April 13, 2013

Make Salary Increase Requests Work For You

salary increaseMost bosses hate it when one of their people asks for more money.

I love it.  Here’s why.

When one of my people asks me for more money I get to ask him for more value, or at least ask him to explain how his value contribution has increased.  I LOVE to have conversations with people on my team about how they can contribute more value.

I used to talk about this all the time in my old company.  At our monthly All Hands meeting I’d regularly tell everyone that I was dying to pay each one of them a higher salary.  And all they had to do in order to get that higher salary was to contribute more value.  Have ideas and take action to solve our problems better.  Expand their scope of responsibility.  Take initiative and deliver more value to our customers.

This was such a great message.  Delivered again and again, it began to chip away at an entitlement mentality with which most managers are depressingly familiar.  You know the one — “Hey boss, I’ve been here for a year now so I’d like a salary increase.”

I wanted to break the common belief that time at a job = regular higher salary.  Every chance I got, I’d repeat the message that I expected everyone in our company always to be learning and growing.  “Learn more to earn more.”

We believed that everybody should have an opportunity to improve themselves, so we organized an internal “university” to teach classes and mini-courses such as “Effective Communication,” “Presentation Skills” and even “Story Telling.”  (Story-telling was fantastic for marketing people and managers.)  I taught a long-term “mini-MBA” course to managers.  Each of these activities helped us to create a “learning culture” in the company.  Everyone knew that they were expected to learn and grow continuously.  Our leaders set the example by practicing what they preached.

All these activities and messages helped nudge people into a mentality of “How can I increase my value?” when they found themselves wanting more salary (which is all the time).  It got more people thinking about how to improve our business.  It got every brain in the game.

Yes, I had to pay higher salaries.  And I was glad to do it.  Because I got my money’s worth.