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My manager and I have just completed my annual review. Everything went well, he says I'm performing beyond expectation. I am learning more and doing more than what is in my job description. I know the job description is just a guideline but since I have taken on more responsibility I honestly expected more than the standard 3% raise that I received.

  • I'm currently below market value on average pay scale for similar titles (I do not have a degree but am enrolled in school for the fall.)
  • I have recently been added to a new project with significant cost savings
  • I'm furthering my education and obtaining relevant certifications
  • I have taken over planning production areas for one department with plans to take over all planning for the entire line.
  • I am starting to cross train for buying raw materials.

Question: What is the best way to ask for a salary adjustment? When might be the best time to do so?

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  • There's not much advise we can give you. Having a 3% raise is really not that bad... It's quite as your manager said, "you're performing well". This might be an indication that either you're not doing as well as you thought or your manager is unaware of your contributions. I've had a manager that just gave me a pat on the back and said I was performing well, he didn't know what I was doing and that was frustrating. Your bullet points should have been brought up during your performance review. If you weren't able to do that, conduct a private meeting with him. – user82352 Feb 26 '20 at 16:00
  • Bullet points were discussed during review. During my last annual review with him he made recommendations on next steps for me and that's what is taking place. I do not have a degree and he suggested I go to school. New VP of supply chain wants everyone to have CPIM, so I am in the process of obtaining that as well. Thanks for your comment. I understand 3% "isn't that bad" but I was hoping for more due to increased work load and constant drive to increase my knowledge while still maintaining current responsibilities. – Justice Feb 26 '20 at 16:06
  • It makes sense to try to get as much money as you can while trying to sound reasonable. I would have a private chat with your manager and ask him about how your raise was considered. You can say, "I was expecting more based on the list of items I have provided. Can you help me understand why this decision was made?" Your raise is really based on two things: Your manager's perspective of your performance and how much money your group brings into the company. Remember that managers talk to their managers about your raise and contributions and your VP, directors, etc. might disagree on your raise – user82352 Feb 26 '20 at 16:16
  • I got the 3% raise. I plan to have a discussion with my manager on a readjustment. – Justice Feb 26 '20 at 16:38
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    Thank you to everyone for the comments. I have set up a meeting and created a document that shows all of my achievements, what I'm doing outside of my current role, and how these help improve the bottom line for the company. I have also included a list of goals for myself this year so my manager knows exactly what to expect of me. – Justice Feb 28 '20 at 14:34
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It sounds like you may need to get yourself a little context in order to decide how (or if) you will present this to your boss.

Some companies have no standards or policies for raises, but many companies do. In those companies, salary increases generally come in one of two forms:

  • Annual increases as a result of performance reviews. These are often dictated by some formula that includes subjective factors from your review (i.e. there's a base rate of X, and if you score above average, you get X + 1, while if you score below average you get X - 1).
  • Increases as a result of promotions or job title/position changes. These often happen off-cycle (at any random point in time) and the raise is usually dictated by salary ranges or bands for the position you're moving in to (i.e. "Junior Janitor" has a 50k midpoint and "Senior Janitor" has a 60k midpoint, so you get a 10k increase when you change title).

Understanding if your company has these sorts of policies can be important, because it'll help you know what's possible. Of course, many companies with policies will occasionally make exceptions for unique cases, but that's not generally something you should count on.

Comparing this to your situation, you were told that you exceeded expectations, and you got a 3% increase. It may be the case that 3% is the highest increase that was budgeted for, and you've already received it, so there's really nothing you could have done differently this year, in terms of your annual review. Of course, that doesn't mean there's zero chance you can get a raise. But, the best way to approach this will likely be within the context of how things work in your company. Since none of us know that, a good first step is to get clarification on how raises work for your employer.

As a manager, I deliberately explain my company's framework for calculating raises to everyone on my team, every year. This helps avoid the ambiguity you're now dealing with. Since your manager hasn't done that, you should ask him to. You could phrase it like,

Hey boss, I'm happy to see that I got a 3% increase. However, I'd like to learn how increases are calculated, and how they're linked to our performance reviews, so I can better understand what to focus on in the future. Can you go over our scoring system with me so I can learn how it works?

Of course, that doesn't literally get you a bigger raise all on it's own, but it'll help you understand how the machine works at your employer, which will tell you what your next step is, depending on how your boss answers:

  • If your boss tells you that you're in the top category and 3% was the biggest raise that was budgeted for this year, well - you have your answer.
  • If your boss tells you that the raise is based on score, and "exceeds expectations" is a 4 out of 5, so you got 3% while people earning a 5 got 5%, you can bring up the points you've mentioned here again and ask your boss what you can focus on this coming year to have your best shot at getting a 5 out of 5 next year.

If the whole "annual increase based on performance reviews" concept doesn't satisfy your desire to be compensated for growth, you can always take this in a different direction - tell your boss you want to talk about career path and advancement:

Hey boss, after my performance review this year, I've been thinking about how I've grown as an employee. I feel like I'm handling my current job responsibilities really well, and I'm consistently getting positive feedback. To me, that indicates that I might be ready for a promotion soon. Can we talk about what my next steps could be? What other positions may be available, and what do I need to do to advance into them?

This way, your boss can help provide a road map for you to show that you're worth more than just 3% in the future.

And, regardless of which of the above paths you go down, you should try to make sure your boss knows you want to be engaged and discussing your growth regularly. Part of the problem with annual performance reviews is that they're annual. You end up with maybe a one hour window on a specific date, and other than that, your fate is sealed until next year. You can always suggest a different option to your boss,

Hey boss, I was hoping we could check in regularly throughout the year on how I'm advancing on the goals we set during my performance review. Can we meet monthly/quarterly to check in on my performance? I want to make sure I'm adjusting my focus as appropriate, so that there aren't any surprises next year during my review.

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    Thank you, I'm going to go with asking about my next steps and depending on the answer I will ask for regular meetings on career advancement. – Justice Feb 28 '20 at 15:15
  • In your opinion should I bring a document stating all achievements/goals/increased productivity to a meeting about promotion? I would also like advice on whether or not I should include expected salary on the document. – Justice Feb 28 '20 at 15:17
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    Bringing a document to the meeting is a great idea. It gives you something to hand your manager so they can take it away from the meeting and don't have to remember all the details. Asking for a specific raise is fine too, but it really depends on the context of the meeting. It might be a good first step to let your manager explain how raises/promotions work in the very first meeting, and then use a follow up to suggest a number based on what you learn. Of course, if you already have a drop-dead number in mind, it's fine to let your manager know that now. – dwizum Feb 28 '20 at 15:32
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    Thank you again, I appreciate the feedback and advice. – Justice Feb 28 '20 at 15:34

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