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Sloan the DEV Moderator
Sloan the DEV Moderator

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Do I wait until performance review time or bring it up now?

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write. Email if you'd like to leave an anonymous comment.

"I've been doing a really good job lately. I've had feedback from my manager and my managers-manager that I've exceeded expectations and gone above and beyond over the last year. While the compliments and shout outs at stand-ups are great to hear, our team culture is excellent, I'd like to approach my manager about a raise to go along with it. I'm in a newly created role, where they didn't know what the role would be in a years time, and here we are.

I like the people I work with and believe that my manager is working in my best interests, but I'd like to ask for an increase to reflect my good work. Do I wait until performance review time in three months and hope that I get what I'm hoping for, or bring it up now? How do I approach this conversation without sounding greedy, braggy and potentially asking for too much, leaving a bad impression when I'm on such a roll?"

Top comments (9)

kunde21 profile image
Chad Kunde

For the love of all that compiles, do NOT wait for the scheduled performance review. Think of that as your backstop, which you can turn into an implicit promise if needed.

Your manager is working in the best interests of the team and of themselves. I promise that they haven't been thinking about your paycheck much, if at all. It's up to you to ensure your career there benefits you properly. Especially since this is a new position, you have a lot more leeway to establish its value to the company, too.

Ask your manager to grab lunch with you, to get out of the office, or ask them if they have a quick moment to talk. Don't be too formal about it, as that's just adding stress and anxiety to yourself. Then be honest, "Hey $MANAGER, I've been crushing this as $JOB_TITLE, but I don't think the compensation matches the value I bring, anymore. We didn't have a good vision of what it would be a year ago, so can we review my salary now that the position has been established?"

A bit of additional advise, ask for more than you think. Take the raise you want to ask for, multiply it by ~1.5x, then don't settle for less than 1.1x of that amount. You're not taking money from your manager's pocket by getting a raise; it's a business discussion about a business agreement.

If your manager balks and tries to low-ball, that's when you use the fallback of the performance review: "Okay, if we can't get the $JOB_TITLE salary aligned with the responsibilities now, we can discuss $EXPECTED_RAISE * 1.75 at the performance review. Thanks for your time." This is no different from other business deals in that the value is expected to increase as time passes, so don't treat it any differently.

Seriously, though, your manager shouldn't have a problem discussing and setting your raise schedule outside of the set performance review meeting. The most difficult part is starting that conversation with them, and you're entirely in control of that part.

zspencer profile image

Hopping in to say:

1) Chads post is full of excellent advice! Especially the part about treating the negotiation like a business agreement.
2) There are some super useful things to keep in mind when it comes to talking business with your boss.

First: Be aware of information assymetry. Information asymmetry is when you and the other side of the negotiation table have different bits of information that are relevant to the agreement you are trying to make. Information asymmetry, in my experience, leads to resentment on either side. For instance, you may think that work X or Y that you're doing is more valuable to the business than the business thinks it is. Or perhaps your understanding of what level you are performing at is misaligned with your bosses. Even more likely, your boss may have visibility into what other people working at your level within the organization are earning and you, unfortunately, may not.

Second: Take the time to find out if there is anything in writing that details what you should be doing to move your formal title or level up within your organization and what kind of compensation you should expect at that level. If your boss doesn't have that written down, it's likely because they are overworked and the organization hasn't prioritized that part of the responsibilities of management. In that case, fall back on whisper networks. If you have someone in the org that you feel you have vaguely the same level of skills and abilities and experience; you can ask them what they earn. Legally, your company cannot retaliate for discussing wages. Illegally, however, they may do so; so weigh how much you trust your organization isn't actively attempting to suppress wages.

Third: Your boss is measured on their performance using particular metrics or goals. Know what those are before beginning any compensation conversation. Spend your time talking about how you've helped them achieve the goals that are important to them — everyone values someone who is the wind beneath their wings.

Fourth: Leverage! The best deals are where everyone gets something they want or need without giving up too much of something they value. Is there anything you can offer that your boss wants that isn't a huge cost for you? Try to navigate the conversation toward those opportunities where possible. Paint a picture for them of a better life. Then stick the landing — ask them for what you want. "If I were to take that on I think I'd need to see an increase in my role and compensation; as it increases my responsibilities significantly." Hopefully, this framing shifts your boss from the role of "Gatekeeper of the finance and ops" to "buyer of risen value."

