Short of ‘Will you marry me?’ there are few questions more vulnerable than “Id like a promotion … Uh, er … When can we make this happen?!”
High stakes, fear of rejection, the risk of humiliation, and even losing confidence or the ability to express your thoughts may develop side by side with seeking advancement.
But timing, research, knowing your audience, and careful planning as part of seeking a promotion should reduce stress, and raise your confidence level and the likelihood of success.
For some employees, performance appraisal time is ideal for asking for a promotion. But since some companies review everyone at the same time, understand that your supervisors are going to be overwhelmed with requests like yours, at the same time. Consider planning a separate meeting at a different time of year. Be considerate and don’t spring any surprises. Sending him or her an email before your review stating your purpose (‘I’m hoping we can review my potential for advancement’) is an expected professional courtesy.
If you’re asking for a promotion, with or without a raise … hopefully, with, you need to confidently know that you deserve one and why.
Assemble a tangible list of your achievements pointing to how you’ve met or exceeded all requirements and expectations. Come up with another list of new responsibilities you’d like to take on, and perhaps even suggest a new title in keeping with your role.
Be aware of what kinds of raises are given in your workplace, along with the salary range for employees in the new job you seek. Be reasonable and don’t ask for too much at once. Keep in mind, too, that you can ask for things other than an increase. A nicer office, better hours, more days off, enhanced benefits, a bonus plan, more learning experiences, better equipment, a company vehicle, classes in your field, more frequent performance reviews, as well as travel opportunities are possible perks you can request, but not all at the same time.
Choose your battles wisely. Knowing which requests are appropriate or not is also a valuable skill set.
Knowing your audience:
Is your boss under stress, professionally or personally? Has your company just survived a major crisis? Is the day, month, or time of day you were planning to meet isn't as ideal as you anticipated? Hold off for a bit. You will want to meet with your boss at a time when there are fewer distractions, and then give him or her time to thoughtfully consider your request. Follow up when necessary, but give it an ample amount of time. Getting a promotion or raise may be a huge priority for you, but probably isn’t as urgent for your boss.
It’s easy to get tongue-tied when asking for a raise, so practice. It’s a good idea to know exactly what you want to say and how you want to present your ideas. Write down your thoughts, organize them in order of priority, and decide when you’re going to interject your various points … at the beginning, middle, or end of your conversation or review. Smile … Relax. Don’t badmouth other people or bring work or personal drama into the conversation.
Also, plan for potential objections and strategies for countering them. If your boss says, ‘We’re in a bad place financially,’ you may consider saying, ‘I realize we’re experiencing some temporary setbacks, but an expression of confidence in my performance will help get us out of trouble … I want to help. Let me show you how.’ And then do it. Don’t make claims you cannot back up. If s/he says something like, ‘giving raises is not in the budget this year,’ you may reply, ‘Is that flexible? If not, then what can we do to reward me for my good work, financial contributions, and allegiance to our company? … And when do you expect that will change?’ If you hear, ‘I’ll need to run this up the flagpole,’ then end on a positive note with: ‘Okay, great! Here’s a list of my responsibilities, how I’ve exceeded them, and what I’d like to take on next … When can we have a meeting to follow up?’ You want to strike a balance between being assertive and positive without being annoying. Your goal is to eventually score that raise.
Remember to practice, stay calm, and don’t appear desperate or inconsiderate. Courtesy, intelligent listening, and understanding the value of time are all valuable keys to success.