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If you have a question for our Career Coach, E-mail Helen at careers@ReConnectAfrica.com

ImageDear Helen

I have been on the same salary for 3 years and even though I get good reviews every year, my boss has not offered me a pay rise. I am getting very frustrated and my friends are advising me to leave the company. What do you think?”

Kayode, Lagos

Dear Kayode

Negotiating a pay rise is something that many people have difficulty doing and yet we negotiate every day with family, friends and colleagues without feeling anything like the same level of stress!  You mention that your boss has not offered you a pay rise; that suggests that you are putting the onus on him or her to give you one rather than taking pro-active steps to demonstrate why you are worth more to the company than it is currently paying.  All companies like to keep their overheads down and, quite often, firms will pay only what they have to in order to keep their staff.

Before you make the decision to leave, you should ensure that you have made every effort to prove your case for a pay rise.  Like all negotiating, you should bear in mind the longer-term goal – in this case, preserving a good relationship with your boss and the company.  Successful negotiation involves creating a win/win situation for both parties – getting your pay rise in the short term and destroying your relationship with your boss will not help you in the long term.  Let me make the following suggestions:

  • repare your case for a pay rise very carefully. Being well prepared gives you the basis for a strategic negotiation. Be prepared to be flexible. A win/win scenario requires both parties to make concessions.
  • Research the salary level you think is appropriate for your job and responsibilities. What are similar companies paying employees in your job role? Ask around and speak to agencies or recruiters about pay levels in your industry and in your region. Salaries are typically based on what the market is paying as well as your own contribution to your company. What does your contract say, if anything, about your entitlement to a pay rise? Remember also that there is a difference between the value of the job you are performing for the company and your value as an employee.
  • Consider how well the company is performing. If the company has not been performing well, it may be the case that pay rises are simply not an affordable option for the business.
  • Keep the discussions respectful while being assertive about the issue. Approach any discussion from an emotionally mature and objective perspective. Keep in mind that you are looking for a solution that retains a good working relationship for all the parties concerned.
  • Gather your evidence of what you are worth. Simply saying “I’ve been here for 3 years and was hoping to have a pay rise” is not enough. Document your achievements and any additional responsibilities you have taken on. Have you been responsible for increased revenues for the company? Have you helped the department or the company to save costs? Have you introduced any successful innovations? How have you used any additional knowledge and skills you have to benefit the company? What commendations have you received in your annual reviews? You really need to know what you are worth and what you have achieved, and why you deserve the pay rise. Be prepared to explain all of these points in detail and to show your commitment to the company.
  • Ask for a higher pay rise than you are likely to get – but keep it relative to the facts of the market – to give yourself room to negotiate. You are likely to be offered less even if you are successful, so go in with a higher figure.
  • If your boss says no to your request, review the reasons given carefully. It may be due to the company’s financial position, your own performance or the fact that the job you do currently just does not warrant a pay rise. In the last case, is there an opportunity to take on more responsibility or seek a promotion to be able to earn more?
  • Avoid mentioning any other job offers you could have been offered. Trying to hold your boss to ransom can backfire in showing commitment and thereby damage your future with the company. On the other hand, don’t issue ultimatums you are not prepared to carry out. If you really intend to leave should you not achieve your bottom line figure, you should be prepared to do so.

If you really feel you deserve a pay rise and you are not happy working at the company, then you should consider searching for a new job that would be willing to pay you more. If your boss says no without any good reasons, that is the time to take the next step.

If you need some more personalised coaching, contact us to find out more about how we can help.

Good luck!


Voted Candace Business Woman of the Year 1997, Helen Dupigny is a Director and co-founder of Working Plus, (www.working-plus.com) a Careers Management and Diversity consultancy and creator of the award-winning ‘Six Steps Career and Personal Development Programme’. A Sierra Leonean based in London, Helen is also the author of ‘Vicissitude’, a guide to making life and career changes.

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