#03: How to Ask for a Raise and Get Your Manager to Say “Yes” [Personal Story Shared]

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The People-First Culture podcast is one where we share lessons on building a People-First Culture within a company.

Welcome to episode 3  of my podcast. By listening you’ll learn:
– How and why my manager said no to a raise request early in my career.
– How I’d want team members to ask for a raise today.
– Mistakes that can be avoided.

How we can link up:

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Welcome to the People First Culture podcast with me, Michel Falcon, where I share lessons I’ve learned and those of others on how to build a more purposeful business and career.

Everyone, it is Michel Falcon. Thank you for tuning into episode three of my podcast. I hope you listened to episode two with Balbina Knight. I wanted to unpack and understand how she’s gotten promoted so many times in her career, how she transitioned from hospitality into performance marketing, while having an expertise in company culture. That’s something you are familiar with that I really care about.

If you haven’t listened to that episode, please go and do so. If you have family members, friends, team members that you think could learn from Balbina, please share that episode with them. Subscribe to the podcast. Leaving a review is extraordinarily valuable. If you find episode three valuable, please consider leaving a review and visit my website, michelfalcon.com, there you can subscribe to my email list. Once a week I will email you things that I believe are valuable for my audience and their lessons that I’ve learned and lessons of other people to build a great business and a really fruitful career. Go ahead, michelfalcon.com, go visit and subscribe to the email list.

This episode is important. I think it’s something that many people struggle with. I know I definitely have struggled with this and I’ve learned a lot of lessons. How to ask for a raise and actually get your manager to say, “Yes.” There’s three key things that you have to do that I will unpack in a moment, but first I wanted to share my story that it’s almost embarrassing to share with you. It was just all the wrong things to do when asking for a raise.

It was in 2010, perhaps 2011, and I met with my manager at the time, Patrick Lewis, somebody who I am still connected with and I keep in touch with, although not as much as I wish we could, given the pandemic. Currently, he is an executive on the customer experience side of things for Canada Goose. I was first introduced to Patrick while I worked at 1-800-GOT-JUNK. This story I’m about to share with you happened while we were at 1-800-GOT-JUNK. I believe Patrick has also worked at Lululemon, companies you know, somebody that was absolutely paramount to shaping my career and helping me achieve the things that I have achieved. I owe a lot that man.

This is what happened. We met for coffee one morning and I remember exactly where we were. It was in Vancouver and we had met outside of… It was in a food court. We were outside of Tim Hortons or just outside of McDonald’s, but it was a food court, we sat down and we had some things that we needed to talk about related to my role or a project we were working on. I can’t remember those details, but I remember him not giving me a raise and no fault of his. I believe it was all my fault in why I did not get that raise that I was looking for. We met for coffee, we had an agenda and I asked for a raise and I heard, “No.” That was pretty much the end of the conversation. We continued on to talk with the things that we had met to speak about.

Deflated, I left that meeting and I knew immediately that I did not approach that properly, which is why I did not achieve the outcome that I wanted. That’s what this episode is about, is me sharing three things that I wish I had done. The first thing is being aware. One of the things that you have I have to do, I would argue that it’s the first thing that you have to do before you asked for a raise, is do some due diligence on the financial health of the company.

Now this can be hard because not every company is open book, but you should have some sort of knowledge of how the company is performing. For example, do they have the means to be able to give you this raise that you’re asking for? Now this is relevant to small, medium, or large size companies. How can you understand if they have the means? Well, if they just went through a round of layoffs, likely not. If they just reported a record quarter, they’re probably traded company, perhaps they do. Have people been promoted recently in the past 30 days?

I would argue that they probably aren’t in a position to give another person a raise, because they had budgeted for those promotions and those promotions more often than not, I think every time, come with a pay increase. What happened there is you miss the boat. You’re a little late.

You want to first understand, do I believe to the best of my knowledge, do I believe that this company is in the financial state to be able to provide me a raise at this time? The second thing is have foresight. What I did incorrectly with Patrick, is that I showed up to a meeting where there was an agenda and I started the conversation with the thing that I wanted. He was probably caught off guard. He wasn’t prepared to have the conversation. He did and what I probably would have done, and I would have done the same, is I just said, “No.” It wasn’t as simple as that, he had given me an explanation that I can’t recite, but then we moved on to the discussion items. I did not give him the awareness or the heads up that I was going to be talking about.

