In my previous post I described how to make an additional $10,000 in 2017. For freelancers, the combination of “charge more” and “work more” is pretty easy. For employees and contractors, however, it might be a bit trickier since most people have a hard time asking for money – or at least asking for it in the right way.
So how about getting a raise without asking for one?
This was one of my favorite (and, regretfully, most secret) techniques from my days as an employee and contractor.
Instead of asking, “May I have more money, please?” or (even more cringeworthy) stating “I think I’m worth x”, the correct question is “What do I need to do to be worth x?”.
There are several important aspects of that question. The first is that it comes ahead of the increase. You’re asking your manager to help you align with the organization in such a way that you’ll be worth x. This should be a manager’s dream – you’re making it easy to manage you, and in a proactive way.
Next, notice that x can be whatever you like. I once got a 50% raise with this technique and my manager was happy to give it to me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a handout – I had to develop solutions to a couple of very difficult problems to be worth it, but that’s where the beauty lies. By posing the question this way, and up front, you quickly enter a space of discovering and defining value that’s starts with mutual agreement and completely bypasses the need to negotiate.
Another important aspect to this question is that you may get the response, “We’ll never be able to pay you that”. The manager I had at my very first salaried job had to deliver that message. To her credit, she delivered it proactively (I was WAY too immature to ask for a raise well – she simply got in front of the issue before it ever came up) by telling me, “This organization will never need all that you can do. Get as good as you can before you leave, because we’ll never be able to pay you what you’re worth simply because we can’t consume what you do.” That response, while somewhat disappointing, is incredibly valuable information. An appropriate reply (and FAR more appropriate than my reply) is “Then what is the maximum I can be worth here and how do I get there?” It’s also a sign that it’s probably time to start looking elsewhere.
Lastly, there’s an even better technique than what I’ve described. It’s actually more of a super-charged version, which is why I presented the other one first. That technique is to bring suggestions for value along with your ask. That’s what I did for the 50% pop mentioned before. I took the “what can I do to be worth x” and turned it into “would it be worth x if I solve y and z?” You see, at that point you’re doing part of your manager’s job for them and that’s incredibly valuable.
The final point I’d like to make is that you have to deliver. It’s not enough to ask where the value is, you are committing to deliver on it. Don’t go asking how to get to x and then reply with, “Yeah, I don’t want to do that”. Only ask if you’re looking to grow and looking to stretch yourself.
So, look around and identify some of the opportunities which almost certainly surround you. Talk to your manager in your 1-on-1 to set a goal. Make a plan, check in during your 1-on-1s and quarterly reviews – the next thing you know you’ll be making what you want.
No 1-on-1s or quarterly review? Oy, well we’ll discuss managing your manager next time.
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