What To Do When You Don't Get A Raise

Updated: Jul 1


Annual reviews normally take place in January. But we’re giving you a little head start to prepare for the eventual conversation of asking for a raise and it doesn’t go the way you expected it to. Let’s set the scene, you enter the meeting with your boss armed with a list of reasons why you deserve a salary increase. These reasons could be any of the following; you’ve taken on extra responsibilities, you excelled in your current role, the major project you recently spearheaded, and the consistently positive feedback you’ve received from your clients, colleagues, managers over the past year.


You’ve made your case for the raise but then you’re crushed to hear your supervisor say, “I’m sorry, but we’re not able to adjust your salary at this point. Check back in six months, and keep up the good work.” The sting of rejection is a painful one. So, while you’re evaluating your next step - whether that’s to start looking for a new position, making a plan to develop a new skill you need, or just waiting - it’s important to maintain your motivation and press forward as eagerly as, if not more than, you did before. But let’s face it: No matter how hard you try to put on a good face, staying motivated can be tough. So, here are a few steps to keep up the momentum after getting “no” for an answer.


Step One


Try to understand the external factors and pressures your supervisor is facing. If you didn’t get a clear reason for the “no” at the initial meeting, be sure to follow up to get a better understanding. Another tip would be to ask open-ended questions such as, “What’s contributing to your decision?” during the conversation - you’ll understand and learn more about the situation rather than asking close-ended questions.


Understanding how the decision-makers view the situation will give you a clearer idea of what went into their decision and can ultimately help you get what you want faster.


Step Two


Now that you’ve understood your manager’s pain points, you’re in a good position to come up with alternatives that he or she may be more agreeable to. To do this effectively, start by communicating your awareness of the situation to your boss - either during the initial meeting or in a follow-up note - so that your manager knows you understand where he or she is coming from.


Step Three


Moving forward, using the knowledge you now possess about why your request was denied and had shown that you understand and empathize with your manager’s reasoning, channel your actions toward being an indispensable, unforgettable team member. Try your best to anticipate your boss’s needs before he or she asks or go the extra mile to deliver top results that will make the entire team look good.


Step Four


Approach every step moving forward like an individual project. It’s a much easier way to stay motivated if you’re working toward a small goal, such as signing a new client within the next month, rather than a large one, or increasing sales by 20% over the next quarter. Setting attainable yet challenging goals will help you focus on one activity at a time - and, more importantly, will fuel your fire to achieve success.


Every time you hit a milestone, recognize your progress with a small reward, like a bottle of your favorite beverage. Building on and celebrating each small goal will help you maintain steam as you progress. Following these steps will allow you to stay motivated so that a “no” answer becomes less painful and represents optimism and opportunity, rather than an ending.

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