Managing Pay Rise Requests

salary negotiationsManagers may be unaware of their employee's thoughts toward their pay until they receive a knock on their office door and the request that “I want to talk to you about a pay rise”. This situation needs to be carefully managed, so consider these five tips which will help you handle a pay rise request from a team member.

1. Treat their request seriously
Many managers’ initial reaction to a request for a pay rise from one of their team is a knee-jerk reaction and to say ‘no’. However, even if the request comes as a complete surprise to you, you should never simply react without thinking your decision through.

Remember, your team members will often equate the level of salary they earn as a tangible representation of the value they feel they are to the business. This can have a direct correlation on their engagement and level of motivation. So every pay rise request you receive should be treated by you both seriously and with respect.

This does not, however, mean you will automatically say yes to such a request. You should ask your team member for their reasons on why they think they deserve an increase in their salary.

You should also establish the parameters around the role and your own expectations, making sure that your team member understands what is required from them in order to earn a salary increase.

2. Take the stress out of the situation
It can be nerve-racking for many team members to ask their line manager directly for a pay rise, and as a result they may only do so after they have built up a list in their own minds of grudges and grievances about not being recognised by the company. They are therefore likely to be in a negative emotional state when asking for a pay rise and this can colour both their, and your, ability to think rationally.

Salary discussions tend to work best for both parties when both the team member and their manager have prepared. If faced with a sudden request, do give yourself time to think by not dealing with it then and there but by setting up a meeting in the very near future.

Whilst performance reviews, or appraisals as they are sometimes called, are not the place for a salary review, they do provide a platform which allows a discussion about the relationship between a team member's performance, reward and recognition.

Having a regular and transparent process with regards to pay awards will help manage the build-up of emotions, so managers should schedule salary reviews at an appropriate date after an appraisal.

3. Check the industry standard

Before you have a salary review meeting you must ensure you understand what the typical pay scale is for the employee's role. There are many salary comparison sites available on the internet and a number of institutes and professional bodies publish annual salary surveys and trend data. You can use these in addition to information provided by your own HR department about salary grades in your organisation to find out the “going rate” for a given job type.

Having this information helps you to better understand why your team memebr has asked for a pay rise and if you feel it is a valid request it can also help you present the case rationally to your own line manager.

4. Review the employee's recent performance
When it comes to offering a pay rise, it is past results that count. A pay rise should be the result of the team member having done work above and beyond their defined role, and not simply meeting the standard for the job they are employed to do.

Before considering a pay rise, you must consider the additional value the team member is currently delivering to the business that is more than is expected in their role. If you manage a team of people who have very similar roles and they are all performing to the same standard then you need to be aware that a pay rise awarded to one team member will almost certainly result in requests for a similar pay rise from every other team member.

5. Consider non-monetary alternatives
As we mentioned before, asking for a pay rise is often associated with the team member feeling that they have not been recognised for all their hard work. If your company is not willing, or not able, to provide a straight forward pay increase - perhaps because of budgetary restrictions, then you may be able to offer that team member additional benefits instead. These non-financial rewards could include allowing them more flexible working hours or perhaps additional holiday entitlement.

By treating a request for a pay rise seriously, taking the stress out of the situation, being transparent about the relationship between performance and reward and balancing the needs of the business, managers can ensure more positive discussions when asked for a pay rise.