What I wish I had done was 45 to 60 days before the day that I was going to ask for the raise, I would’ve planted the seed. I would have said, “Patrick, I am motivated to get a raise within the next 60 days. I’m letting you know now that these are the things that I’m going to be doing and in 60 days, I would like to have a conversation with you.” Now that’s not to say that in 60 days, I want a raise, it’s in 60 days, I want to have a conversation with you about getting a raise. Now that race could happen instantly. It could happen a week later. It could happen a month later. It could happen three months later. Really depends on that manager and then managing their labor budget.

You have to keep in mind, these individuals would, if they’re the right people, the right leader, they want to give you that raise. They want to give all their high-performing, all their engaged employees that raise, but you can’t just… They have a budget to protect, right? That makes them good at their job. They can’t have everybody just asking for raises all of a sudden. Have foresight and give them the heads up that in 60 days, this is what I’m going to do. In 60 days, I would like to have a conversation with you.

Now, imagine if that meeting that I had with Patrick happened this way, it was 60 days after, we both went into that meeting that day, knowing that the discussion item for today is Shel’s compensation. Patrick would have had time to think about it before and come to a decision without almost being forced to make a decision that he was not prepared for. The last thing I would recommend doing at that 60 day point, and I just… That’s an arbitrary number, 60 days, it could be 30 days, it could be 45 days, I’ll leave that with you to determine. You want to give them time.

But during this presentation that you are doing to your manager and why, what does the raise look like and of course why, outline how you’re going to pay for yourself. If you would like a $10,000 a year raise, give evidence in why you believe you have earned this. You may even go, and I highly recommend this, you may even say by giving me a $10,000 a year raise, I would also like to take on this responsibility and this responsibility after that raise has been granted to me. This will save the department X amount of dollars, or our bandwidth will increase by Y. You have to give them something to evaluate in, “Okay, if I’m going to increase Michel’s salary by $10,000, well, how might this be net positive for us? How might this be a return on investment with the other responsibilities that he’s going to take on?” Because I’m not familiar with any raise that happens and the individual doesn’t take on other responsibilities. I think it should be mandated by the individual. They should expect to have more responsibilities and I think high performers understand that really well.

If you do those three things, give awareness, have foresight and then outline how you’re going to pay for yourself, that will put you in a much stronger position than I was in when I asked for that raise and he heard, “No.” I should have first understood is the company in a position to give me this raise, to the best of my ability of understanding this?

Let me give my manager the heads up that I want to have a conversation in 60 days and let me outline how I’m going to pay for myself, if you were to give me that $10,000 a year raise. Do those three things. They have worked for people that I have shared this with this. Isn’t something that I’m sharing with you without evidence. I’ve had I believe everyone, except one person use this information and the sample size was small. I believe it was seven people that I’ve tested this with. Six of them said that they got their raise. That tells me that it works, which is why I’m sharing it with you today. That’s a Testament for everything that we share on this podcast, is I’m not going to recommend something to you if I personally haven’t had success with it.

If I share it with you and I didn’t have success with it, I’m sharing that with you for other lessons, like the example I gave you with Patrick. This does not work, stay away from doing it this way. If you follow the three steps that I’ve outlined today, that’s going to completely disarm the person you’re speaking with because you are prepared. You’re providing evidence and you’re thinking company first. If you give me a $10,000 a year raise, I’m going to do X, Y, Z.

Now explain it better than that, choose better words than that, but that will tell your manager or your leader that he or she’s really thinking about the company. That’s how you’re going to be able to do that. If you put the company first, but then you will win as well, because you’ve gotten that race that you wanted.

If they ask you, “Will you leave if I don’t give you this raise,” never give your leader an ultimatum, but be honest. Say that you will be disappointed if you do not earn this raise and that you may be more inclined to be lured away from the company, which means that you may look for other opportunities. Now that isn’t an ultimatum, that’s just being honest. Notice how you responded to their question, “Will you leave if I don’t give this to you?” You didn’t lead with that. You just responded with honesty and there’s nothing wrong with that.

That’s actually what your leader wants if it’s the leader that you should have. Never give an ultimatum, but be honest in what the actions might be or what the actions you will take if you hear, “No.” But let’s hope you don’t hear, “No,” let’s hope you hear, “Yes,” and that’s a huge win for you. What I would like you to do is if you use this format, can you please contact me? Whether that’s through DM or emailing me, please contact me and let me know, “Hey, it worked.” I want to know how this is working for individuals.

Everyone, thank you. That is episode three. I’m excited for you to subscribe. Leave a review. If you learn something, please leave a review that really helps with the podcast and in creating visibility for this. Thank you so much everyone. Visit my website, michelfalcon.com, if you want to subscribe to our email list where every week I’m going to send you information and lessons that I’ve learned and lessons of others to build an awesome business and grow a fantastic career. I will see you next time. I am @michelfalcon everywhere online.

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