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So You Want a Raise: How to Go from Yearning to Earning

Marilyn Schoeman Dow



You do great work. You're a real team player and give the company 110% . You are known as a highly productive person. Now you would like official recognition - in the form of a raise.

Everybody is overloaded and crunched for time so see yourself as a partner in this process- the senior partner. Since you are initiating the raise issue, take on the task of demonstrating value. Show how you have earned the raise and how it can be handled. What we have here, folks, is a sales situation. So devise your strategy and create a sales campaign.


Provide evidence to show why you deserve a raise. What do you bring to their party? Obtain and provide copies of "kudos" letters from people delighted with your service and skill. What challenges did you meet exceptionally well? What results can you show that vividly portray your vital contribution? No one really wants to give you a raise just because you have been there five years or because you just do your job. Employers also don't like to give raises to Humpty Grumpties. They do enjoy rewarding pleasant and productive people - especially self-starters - initiators.


You may need to justify the salary increase as well as show how it can be funded. Think creatively: "How might I increase the rewards from my work - for me and my firm? ". Maybe you can create a project or take on tasks with a current project.

Maybe you can be re-classified, with a different title and special duties to fill a unique niche. That eliminates the need to give a raise to a whole category of people. You may need to address policies, procedures and issues. Make it easy to see why you deserve a raise and how it can be granted.


Act Green to produce the best possible results - with this challenge and every other one you face. The Green Light style is one of optimism, confidence and ACTION. It's creative, innovative, productive and exciting.

Green Lighters possess a can-do attitude. They keep their mental foot on the accelerator. They move forward almost automatically, making adjustments as conditions warrant. Green Lighters ask, "How can we make it work?" Red Lighters ask, "Can it work?" and almost instantly hear, "No."


Apply the Green Light style to getting a raise. In this sales situation, think, "How might I sell the idea?" Avoid a hit-and-run accident. You've got a hit - the winning idea of a raise . Don't run away and leave it alone. Rarely do ideas take on a life of their own. Someone must pump life into them. Guess who.

Green Lighters make it easy for management to see the need, the justification and the feasibility of the compensation plan. Cut the chance of striking out. Hit the homer! You earn points when you touch all the bases.

First base - Show value/benefit.
Second base - Give suggestion/option.
Third base - Explain/validate.
Home plate - Request/plan.

You are on base with the raise - by showing how you earned it and the benefits you bring to the company. Head for second with your suggestions about what form your raise might take. Round the corner to third with details and verification about how this is workable. Bring it all home with your request and the plan showing how it can be handled. Score one for your superb ACTION plan.


Go beyond the usual limits and perceptions. Use Green Light® to break unnecessary boundaries of standard practice and standard expectations. Above, raise meant more than just movement on a schedule. Now look at raise (salary) differently - as a boost (non-salary).







Explore creative options. Assume the budget doesn't have the necessary funds available to grant the raise you so richly deserve. That doesn't tax your brain, does it?! What alternatives come to mind? What else might you desire - a parking space? an enhanced work area? a promotion? more vacation? stock?

Consider flexibility in your schedule. What about conference attendance - or presenting at a conference, with your fees paid? How about training that can be provided? What about covering college courses or continuing education credits?

Seek management's help with your career - with mentors, introductions to key people, placement on vital project teams. How about lunch or dinner with visiting dignitaries and corporate leaders? What about conducting research on a topic - or in a location - of interest to you? Continue Green Lighting. Examine other win/win ways to get a boost and to serve your company.


What can you do - beyond your job description - that helps the company ? Discover how you might creatively develop other ways to bring value to the organization. Think about what might build morale, increase the fun or reduce the tension in the office. How might you foster a feeling of unity, of teamwork, of partnering?


Offer to develop expertise in an area critical to the company. Perhaps an emerging technology is likely to affect your firm and you can help prepare for its early application. and impact. Study a market segment that might become a niche. Research a potential new competitor or revenue source. Share the information with your manager.

Write articles for trade publications. You can then reprint them for PR purposes . Depending on the focus, they can be used as a public service, to send to clients and prospects and add to your portfolio - tangible evidence of your unique and valued contributions.

Discover what falls between the cracks and causes problems or conflicts. What are the little things that bug people, that aren't a part of anyone's job but need to be done anyway? As a Green Lighter, find and create opportunities to serve and to problem solve. Pass on information and creative solutions to company challenges.


Ask yourself, "How might I increase the rewards from my work - for me and for my company?" Read about your industry and discuss it with management. That shows them you have a handle on the field and care about the firm, not just your job. Collect and create ideas. Don't limit them to your own department or function. Think how you might:

  - generate quality leads - cut operating costs
  - enhance client service - enhance proposals
  - negotiate more effectively - build strategic alliances
  - improve proposal presentations - increase the net profits
  - conduct new market research - market more creatively.


Connect to your areas of passion and get involved in local service groups. This is not only good for your community, it is good PR for you and your company. While you are giving of yourself, seek to develop skills, contacts and ideas that can be used at work. Tell your employer about your volunteer efforts. You might mention that you meet people (managers/partners) from other companies there. Since others see your talents too, people may be thinking about your value and availability.


Join associations that serve your field. Get active. Take on a leadership role. You build skills and knowledge, get experience and exposure - and so does your firm. (It could even mean gilt - by association!)


Build your network base methodically. Identify categories of people you are missing in your network and find people to fill that void. Share your information with them and in return ask about referrals, trends, and novel and effective strategies they hear about.

Phil Crosby, guru of quality, states, "I've been broke but I've never been poor. Poor is in your head. Broke is in your pocket. " Green Lighters may be broke but not poor. They probably won't be broke for long either!

So you want a raise. Which color is your style?

RED-LIGHTER: "Never mind! Just gimme the cash.
GREEN LIGHTER: "How might I apply this?"

The color of your action often determines how long - and how bright - your future is. (A Green Lighter in transition applies the same style to finding or creating a project or a position.) While the red lighter yearns, the Green Lighter earns - and frequently receives - the raise - and the boosts.

Even without a raise - or non-salary boosts - by enacting some of these strategies, the Green Lighter gains. Significant growth - personal and professional - creates a more satisfying work situation. It also yields keys to doors previously locked, probably even hidden.

If you are an enlightened employer, you deserve salutes for reading this article. Perhaps you plan to pass it on to a highly valued employee - the one who has earned a raise but might not get one without the plan you don't have time to develop. (Maybe you will use it to get a raise yourself and create a campaign for your partners.)

If you are an outstanding employee, you deserve salutes for your Green Light style. It prompted you to check out these ideas. Share them with selected people who know you and your company - and want you to succeed. Ask them about the best ways to apply the strategies in your campaign for a raise.

Congratulations on designing your own career enhancement. By assuming responsibility for its direction, you help assure the best possible outcomes. As a Green Lighter, you're ready. You're set. The light is green. GO for it!


Owner of ThinkLink and past-president of the American Creativity Association, Marilyn promotes innovative action, teambuilding and managing change in keynotes, coaching and seminars. Her products include BOFF-O!® (Brain On Fast Forward) problem solving deck/system.

For information about presentations and strategizing sessions, contact Ms. Dow at ThinkLink in Seattle, WA by email or by calling 206-200-7212

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