because we cannot figure out how to bring up the subject of an increment with the boss. Most of it is insecurity and fear and all in the head. You see your colleagues and other people around you getting a raise and you feel like you should be getting some reward for your hard work too. But what if it all goes to hell? What if your boss thinks you care only about the money? What if he labels you as whiny?

These thoughts will come and they will make you think maybe now is not the right time to talk about it. But here are 5 reasons you actually should have that awkward conversation out of the way.

1. Your boss will respect you for taking a stand

All your initial fears and awkwardness might actually be pointless as your boss might end up respecting you more for taking a stand and being very respectful about it. Do not make it a 'my way or the high-way' situation that you will have to crawl out of. But there is nothing wrong with a polite casual informal conversation where you talk about how you have been working very hard and how it has helped your company achieve new heights. Let you boss know your motivation will reach new heights too with a salary hike and you will feel valued and appreciated.

2. It is time for a return on investment

You have invested a good amount of time and money on the skills, on your degree that enables you to do your job the way you do it. It is completely fair to expect a salary hire as a return on all that investment. College education is not cheap and forms a big chunk of the loans that people normally have. In fact, these days it is not possible to have a college degree without a student loan. All that hard work and late nights should start paying off.

3. Your boss is probably in the same situation as you

You never know. May be your boss is fighting the same demons in his head with his boss. That makes him uniquely qualified to argue your case to the management and get you a raise. He understands what drives employees to outperform and outshine. He wants good people on his team so that his work is highly reflected upon. Having that awkward conversation with him might actually end up bringing you close to your boss (emotionally).

4. It will open closed channels of communication

One good reason why you need to have that awkward conversation is because it will open up communication floodgates like never before. Do not think of it as an opportunity to cry and whine but to ask for honest feedback about your work. If you think the boss is leaning towards a 'No' try to understand why. Are there are quantifiable metrics that can help you improve your performance? Can your boss help you in coming up with some goals to benchmark your performance? Even if there is no salary hike, the conversation will definitely help you set your expectations from your company.

5. You might actually get that raise!!

You won't get it unless you ask for it. Your employer is not running a charity. He would probably think you don't need it unless you bring it to his attention that you need and deserve it. Once you are past that conversation, your boss in retrospect will actually consider giving you a raise in order to avoid loosing a talented and hardworking employee. Not to mention, he also would like to avoid the additional cost of hiring and training a new person if he has to let you go. As a conclusion, he might actually give you a raise. Now isn't that just perfect!

Here is how you plan that awkward conversation

1. Schedule an appointment. Do not jump at him from nowhere. Give him the space to think about it beforehand just like you have had the chance to mull over it. If you walk up to him at an office social and ask for a raise, you are most likely to be declined. Put something on his calendar or just say that you would like to speak to him tomorrow about a possible salary raise. Be clear about the objective of the appointment but be respectful of the other person by giving them an opportunity to prep for this conversation.

2. Make sure your boss and you both are free and there is no project deadline breathing down your neck. Not only will it end up annoying the boss, it will make you look like you are trying to blackmail him just before a deliverable is due. The best time to talk about it is before you are about to kickstart a new project but have recently closed the deal on an old one. It will give you a better opportunity to talk about your recent achievements which the boss will have to accept and recall because these would be recent events.

3. Take some time before the 'actual conversation' to jot down your recent achievements. Do not be vague. Be as specific as you can about highlighting them and how your contributions have affected the performance. "I have seamlessly made efforts to improve the operations process and I am happy to share with you that the input wastage has been reduced by 3% because of my recommendations." Remember, it is important for you to not skip this step because it reiterates why you deserve this raise and tells your boss you are ambitious but at the same time you self-evaluate yourself constantly.

4. Ask for honest feedback and take it like a man (or like a woman, because women too are hardcore). Remember this is an opportunity to open closed channels of communication. If you feel the conversation is not going your way, try to listen too. Maybe there is a side to this that you don't know. Maybe the boss had different expectations from you. It is a good chance to get open and honest feedback. Pry into how you can improve. Try not to come off as a person who is holding a grudge because he has not been given a raise but instead someone who is willing to take criticism if it is constructive.

5. Lastly, if the boss declines your request, do not make it awkward for him and do not take it personally. More importantly, do not threaten to leave the job, (even if you secretly are looking elsewhere) There is nothing worse than an employee who was asked to leave because of his tantrums. Instead, turn the tables. Request your boss to give you an outline of your measurable goals and objectives and insist on more frequent reviews to discuss your performance. Try to eliminate all the reasons he just gave you for not giving you a raise.


At the end of the day, none of this should disturb your confidence and your mental stability that you exude at work. The point is to achieve stability not disrupt it. Come off as cool, confident, humble, smart and yet ambitious and understanding. Do not let any of it affect your work as long as you are with your organization. Once your boss sees how level-headed you are, he won't have any excuse for not giving you that raise.


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