If the true measure of a person is how they act in the face of adversity, then how you react when you get turned down for a raise request speaks volumes. Look, no one likes rejection. It’s not easy mustering up the courage to put in a request for a raise in the form of a pay raise request letter, and potentially put your self-worth on the line. Doing your utmost to convince someone you’re worth it and then having your manager disagree isn’t an easy thing with which to cope. Once you’ve been turned down, you now run the risk of becoming bitter, detached, and disinterested at work – and that serves nobody.
If you’re asking for a raise it’s because you’re a professional, so make sure you act that way even in defeat. Here are seven tips that can help you along the way.
1) Stay Calm if Your Raise Request was Denied
It’s human nature to be livid when you get rejected. You’ve no doubt pleaded your case and backed up your argument with facts and personal accomplishments, so it’s only natural to be hurt and angry when you’re told it’s not good enough because many people think that translates into “I’m not good enough.”
But you’ve got to overcome that urge.
Getting heated and entering into a screaming match or argument with your manager isn’t going to do anyone any good. It puts your boss on the defensive and creates the potential for an uncomfortable work environment, while also painting you as unprofessional and incapable of dealing with adversity. So stay calm and soldier on no matter what.
2) Ask Why You Were not Given a Raise
Your boss said no, but the big question is why.
Let’s face it, there might be a really good reason you were turned down for a raise. Times are still pretty tough and depending on the size of your business, which industry you’re in, and current events the “we just don’t have it in the budget” excuse could hold water. But then again, sometimes it’s you and not them.
Perhaps you’re not meeting your goals or you’re succeeding but focusing on the wrong areas. Whatever the reason, figure it out and get it straight from the horse’s mouth so you can address it and show progress at your next performance review.
If you don’t know exactly what’s wrong, you’ll never be able to fix it.
3) Don't Become a Jerk
I know it’s tough, but if your boss says no please don’t stomp your feet, take all your toys, and go home.
Too many people become problem employees after they’ve been rejected because of hurt feelings. You already felt underappreciated which is why you asked for more money, and then you were denied that. Now morale is in the basement and you stop working hard because hey, what’s the point? You feel like you can’t get ahead so you start badmouthing the company every chance you get. Now you’re showing up late (or not at all), the quality of your work is suffering, and your new reputation is that of a poison pill.
No matter your profession, the greats learn from the things that don’t go their way and find a way to improve.
4) Focus on the Future
If you dwell on the past and on the negative you’ll never get what you want. So find a silver lining and use it.
Once you’ve figured out what went wrong and why you didn’t get the raise, formulate a plan to make sure you have a clear path to success. Work with your manager to ensure that you’re focusing on the right goals. Know where your priorities are so you don’t spend time working in the wrong area. As tough as the criticism is to hear, take it to heart and use it to guarantee you can’t be passed over again next time.
5) Request Ongoing Check-ins
Want to find a way to show you’re not suffering from sour grapes? Negotiate a time in the future to meet with your boss and revisit the issue of a raise.
Not only does this show your manager you don’t plan on becoming an at-risk employee, but you’re putting the rejection in your rearview and already working towards a more positive outcome in the future. Just make sure you actually get on your boss’ calendar because you don’t want to fall through the cracks.
6) Have a Contingency Plan
You have a 50/50 chance of getting the raise you want. So while you need to focus on the positive, you must also be prepared for the worst-case.
Far too many people forget that salary is not the only kind of compensation that can be negotiated during a job interview or performance review. Did your request for more money get rejected? Then how about negotiating the next best thing? You can try to add more vacation, tuition reimbursement, an earlier performance review, or the ability to work from home just to name a few. Perhaps your company isn’t in a position financially to give you more money, but a compromise is the next best thing.
7) Think About a New Job
Sometimes you either have a bad boss or a company that doesn’t value its workers. If that’s truly the case, it might be time to think about jumping ship.
This shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction or done in a fit of rage immediately after your raise request was denied. But if you’ve met all your goals and you’re a consistent top-performer who has been denied raises and opportunities for advancement for no good reason, then you have to do what’s best for you and that might mean moving to a new opportunity.
Not quite ready to ask for a raise but interested in planning your career path? Here are some tools to help you along the way: