I just received my first paycheck after my company's annual merit based raises went out this year. A few months ago we did self evaluations and had reviews with our supervisors to discuss them. These reviews/evaluations directly related to how much of a raise we would get. My review was glowing. Not a single point was brought up against me in any capacity and my "addition to the company has greatly improved the efficiency of the team and the global studio as a whole."

This was reflected, however, in a very small raise.
For a little background, I work for a company that has 3 large locations globally, 2 of which are in the US. I am the only person in my position at my location, but our department (software) frequently works closely with the other offices since company software is something of a global effort. After speaking with my colleagues in my position in the other office, I found out that I am not only the most senior person in this role, I am also the least paid (and I happen to be living in the location that has a higher cost of living).

I thought if the raises had some sort of cap, or if there was a reason why my raise was so low, it would be justifiable. But given the facts, this seems to be an issue that I should bring up to my supervisor. I'm just not sure how to bring it up in a way that doesn't seem ungrateful for the raise that was already given, etc. How does one start this type of conversation without seeming too aggressive? Or is aggressive what I should go for? Should we just talk about it and see where the chips fall, or should I be giving a hard number? Maybe 'aggressive' is poor word choice. I just feel like I am underappreciated now given the circumstances.
More background: this is my first "real" job and I've only ever had salary discussions during the hiring process for this same job.

  • 1
    What is very small? less than 2%?
    – Herb
    Mar 19 '17 at 22:42
  • 4
    @HerbWolfe 3.5%. To add some information though, I am an hourly employee, and this equated to a raise of less than $1/hr. As one of my colleagues put it "when the pay rate is so low, its less about the % than it is about the rate itself."
    – tnh16
    Mar 19 '17 at 23:01
  • 1
    Actually, that's a pretty decent raise, %age wise. A typical range is 1-5%, with 3 being average. As an hourly employee as well, I've gotten less than that the last couple of years.
    – Herb
    Mar 19 '17 at 23:06
  • @HerbWolfe Thanks for the insight. I suppose this might then come down to: am I being selfish/greedy wanting more? I figure based on my flawless review and my seniority/experience, I should at least be matching my colleagues. Or is that immaterial? The range of raises that my colleagues received was 4-20%. They all deserve it, but as you say, 20% seems far outside the norm, and I believe this was done to get their rate in line with where it should be. On one hand I feel justified in wanting the same rate if I've been doing such a great job. On the other hand, I feel somewhat... petty(?).
    – tnh16
    Mar 19 '17 at 23:24
  • 2
    @ThomasOwens I've been at my company just over a year, and yes, this is my first raise. I actually accepted an offer that was initially higher than my colleagues starting salaries. With that, I could understand if they had gotten a larger raise %wise to make up the difference. But if we are performing at similar excellent levels, as indicated with our reviews, shouldn't raises be moderately linear across the board? I am less interested in 'why' it may have happened, as I presume my supervisor will enlighten me when we talk. Moreso I'm interested in how to best broach this topic tactfully.
    – tnh16
    Mar 20 '17 at 1:33

Go to your boss's office preferable on a Friday and preferably when he hasn't had a bad day (if you can determine that). Assuming your boss is named "Joe", then I would knock, walk into his office toward the end of the day and say, "Hey, Joe, if you're not to busy do you have a moment to talk?" Assuming he says "Yes" then say. "Its about my recent pay raise. I feel I have improved and helped the company much by [state all your accomplishments] and I am a senior member of the staff. Do you think you can help me out here and reward me with a higher raise? [have a percentage or dollar amount in mind just in case he asks how much].

All he can do is say "no" to which you say "thank you" for taking the time to talk to you.

If he says "no" that he's busy, try again next Friday.

Like it has been said, if you don't ask, they won't give it to you. Hope that helps.


You are mixing up two different things.

1) Your annual raise.
2) Your hourly wage.

You were not content with your hourly wage in comparison to your co-workers, expected the raise to fix it and were disappointed that it didn't.

This is not how it works. The person deciding the annual raise might not even have a clue about your hourly wage or your performance. The annual raise is also usually not used to diminish offsets between co-workers (quite the contrary, percentage-based raises increase the offset). There is also usually no clear-cut correlation between a review and the percentage value over the years - if it's a good year for the company, raises will be better, if it's a bad year raises will be lower (if at all), no matter what your individual performance was.

3.5% for one year is a decent raise.

Now - that your hourly wage is lower than that of your co-workers is a completely separate issue and you should handle it like a separate issue.


You need to use a POSITIVE approach.

"Mr Boss, thank you for the raise I received this year. What can I do going forward to get at least that much - or even better - more next year?"

That way, instead of coming across as complaining, you come across as wanting to improve.

That should be enough to open the conversation as to how raises are determined and how they are distributed, giving you a chance to ask questions, etc.

  • It seems to me that the question was about getting a better raise this year already. Your answer is fine in a more long-term approach, but does not directly answer the problem of preparing a discussion about the current rate.
    – Thalantas
    Mar 21 '17 at 10:51
  • @Thalantas - The OP believes his raise is lower than what it should be. He is looking for a way to discuss this with his boss. The approach outlined above opens the door to that conversation. By making it neutral (talking about a raise in the future) the boss will not feel the OP is complaining. As they talk about how raises are done, the OP may find out that what he got this year is standard for an excellent employee. Or, he may find out that it is not and he can question it within the context of raises in general, and thus avoid appearing to be a complainer.
    – user45269
    Mar 21 '17 at 12:37

You can't get something if you don't ask for it. If you think you deserve more money, ask for it. All they do is say no.

If you allow yourself to be undervalued, it will affect your work performance and your attitude towards the firm you are working for. They are just being businessmen, trying to get by as cheaply as they can, but if they value your contribution, you have a good chance of being rewarded.

But only if you ask first.


Before anything else, this is a sales question. There are tons of variables. Is your direct superior able to approve a raise without sending it to a committee for approval? If not, who is? Before we can find the right raise strategy for you, we need to figure out a few things. How do we convince someone in power to use their political capital to get you a raise? How do we simplify the process if needed to get the person in power through red tape easily? Is the company culture data/process driven or intuition/relationship driven? Based on these and related questions, the answer most likely to succeed in getting you a raise is different.

There are also two reasons you've implied to want additional pay; you need more financial freedom to do your best work or your contribution is not reflected in the pay. Do as a salesperson does. Analyze the situation, find the right strategy, and go for the close.

If your organization is data driven, look for metrics that prove out your value and show on paper the discrepancy between your portion of the output and the reflected pay. If the organization does what 'feels right,' wait while you work on a big win. On the day everyone is celebrating, pull the boss aside. Whichever way you went, put pressure on them based on the reason for increase you want to push. Boss, I'm killing it; just imagine what I could do if I could devote more energy to helping the business succeed instead of worrying as much about bills." "Boss, the numbers show I'm a top performer. How can you help me get my pay to reflect that?"

Find your strategy. Put the pieces together. Regardless, make sure that whatever strategy you go with aligns with yourself, your superior, and your company. Your recent win or documented record of past value can be a tool for them to argue on your behalf. If it takes them a while, it doesn't hurt to personally intervene and make an impression on the red tape people. Good luck!

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