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Asking for a raise — particularly for women — can be really hard. First off, it’s uncomfortable to be in an “asking position” because you’re indicating to your boss that you’re not happy. It also may not work out, which could lead to disappointment. And finally, it can just be scary!
But it’s important to get what you deserve.
Before you ask for a raise, make sure it’s warranted. Do a thorough analysis of your market, industry and job to understand your position and your company’s needs. After all, asking for a raise you do not truly deserve can be a career killer; it’s something I hear from bosses all the time.
Once you have confirmed that you are underpaid, it’s time to strategize how to get it done.
What many workers don’t take into consideration is their boss’ personality type. But in order to increase your odds of getting (and maximizing) a raise, you’ll need to figure out which bucket your boss falls into — it may even be a combination.
The dominant style
These bosses are direct and to the point. They like to push the limits and are determined to succeed, sometimes at all costs. They are goal-focused and like to win.
How to approach them – Think through what you want to say and why you deserve this raise. Be concise and bullet point your thinking. These people don’t have a lot of patience so get to the point quickly. They believe that people should be paid fairly so be logical and prove why it’s fair. These people are doers, so they will want to see what you have done to achieve this new level of pay. Also show that you are willing to do the work and produce the results that will go along with this increase. They want to see wins on the board so show them exactly how you will contribute.
Be aware – They do not like to feel taken for granted. Be grateful for what you have, but explain why you would like more. Don’t be emotional; they are the logical type. And don’t be too timid but not too aggressive either. Dominants like their own ideas the best, so they will not love that you came up with this thought first. If you get a “no,” don’t back off, be clear and give them time to think it through.
And remember – Dominants are scary but they are willing to fight for you behind closed doors for you to get ahead. They especially make good sponsors. They will push you hard but fight for you to succeed.
The influencer style
Influencers love people and are extroverts. They love to talk, tell stories and get personal. They are very optimistic, always seeing the bright side and believing everything will work out. They are spontaneous and can think on the spot so they don’t need a lot of prep time to make decisions.
How to approach them – Tell them your story … how you got to where you are, where you want to go and why you deserve this raise. Be thoughtful and connecting so you can appeal to their emotional side. Make them care about you and your life journey and how they can contribute. Also think about how you add back to the work culture that they care so deeply about. What is it that you add to the team dynamic? What is your secret sauce?
Be aware – They like to be liked, so it is hard for them to say no. They lead with “yes” so they will want to appease you. If they do not want to give you the raise, they may beat around the bush or derail the conversation by changing the subject. Keep them on task; if you know you deserve this, you may need to make them a little uncomfortable. Just remember to be upbeat and keep smiling. Influencers hate ‘Debbie Downers,’ so no trash talking or negative energy. Keep it all feeling positive but press for what you want.
And remember – They are talkers so if they think you deserve it they will tell everyone and push for you. They will also get into action right away as they like to be in motion.
The steady style
These bosses are very calm and even keeled. They are always consistent, showing up kind and thoughtful even when things are in chaos. They like to keep the peace so they work hard to make everyone happy. They feel collaboration is very important to all good teams.
How to approach them – They likely want the best for you and are often loyal to subordinates if you are in favor with them. Although it’s hard to tell if you are not in their favor as they like to make everyone feel good. Since the steady types are unassuming, be humble and do not brag about your big achievements. Explain thoughtfully why you feel you have earned your raise. Reflect back to them the calm energy they exhibit by keeping you voice steady and do not get excited but be expressive. Don’t make the raise all about you; talk about the greater team and the organization.
Be aware – They do not like showboats. Don’t be too “me” focused. Of course, this conversation is about you, but you don’t want to leave them with the impression that it’s narcissistic. Keep your ego in check. Make it about the “why” and be sincere. Lead with integrity and emotion – no drama, but emotional connection as to why this raise makes sense. They love to collaborate so keep the team in mind. If they default to the team as an excuse, push for why you need to rise in order to be more effective for the group.
And remember – They move slow so they will want to think this through. You will likely need to schedule a follow-up meeting. They do not like asking for their own needs so if they do think you need the raise you may need to help them craft the discussion they will need to have with their own boss.
The conscientious style
These people are very logical and detail driven. They love to research, analyze and think through a problem. They love process and putting things in order. They are cautious by nature and don’t love risk-taking. Known for their poker face, they are serious and often skeptical.
How to approach them – Do your homework and be ready to present your case with lots of examples and detail. Even preparing a visual example to display your thinking would be helpful. They want it to be fair so they need to study the facts to understand why you deserve this raise. Since they do not like to be caught off guard, plan your meeting in advance and give them insight into what you would like to discuss.
Be aware – Do not be emotional or get too excited. Be very clear and thoughtful. They are naturally suspicious so don’t over prove yourself. They are assuming there is some hidden agenda or angle so be straight forward and have integrity.
And remember – They will not like having to push for you because they are introverts by nature and don’t want to have to do extra talking or pushing unless completely necessary. But they believe in doing what is right so if they believe getting you the raise is the right thing then they will push for it. Be appreciative and empathic to their needs.
Let’s face it, no boss likes being asked for a raise. There is no getting around that but at least you can cater to the mindset of your leader. While you do not have to be similar to your boss in personality, you do have to understand their thinking and what motivates them into action. This way you can get them thinking about you from a position that is comfortable for them and makes sense in their mind.
Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs. She is a nationally recognized keynote speaker and executive coach to top leaders and teams across a broad range of industries