Editor's Note: In this Classic post, Jim Brennan takes a close look at the talents and tactics of the expert raise-getter. Do the Serious Seven that Jim notes still reign today -- or are you seeing new and different approaches and arguments? Take a moment to share your own experience.
Reasons cited to support a request for a raise usually include the Serious Seven:
The really proficient raise-getter shoots all seven at you in a concentrated stream of information, typically right after you have complemented them on a really good work result. “Since I personally perform my expanded unique job so much better than the competitive market norm that exceeds my pay and don’t make as much as my poorer-performing less-experienced co-workers even though I have more in-grade seniority and have no backup, at a time when I’m struggling to buy a house and put my kids through college while constantly rejecting all these attractive offers of higher pay from recruiters, don’t you agree that I deserve a big raise?”
The person who hits you with all those without hardly pausing to draw a breath knows what they are doing. Pretty hard to simultaneously deflect all those shots when you’re not well prepared with a stock quick answer.
Did personal performance output results exceed reasonable expectations? Were original job duties expanded enough to warrant extra compensation? Do competitors really pay more for the same work? Is the hybrid position so unique you can’t pin down its value? Are the co-workers paid in any way that can be construed as so inequitable as to support a demand for parity due to superior merit, seniority or experience? After cutbacks and staff reductions, can you afford to lose someone who straddles diverse tasks? Has the worker actually experienced a loss in purchasing power or an increase in lifestyle costs so that their income no longer covers their reasonable family expenses? Is it possible that you could lose them to a headhunter dangling other job opportunities (always a fatter title for more money)?
If a shiver goes down your neck, they may have succeeded in persuading you that if they walk, you may never be able to find another suitable replacement of their unique quality in one person at such a bargain price.
Even if every single one of those conditions doesn’t apply, you still have to admire the clever approach.
What other major classes of justifications have you encountered? After recalling the Big Five standard excuses from The Day, I realized that modern times have added two more: scope of work and irreplaceability are relatively new reasons, in my experience. So I offer a “Serious Seven.” But I still doubt that I have a comprehensive list of every rationale that exists.
What is missing?
E. James (Jim) Brennan is an independent compensation advisor with extensive total rewards experience, specializing in job evaluation, market pricing and pay budget distribution. He worked in every phase of corporate HR, consulted throughout North America and served as Senior Associate of pay survey software publisher ERI . A prolific writer (author of the Performance Management Workbook) and speaker, Jim gave expert witness testimony in many reasonable executive compensation cases both for and against the Internal Revenue Service and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Compensation and Benefits Review.