Get To Work: With Suzy Welch

Suzy Welch: Here's the exact right way to ask for a raise

Asking your boss for a raise can be nerve-racking. When should you ask, and how much is appropriate? Should you request a specific amount, or rely on your boss to arrive at the right number?

Bestselling author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch says that with the right game plan in place, asking for a raise doesn't have to be cause for a stomachache.

"You've got a lot of competition, and your boss has a limited budget," Welch tells CNBC Make It. "So how do you get heard — and get a 'yes?'"

The key, Welch says, is an approach that includes research and emphasizes your achievements. She advises any professional who's thinking about asking for a raise to follow these three steps:

Bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch.
Bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch.

1. Time your request appropriately

Before requesting a higher salary, Welch says to consider asking yourself the following questions first:

  • Have you recently received a positive performance review?
  • Have you delivered a big win or been given more responsibility?
  • Are you confident your company is financially secure?
  • Do you know how your current salary stacks up — or doesn't — against your job's pay range?

Welch says asking yourself these questions will prevent you from making an impulsive request that isn't backed by knowledge.

"Note, this checklist does not include asking for a raise because you just heard the guy in the next cubicle is making $5,000 more than you," she says. "Impulse and outrage asks are almost always non-starters."

2. Prove your case

The next step is to schedule a meeting with your boss that signals, "I'd like a serious discussion with you."

In this meeting, be sure to show just how prepared you are with documentation that justifies why you should get a raise.

"You're a lawyer at this point," says Welch. "Prove your value to the business with your achievements and results."

If you're asking for an exact amount, she says knowing the comparable pay range in your company and field can be a huge help to making your point. And if your need for a raise is linked to a personal event, Welch recommends leaving that out of the conversation. Ultimately, it's not relevant to what you've achieved.

"People often bring up their mortgage, their new car payment," she says. "Focus on why you deserve a raise — not why you need it."

3. Establish a time-frame for next steps 

It's rare that your boss will answer your request on the spot. To ensure that you aren't left with an unanswered question, Welch says you should end your meeting by asking when you can expect to hear back.

"If you thought asking for a raise was an awkward conversation, following up without a time-frame is even worse," she adds.

And finally, while you want to sound natural, preparation is key. Welch emphasizes that it's never a good idea to improvise. To increase your chances of getting the response you want, she says to "follow this game plan, and execute like the winner you are."

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker.

Video by Richard Washington

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