Don’t Let Anxiety Hold You Back from Asking for a Raise

By ColumnsFOXBusiness

Asking for a raise can make even the most veteran and worthy employee’s hands sweat. But it’s a necessary process for advancing a career and getting compensated fairly.

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When it comes to discussing salary and pay raises, it’s all about having the right mindset. In the U.S. we don’t have the same bargaining mentality as workers in other countries. Generally speaking, we are a price-controlled society—we have been conditioned to accept that the price offered is the price you pay, no questions asked. Unfortunately, this mentality has carried over to salary negotiations.

Consider some recent finding from a LinkedIn survey of 2,000 professionals from around the world:

  1. 39% of American professionals are anxious about negotiating;
  2. 26% of women feel comfortable negotiating compared to 40% for men;
  3. Of the eight countries surveyed by LinkedIn, professionals in the U.S. were the most anxious about negotiating.  

Negotiating a salary is really about having a conversation and doesn’t need to be contentious or adversarial. Managers are often just as anxious about these conversations as their employees. Negotiating is a part of business, and the squeaky wheel does in fact get the grease.

When mulling over whether to have that dreaded salary conversation, consider the following:

Get Over It. Asking for money can feel a bit self-serving, especially given the current economic circumstances. However, most major companies have money and value good employees. The cost to recruit and on-board a new hire is far greater than the cost of keeping a high-potential employee happy.

Nobody cares more about you than you, so don’t be afraid to step up and ask for what you deserve. This isn’t personal, it’s about business. Negotiating is an integral part of business and most managers understand this.

Know Your Value. You are going to have to be a little self-aggrandizing to secure a pay increase. Before approaching the topic, be sure to assess your value and use sites like to determine the average salary in your industry. Professional associations typically conduct salary surveys on a regular basis.

After you have salary information, you need to assess your value-add to the organization. The most powerful way to make an argument for a salary increase is to speak in terms of dollars. Break down your value-add in terms of revenue generation, cost savings, loss prevention or return on investment. Even if your impact on these areas is indirect, do your best to demonstrate your connection to them--it’s all about making the case.

Time-it Right. Just like most of us, managers tend to have short memories and will often take a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” view of your value. Take advantage of this and coordinate your request after the completion of a major project or a recent high-profile win.

It’s important to understand your company’s compensation policies and process of your company so you don’t make outlandish requests or have unreasonable expectations. Often salary increases are tied to annual performance reviews or fiscal calendars--take these factors into account when deciding on the timing of your request.

Know Your End-game. Before stepping into your manager’s office, you have to know your bottom line and strategy.

Any good salesperson walks in to a negotiation knowing what they want to walk-out with. You should have a defined salary range in mind along with other negotiating chips like vacation time, flex time, health benefits, child care and expense accounts. Be sure to shoot high and have a minimum goal in mind that combines all aspects of your compensation package.

And remember, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook