3 Quick Tips for Managing Raise Requests
One of the most difficult aspects of being a manager is being on the receiving end of an employee’s request for a raise. He or she might well deserve more money, but perhaps the budget just isn’t there to accommodate it. Or, you might feel the employee needs to step up his or her game before a promotion is in order. Either way, you might be headed toward a difficult discussion.
It’s these tough conversations regarding salary and merit that will make you a better leader in the workplace. So the next time you hear an employee say, “I need a raise,” try these three tips to form a proper, professional response:
1. Make Sure You’re Really Listening
Good managers listen to their employees—even if what they’re saying isn’t exactly what you want to hear. After all, your employees deserve your undivided attention.
There are different types of listening. Internal listening is when you hear what the person is saying, but you are too focused on your inner thoughts: “How much more money does he want?” “Will she quit if she doesn’t get a raise?” “What if they are all waiting to ask me for a raise?” In short, this isn’t really listening.
Focused listening is a bit better, since you’re concentrating on what your employee is saying, but you may not be aware of what he’s not saying. That’s where 360 listening comes in, as this enables you to tune in to not only what he’s saying, but the way in which he is saying it and any non-verbal cues.
2. Ask Questions—Lots and Lots of Questions
Once you’ve understood the request your employee has made, ask some questions of your own. “Tell me more” is a simple way to start in response to an employee’s request for a raise. By allowing her to state her case, you are showing you respect her initiative and are taking her and her request seriously.
Ask follow-up questions so that you can establish a clearer picture of what your direct report is really asking for and why. Go with open-ended ones so you can find out as much as possible about the nature of your employee’s request. Another good query might be, “I’d like to understand what’s behind your request for a raise at this time. Can you tell me more?” Remember, it’s not another job interview—you’re simply getting more information from your employee about the nature of her request.
3. Steer Clear of Rushed Responses
Your employee deserves an answer, but you certainly don’t have to give one on the spot. And don’t say, “It’s not up to me.” Sure, your HR team likely needs to weigh in on any salary decisions, but that’s not the point: When you say the decision isn’t in your hands, you are relinquishing part of your authority as a manager. Instead, let him know you have heard their request and will get back to him with an answer.
When it’s time to give your employee the good news or the bad news, just get on with it. It’s not fair to keep people hanging, and it’s not fair to your organization to risk an employee’s potential lack of engagement—particularly as he or she starts to look for another position with better pay.
As a manager, you know that happy employees make for a happy work environment. While a pay raise can certainly boost morale, it’s not always a viable option. These tips can help you take on this tough topic with your employees and make you a stronger leader in the long run.