Posted by Brian McCullough
Counter-intuitive time, people!
I am the sort of guy that tends to believe you should never be afraid to ask for a raise. (The proviso of course being that you shouldn’t ask too much or too often or expect things that are outlandish.)
But even when times are tough for your company? That’s when a raise should be the last thing on your mind, right?
No, and here’s why:
1) Asking for a raise can be a good way to tell you where you stand.
If times are tough, and my most valued employee comes to me and says they’re unhappy with their situation, this is a double crisis for me as a manager. After all, if times are tough, the last person I want to piss off or lose is the most valued member of my team… my number one producer.
As a manager, I need my best employees to be happy and productive because they are the work-horses I’m depending on to turn these bad times around. If I lose them, the bad times will only get worse.
So if you ask for a raise and the boss bends over backwards to try to placate you, then not only is your job safe, you know your boss is depending on you. You’re a key part of their survival strategy.
On the other hand, if they laugh in your face or say something like, you’re lucky to even have the salary you currently have, then you know where you stand also: not on solid ground. But hey, that’s information too. You can begin to assess your options.
2) Even if they can’t give you a raise, they might find other ways to keep you happy.
After all, even if your boss can’t get you a raise right now, you’ve made them aware that you’re a bit unhappy or at least a bit hungry. They might start to think of other ways to reward you. They might even start to think of other forms of non-monetary compensation.
Maybe they’ll be more lenient when you ask for some extra time off. Maybe they’ll keep an eye out for an opening on that project or new position you’ve wanted. You might even find yourself singled out for extra or individual praise, raising your profile in the office.
This is my most important point about asking for a raise even if you know the boss will say no: you’ve put them on notice. If they really like you and value you, you’ve made them aware that they need to take steps to keep you happy. Even if more money is not forthcoming, you have at least put yourself on their radar to pay better attention to your needs. Making the boss aware of your feelings might pay dividends down the road in ways you can’t anticipate but are just as valuable as a raise.
3) You never know, they might say yes.
If they say no, and there are no hard feelings for having asked, then you’re out nothing.
But they might say yes. And any time you wasted being afraid to ask was just the lost opportunity to make more money sooner.
Again, put yourself in the position I described in point number 1. You’re the superstar. The best producer. If the company is going to ride out these hard times, they’re going to do so riding on your back and your productivity.
If you find yourself in that situation, then you really are more valuable to your employer. And maybe you should be compensated for that.