Achieving the “impossible”: How to get a raise in a down market

This year you have worked hard and paid your dues, in really tough circumstances. So should you be asking for a raise in a down market? That depends, but not on what you may think…


This year you have worked hard and paid your dues, in really tough circumstances. So should you be asking for a raise in a down market? That depends, but not on what you may think…


The market itself has nothing to do with whether or not you are worthy of a raise. The “Economic No” is simply the answer they give to the 75 percent of the employees who are undeserving for other reasons – mostly the behavior they exhibit in challenging times. Your value as an employee is not dependent upon the economic conditions of the time; it is dependent upon the value you bring to the organization, the market value of your services and the return on investment that you deliver both economically and emotionally. All of these factors are within your control, not the economy’s.

When companies are deciding how to use compensation dollars and which requests they should fulfill, they look at the following things:

· Your current performance – are they getting their money’s worth for what they are paying you today? If you are just an average performer or have a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, probably not.
· Your value as a resource on the open market, which includes the current demand for you in your current locale, which is based upon data they collect and update in salary surveys, not your own assessment.
· Your potential for future returns for the company – which is your capability to grow and develop, to play a multitude of positions, to succeed the leaders, and willingness to share information and develop others.
· Your flight risk – how likely it is that they would lose you and how much that would hurt the organization.
· Your emotional expense to the organization. How do you react to change, do you editorialize on decisions made, do you waste time and energy complaining, do they need to constantly manage your engagement, your buy-in?

The bottom line: If you are a resilient, personally accountable employee who freely give their talent to all and is willing to support the organizational direction without drama, you are a great deal. When asking for a raise, build your case based on the company’s thinking, not yours.

So when thinking about asking for a raise, remember:

· Do not ask for more money to ease your pains during tough economic times and do not base your argument on increased living expenses. Today, companies pay for return on investment for the value proposition you present to the organization’s income statement and bottom line.
· When thinking of a raise, remember, it is not about the money. By the time you are asking for money, your value statement is on the table from your past contributions and their prediction of your future contributions are known.
· If the organization is truly in trouble and dollars are non-existent, suggest some things of value to you that are of little cost to the organization such as more flexibility in your work schedule, the ability to work from home, access to a mentor, or greater development opportunities.
· If you are afraid that the dollars truly don’t exist, suggest creative cost-saving strategies, only a portion of which would go towards your raise.
· Make your case compelling and matter of fact, without personalizing the situation. This is a business deal – create a business-like plan. Lay out for them your value based upon your current performance and future potential and commitment to the organization.
· Invest in yourself. Don’t wait for your employer to determine your future earning potential or the fate of your career wealth. Downtimes are perfect times to upgrade your skill set, get involved in volunteer work, board involvement and continuing education.
· Be willing to take on additional responsibility, especially when it builds your capabilities and ultimately your resume.

If the answer comes down and it isn’t everything you hoped for, watch your attitude! Your ability to accept reality and continue to succeed will make the loudest statement of all regarding your professionalism and emotional cost to the company.

So should you ask for that raise? That depends – not on the economy, but on you and the value you provide.


Remember Cy rocks and you rock!

Lead on my friend.