Go get that pay rise - you know you deserve it

You've got to impress to get more cash in the modern workplace, writes Wilf Altman
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The Independent Online
The rules for seeking a salary rise are changing. There was a time when flexing your muscles, marching confidently into the boss's office reminding him of your diligence and application and asking outright for a pay rise stood a chance of a favourable response. Today it needs a strategy, careful planning and psychological timing.

You might think you deserve more pay - and you certainly need it - but can you honestly say you are adding value to the organisation? Adding value is the great new paradigm impacting on every aspect of business.

Automatic annual salary reviews and salary rises are just no longer the fashion. More than ever they depend on personal and company performance. If you know you are really beating targets you might be considered for a one-off bonus or promotion which qualifies you for a pay hike.

A strategic approach to the problem has to start with a brutal self-assessment of what you are actually contributing to the enterprise. It's not only about the job you are paid to do. Can you say, hand on heart, that you do more than the call of duty? Are you benefiting the brand, with clever ideas for brand extensions, new ideas and new promotions? Are you making a social contribution, playing in the firm's cricket, football or netball teams, charming important customers, winning new deals, helping the firm's favourite charity?

Are you building up your persona outside the company, becoming involved in your professional or trade association; and inside the company, sitting on committees, contributing to the house magazine and to internal discussions and debates?

It's obviously a good idea to raise your profile internally, to voice constructive views and to become involved in the house magazine.

I once knew a salesman who responded to one of his directors' appeals for contributions to the house journal and finished up on the board. How? By persuading a journalist friend to provide smart ideas and help with the articles. The director, who chaired the editorial committee, was impressed. A few more contributions and the salesman found himself invited to join the editorial team and before long he was promoted first as regional sales manager, then national sales manager and finally on to the board.

When embarking on a salary rise campaign, it should pay to build your strategy around the following:

n Establish exactly when internal budgets and bonuses are decided.

n Give yourself up to three months to make a strong impact, create a new impression on your immediate superiors.

n Additionally, take on a fresh project and carry it through successfully.

n Be seen afresh as a "can do" person and take on more responsibility.

n Research the market to assess what sort of financial packages your peers receive elsewhere. This may be difficult, but it can be done with the help of recruitment consultants.

n Think of a big idea, the real stunner likely to enhance the company's performance and profit - and your standing.

n Develop a new personal style which combines humour, intellectual rigour plus super application.

n Show your bosses how good you are at communicating effectively, by exercising brevity, saying in half a page or bullet points what might have taken two pages of conventional narrative and package the message in easy-to-digest bite-sized chunks without any waffle.

n If a more senior post is being advertised internally at a higher salary and you know you can handle it - hit the ground running: go for it!

n If all else fails, consider a spot of cross-functioning or multi- skilling. It's always a good plan, recruiters say, to develop skills outside one's core skill set. Cross-functioning is about being able to move comfortably from, say finance to marketing, or from retailing to manufacturing.

In today's fast-changing, less hierarchical business environment it pays to know how to "talk the talk and walk the walk". It's also worth keeping in mind advice attributed to Sir Dominic Cadbury. "Today you need to map out your own destiny: no else will do it for you. There is no such thing as a career path nowadays. It's crazy paving and you have to lay it yourself."