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5 inappropriate times to ask for a salary increase

During a time when everything is going up except for salaries, it can become hard to sustain your lifestyle. Unfortunately, salary raises are not conventional in every organization. I've found that many organizations review salaries at least once a year. Talk to your HR representative to understand the cycle for your company. Is it acceptable for you to ask for more money? Yes! You are in charge of your career and destiny. You should be empowered to inquire about your position, salary, bonus, benefits and so much more!

With that said, you want to be mindful of when you put forward your request. Below are 5 inappropriate times for having this conversation with your boss or your company’s HR.

1. Numbers are not looking great

One time, I worked for a company that was struggling so bad they didn’t even have annual reviews. They didn’t even want to talk to the employees about pay increases or performance. And to be honest, we were just grateful to still have jobs, with how bad the business was doing. When sales volume has reduced, and salaries are being delayed by a few days, yet you go ahead to request a raise, if bad timing were a person, that would be you! It is definitely in bad taste to ask for an upward review of your pay when the company's financial distress is common knowledge. It portrays you as insensitive and selfish.

2. Busy workdays

Several important matters are being attended to within an organization every day. One easy way to get your request shelved is to bring it up on a busy day and during peak hours. Mondays to Wednesdays are usually busy, you can’t but agree. Instead, try the last two days of the week. An ideal time will be somewhere between 10 am and 3 pm.

3. Layoff season

Companies lay off employees for a variety of reasons. It may be due to mergers & acquisitions, seasonal changes, position redundancies, or as a cost-cutting measure. Whatever the reason might be, the organization's financials are delicate at this time. Layoffs are hard on individual contributors and managers, both are impacted. The individual contributor must now find a new way to provide for their family. And the manager has to live with the fact that they had to let someone go. Submitting your request is hence a bad idea.

4. No recent accomplishments

Have you introduced an innovative solution? Has customer satisfaction increased due to your service delivery? Did you organize high-profile events that brought in clients in the last quarter?

If you approach your employer for a raise, they want to know it is merited. What have you contributed to the growth of the organization in the last six months or one year? If you haven’t recorded any achievement in recent times, don’t even think about it.

5. Still new on the job

You joined the organization less than six months ago. Yet, you’re already asking for an increase in remuneration. If this were a game of chess, you would be committing a ‘blunder’. Okay…! You realized late that you shortchanged yourself at the point of salary negotiation. My candid advice - focus on doing your job and making an impact in your first year there. You won’t be the one asking for it. (Also don’t accept salaries from new jobs that you wouldn’t be happy with for at least 1-2 years)

Have you ever had a request-gone-wrong experience at work (for a raise or leave of absence)? What do you think was responsible and what did you learn from it?



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