Recently I have met my manager to ask him a significant raise. I based my demand on:

  • HR guidelines for the level of my position and
  • what I have seen in the industry on payscale and glassdoor.

I have underlined my recent achievements and said I thought this salary adjustment was needed in order for it to make sense. The raise I asked is about a 15% increase of my current salary. Currently, my salary is in the "development" range as stated by HR guidelines, which is stated to be "only for short term" and what I asked constitutes a salary in the middle range of the guidelines.

My manager looked very surprised, told me this was a significant amount and reminded me that regular annual raises are around 2%.

My question is: is it considered legitimate to base salary increase demands on HR guidelines / demand a bigger raise in order to match the market ?

I'm not sure if I did something wrong. My manager seemed to find it unreasonable but told me he would not give me his final decision until next month when the annual salary raises will be given to all employees.

Relevant info: My manager is very satisfied with my work and has told me so a couple of times recently. We have no history of conflict whatsoever and I have no reason to believe he likes me or not. Also, this is the first time I ever ask for a raise and I have worked in this department for two years.

Edit:

The HR guidelines I am talking about are salary ranges according to 5 different stages and for each level. The phases are

  • Development (new employee, needs a lot of supervision),
  • A (employee needs more supervision than normal),
  • B (employee needs regular supervision),
  • C (employee needs little supervision),
  • Exceptional (contribution far exceeds expectation for level).

There is a range for each stage. The salary I asked is exactly the middle of the B range. I have been in the "development" range for a year even though I bring a lot of new ideas to the department and technical skills equal to or above those of my colleagues (recognized by my colleagues and by my manager).

  • 3
    What you did is entirely legitimate. However that doesn't mean your manager will respond positively to it. I've seen managers react with anger and outright hostility in similar cases, even when dealing not with internal HR guidelines but with legally mandated minimum wages. – aroth Apr 28 '14 at 1:47
  • An annual raise of 2% is not a raise. In most developed economies that would barely keep up with inflation (or be significantly less), it is certainly no reward for getting better at your job. But you need to demonstrate that you are in fact getting better in measurable ways. – AdamV Dec 4 at 9:56
up vote 8 down vote accepted

You asked:

Is it considered legitimate to base salary increase demands on HR guidelines / demand a bigger raise in order to match the market ?

The answer is yes. This is business. From the way you've described your company's salary range system, your company has invested quite a lot of HR effor and probably money in working out a compensation plan. So, as a company they care about paying people fairly.

It sounds like you've done your homework and made your case for a salary adjustment. Note: you're asking for an adjustment, not a routine yearly raise.

I have one concern: your use of the word demand. Be careful thinking that way. In US culture, that's a harsh word. A lot of supervisors (including yours) take it personally even when their employees politely ask for more money. If you demand it, you may make your manager even more defensive. That's not going to help.

You want your manager to be able to take credit with his boss and co-workers for having a successful and highly paid team. So try to figure out how to enlist him as your ally in getting this adjustment.

  • 1
    Noted the "demand" part. We speak French at work which is my native language so this was not an issue. – ApplePie Apr 28 '14 at 3:02
  • 2
    +1 This is definitely an adjustment to align your salary with company standards; you aren't asking for the 15% based on performance. You might consider following up to emphasize this. – Chip Apr 28 '14 at 5:49
  • Another thing to keep in mind: By making this request for a salary adjustment, you are asking your supervisor to appeal for a change to the salary budget of the company. He probably has a budget for ordinary raises that amounts to some percentage of the total salary in his department. So he can't honor your request on his own authority without reducing the raises of your colleagues. That's why he too has to appeal for an increase to his budget. So, please be patient. – O. Jones Apr 28 '14 at 11:33

As others have said, requesting an adjustment is perfectly fine in this situation. I would like to add a few things, though.

First, make sure that your boss agrees with you about which phase you're in. You say you are in phase B - does he agree with this? This should be your first concern, since the pay scale is set depending on which phase you're in.

If he disagrees and says that you are still in phase A, or even Development, your next step is to have a meeting with him figure out what it is he thinks you should be doing that you are not (yet) doing. He should be able to be specific here. This meeting should result in a checklist of things that you need to do in order to be considered phase B instead of A or Devel.

This list is your most important negotiating tool. You need to make sure that you actually do the things he wants you to do; you need to have documentation to back it up and you need to have him agree that you have done those things. You should follow up regularly (whether by email or by meetings) to verify that the two of you are in agreement on what you have done and how close you are to completing the things on the checklist. If you need to change the check list, perhaps because you are ordered to focus on a different project instead of the one on your check list, you need to have an agreement with him that the new project is the one that counts towards your goal.

Within a year, the two of you should agree that you are now in phase B. Once that is done, and you have that signed, that is the time that you bring up salary adjustment again - because now he cannot argue that you don't fulfill the requirements to be in that salary range.

If, instead, he agrees that you are already in phase B, but he's still unwilling to adjust your pay, then you can contact HR and ask the what the procedure is to have an adjustment. Only do this if you are prepare to handle any fallout from his perceiving you to be "going over his head" on this.

It sounds like you've asked for a raise in exactly the right manner, as set out by HR.

Your manager may not want to give you the raise, because it's always nice to save money.

The truth is - if the manager wants to give you a raise, he can.

He may think that he can simply get away with not giving you the (decent) raise. It's concerning that you've apparently been on a development range for two years - perhaps just because you haven't pushed for a raise before that.

Some advice given to me, was 'The best time to ask for a raise, is when they think you're about to leave'. This worked for me, at about the time my raise was being considered, I emailed my manager outlining some issues our process and environment. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but about a week later, my raise which had been taking ages came through, and was a decent amount.

My advice is to start looking at other jobs, attend interviews, negotiate salaries etc, this will give you a good perspective on how much you're really worth, and you can take it from there, what you want to do with that knowledge for your current role; you can say 'Well look, I've been offered a job at $xxx', or you might simply decide it's time to move on from your current role.

Attending interviews will give you confidence about your own value and also give you a good picture of what's out there.

My question is: is it considered legitimate to base salary increase demands on HR guidelines / demand a bigger raise in order to match the market ?

In my experience, market correction in salaries (upwards or downwards) is purely a management decision and is usually exercised company wide. Although I am not particularly sure what HR guidelines you are considering, however, as long as your data points are cohesive and relative, you initiating the exercise is definitely legitimate.

  • See my edit for the HR guidelines. – ApplePie Apr 28 '14 at 1:45
  • ...[A] market correction in salaries (upwards or downwards) is purely a management decision... Ha! It almost never is. It almost always is a function of you sensing the market correction and leaving to seize the bump in pay! – Jim G. Apr 28 '14 at 1:51
  • @JimG.Sure ! Jumping ship is one option. But may not be possible every time. – happybuddha Apr 28 '14 at 2:09

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