You’ve made major contributions to your company but your salary hasn’t kept pace. You know you deserve a big raise but no matter where you look for advice about getting a raise, it always seems to come down to the same points.
by guest blogger JAMES C. CRIMMINS
Below are the four points shared by conventional wisdom which assumes that your boss’s decision on your raise is carefully considered and rational. Truth is, it’s not. Read beyond these ‘four points’ for James’ unconventional approach to make it “feel” right… and take note of his book – I was sold in the foreword, where it mentions “it’s more about feelings than facts.” Enjoy the post. ~Yvonne DiVita
5 Other Ways to Get a Big Raise
Conventional wisdom says these are the ways to get a big raise… right?
Keep a record of what you have accomplished and share it with the boss at the big meeting.
Know what the job you do is worth so you know how much to request.
Don’t be bashful. Ask.
If you don’t get the raise, ask what you need to do to get one. Then do it.
Pretty good advice. The first three are definitely worth doing. But all the advice assumes the boss’s decision on your raise is a rational consideration. Psychologists know it isn’t—your boss goes with what feels right.
To influence how your boss feels, you can take advantage of five other, completely different, ways to get a big raise. And you can begin to lay the groundwork right now so that the raise you deserve will already be in the forefront of your boss’s mind when the big meeting takes place.
If your boss were asked to make a list of employees off the top of his or her head, whom would the boss list first? You want to be as close to the top of that list as you can. Your boss thinks most highly of people who come most easily to mind. Psychologists call this mental availability. Everybody has a natural bias in favor of people who pop into mind most quickly.
Improving your mental availability isn’t as hard as it may seem. You don’t even have to actually make a bigger contribution. All you have to do is stand out.
In group meetings, don’t just sit around the table like everybody else. Be more prominent. That could be as simple as sitting under a light, or an attentive posture, or sitting at the end of the table, or sitting in a slightly higher chair, or standing when everybody else is sitting. When you are a little more prominent, your contribution to the meeting will seem greater even if you say no more than you ordinarily would.
Look a little different. Obviously you don’t want to dress inappropriately but you can dress a little more distinctively. Your workspace too can appear a little more distinctive. Ask yourself how you could arrange your workspace so it doesn’t look like everybody else’s.
When the boss thinks of employees, the images of you standing out in meetings or a distinctive appearance or workspace will make you come to mind a bit more quickly and will bias the boss in your favor.
Change the frame of reference.
When your boss focuses on a number—any number for any reason—that number hangs around in his or her mind and biases all the boss’s estimates in the near future. Psychologists call this phenomenon “anchoring.” If your boss thinks about your raise shortly after getting his or her own raise, or after deciding what raises to give highly paid employees, you are likely to get a bigger raise. Those higher raises for others bias your raise upwards. If your boss thinks about your raise shortly after deciding what raises to give lower paid employees, those lower raises will bias yours downwards. Make sure to time your request so it comes when the boss is already thinking about bigger numbers.
You can also change the frame of reference by inserting a more advantageous basis of comparison. If you are working in St. Louis, for example, you are probably making less than people doing the same job in New York or Los Angeles. Find out what those people are making and get those numbers into your boss’s thought process. Even if you say that you realize that it is more expensive to live in New York or Los Angeles, you are likely to get a bigger raise because your boss will be thinking about those higher numbers.
Never ask what it takes to get a raise. Figure it out.
You want to know what you need to do to get a bigger raise. So, naturally, you ask the boss. Big mistake. The boss will surely give you an answer. But the boss doesn’t really know what you need to do to get a bigger raise—it’s not a rational decision—so he or she makes up something on the spot. If you are like most people, you will take the boss’s made-up answer seriously and change what you do accordingly. Unfortunately, what the boss says is important could be completely unimportant and you will waste a lot of time and effort—a recipe for frustration.
If you want to know what it takes to get a bigger raise, look around. You probably know who is getting those bigger raises now. What seems to be the pattern? If the raises are based on something other than race, gender, age, or family, you will be able to get a good idea what sorts of behavior are generously rewarded and which aren’t. What you observe will be a much more accurate answer to how to get a raise than the answer the boss makes up.
Forget “Under promise. Over deliver.” People experience what they expect to experience. If you “under promise,” the boss will likely “under experience” no matter how well you actually deliver. Don’t over promise but don’t hide your light under a bushel. Pre-sell whatever contribution you make. Make sure the boss knows in advance that it’s coming, it’s good, and it’s important. We’ve all been taught the virtue of humility but humility is not a good strategy for getting a bigger raise. If the boss has heard about your contribution before he or she encounters it, the boss will greet the contribution more favorably. Psychologists have demonstrated that “mere exposure” to an idea, a concept, even a nonsense syllable makes people a little more positive toward it when they encounter it again even if they don’t remember being exposed to it. Always foreshadow your contributions and make sure you are unmistakably tied to them.
Pre-selling your contributions is much more effective than keeping track of them. It makes each of your contributions more memorable and feel bigger.
Act like a person who gets a big raise.
Kurt Vonnegut said, “We are who we pretend to be.” Pretend to be someone who deserves a big raise. Observers pay close attention to what you do and worry little about why you do it. People will assume you are who you pretend to be and won’t be concerned with your motive for acting that way. This is called the “fundamental attribution error”—and it’s a helpful concept to remember in your professional life.
So, no matter how big your actual contribution, act like someone who merits a big raise. Look at the people in your company and elsewhere who get big raises. Act like them. When you act like a success you improve the opinion your boss has of you. When you act that way, you will even convince yourself that—in addition to your accomplishments—you are the sort of person who deserves a substantial salary increase. And when the big meeting happens, you’ll be in the best possible position to influence the outcome.
JAMES C. CRIMMINS has been a professional persuader for 27 years, mainly as Chief Strategic Officer for DDB Chicago and a worldwide brand planning director with clients such as Budweiser, McDonald’s, State Farm, and Betty Crocker.
James has earned a PhD in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Statistics from the University of Chicago and has taught Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University’s Medill School.
In his new book, 7 Secrets of Persuasion (September, 2016; Career Press), Crimmins combines his scientific, professional, and academic background to explain how the revolution in mind science changes the conventional wisdom of influence and can make anyone a more successful persuader.
(I invite you to comment on James’ post, and to get your copy of his book today. We’d like to see more from James, wouldn’t you?)