My first job out of graduate school was for multi-hyphenate (talk radio host, TV show host, author, speaker, and trainer) Dave Ramsey. He has a lot of ideas with which I agree – and several that I don’t – but one that I agree with in a profound way is his aphorism that “Your raise is effective when you are.”
So what does that mean? It means that you will earn your raise when you EARN it. When your boss sees you not only doing your work effectively, but going above-and-beyond, thinking creatively, working as a team, and truly excelling in every way. Essentially, when you become effective.
The definition of effective is being “successful in producing a desired or intended result.” When you are hired, you’re essentially in a contract with your boss to produce certain expected results. Doing the bare minimum is not the desired results. Success and excellence (in most cases) are the desired results. Therefore, you should never expect a raise just for doing your job. If you are doing your job with excellence, it is usually noticed.
I’ve noticed over my years in business that women tend to be hesitant to ask for raises. Men can be, at times, too bold. You don’t get a raise every quarter. You might not get a raise every year. You should, theoretically, get a raise when your effectiveness makes an impact on the overall business model or the scope of your job. A good idea is to approach your boss or supervisor calmly, present why you think you deserve a raise, use tangible metrics to prove your point, and start a discussion. If they say it isn’t in the budget, you can always ask when it might be in the budget or when those budgets are being reevaluated.
There are always supervisors with whom these approaches won’t work. Some of us have had the misfortune of having bad or rude bosses. It happens. Some don’t understand what we do well enough to be able to understand what we’re trying to quantify. That’s why it’s important to bring in metrics that prove your worth. Maybe it’s a workflow that cut reporting time down. Maybe it’s acquiring certification in a new skill. Maybe it was finding a new software tool that does more but cuts out overhead. Any of these items demonstrate efficiency, effectiveness, and drive. Walking in and saying, “I’m a good worker,” doesn’t work.
Constantly asking for raises can also be off-putting. But don’t be afraid to ask for a raise when you feel your work warrants it. It’s a balancing act to feel out where your supervisor is in the process and what they’re open to.