Fifth: Avoid putting them on the defensive. Yes, you can threaten to find another job. Hell, it may be what's necessary to get the organization to move if you feel undervalued. But really, a defensive negotiator is not going to be as willing to give up the things you need. Being grumpy and unhappy is a natural result of feeling under-valued. Try to compartmentalize it; not because it's an invalid feeling; but because unless you're already incredibly highly valued by the organization, it's not going to shift them towards you getting what you want.

Negotiations are hard and fraught with stress. The fact that you're asking about how to approach it is a substantial first step on the path to advancing your career. Good luck!

_west_on profile image

The 1.1x made me chuckle "I want 10,000, I won't settle for less than 11,000."

isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman

First of all, if you don't think you're making enough money, you're probably right. It's not selfish or greedy at all for you to ask for a raise, any more than it's selfish or greedy for the company to expect you to get better at your job over time. And one thing you should do immediately is go interview at a couple of other places to get an idea of how much your skills are worth in the local market.

Second, as others have said, do not wait for the review. That gives your employer an easy way out: they can say "we'd love to give you a raise if you could meet the criteria, which are X and Y. Unfortunately you don't meet Y and we only give raises at performance review time, so work on that and we'll talk next year." If you talk to your boss now and make sure you understand the criteria for raises, you've got a couple of months to do great work and document it so you have plenty of proof to show your boss when the performance review comes along, ensuring they don't have a leg to stand on for denying you a raise.

Last, be ready to change jobs. A company that refuses to pay you what you're worth is a hostile environment. How would they feel if you refused to use all the knowledge and skills you've accumulated? Imagine telling your boss, "I really appreciate my salary and you're doing a great job paying me, but unfortunately you don't meet my criteria for working 40 hours a week; also, I can only work at the level of a beginner until I get a raise and more benefits." That probably wouldn't go over well. So be prepared to recognize that the company is exploiting you and jump ship. And don't let unvested stock options stop you--they're probably worthless. (Sorry.)

In a two-way business relationship, like your job, it's up to you to look after your own best interest and not feel bad about it.

ahmedmusallam profile image
Ahmed Musallam • Edited

All above comments are great. My advice is the same! Do not wait and ask for it right away.

Your post implies that you are not being greedy or asking for something you do not deserve. So just go for it!

I remember a couple years ago I was in the same boat, and it was extremely nerve-wrecking but I am so glad I did it! And I am sure you will be as well!

I wrote a post about my experience here:

If your company truely values you, they would invest in you! Period. Complements are free and abundant, cash isn’t.

You should ask and you should not take answers like “budget” or “bad timing” or “later” or a “structured raise”. Companies always have money for these kind of situations and they should invest in you if they want you to stick around.

Lastly, and needless to say, be respectful and approach your manager in a non-threatening way. Be very clear about what you’re asking for. Have a set specific number and if they counter, stand your ground or ask for time to think about it. You don’t have to say yes on the spot.

All the best and hopefully you get it!!

emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨

You HAVE to bring it up now. When I was at IBM I asked my manager what I could do to achieve a promotion. Unfortunately the answer was vague and unhelpful, ultimately leading me to leave the company. It didn't feel like they appreciated me, so I was happy to find that out sooner rather than later. If a company doesn't respect you or your work, they don't deserve to have you!

craignicol profile image
Craig Nicol (he/him)

Definitely don't wait. I don't know what the structure is like where you are, but some companies require evidence to support pay rises and promotions. If you talk to your manager now, you can work together to ensure all the evidence is ready for 3 months time, if not sooner.

phantomread profile image

There is no such thing called "greedy" when it comes to salary raise, you do the best you can and get as much as you can.

DO NOT wait and bring it up as early as possible.

BUT, phrase it and paint it well, there are plenty of books/advice online about how to ask for a pay raise - have a read.

sandordargo profile image
Sandor Dargo

In short, don't wait. By that time, things might be already decided. Bring it up before. Good luck!