When you’re an employee, it can be daunting going to your boss to ask for something, especially if you’re not used to speaking up. However, there is a right way to approach your boss for them to consider your needs. We gathered some knowledge from the talented Amanda Augustine, the resident careers expert for Talent Inc.’s suite of brands: TopCV, TopInterview and TopResume. She has more than 15 years of experience in the recruiting and career-advice industry, and she is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW). So, what can you do when you need your boss to listen to your specific needs, whether that’s asking for more money or a more flexible working pattern?
Amanda shared that when communicating with your boss on things like asking for a pay rise, flexible working or other benefits, you should keep the following points in mind:
1. Rehearse your request ahead of time. Ask a trusted friend to practise with you. It may feel uncomfortable, but this roleplay will make the real conversation go more smoothly. Anticipate your manager’s reaction and prepare your response.
2. Make your request ‘face-to-face’. If your company is currently working at the office, schedule this conversation for a time when you both are available for a (masked) face-to-face conversation. If this simply isn’t possible right now, then do the next best thing: use video-conferencing software so you can still gauge your boss’ reaction and look her in the eye when you make your request.
3. Take your boss’ personality into account. If your manager prefers people who don’t beat around the bush, schedule a meeting with a clear objective: “I’d like to schedule some time with you to [revisit my salary/working hours].” If your boss prefers a less direct approach, you may want to broach the subject during your next one-to-one meeting instead.
4. Justify your request. When asking for a payrise, justify your request with data and facts. The reason you deserve a raise isn’t about your wants and needs; it should be about the value you bring to the company and the information you’ve uncovered regarding the current job market. Be prepared to educate your manager about your current role, responsibilities and performance. If you’ve been a successful, productive member of the team and have been taking on new responsibilities, this is the time to share this information. If you’re seeking a pay rise, conduct research on sites like Glassdoor to learn the current market value for your role. When you’re armed with data, it’s easier to make your request with confidence.
5. Reiterate your commitment to the organisation and its success. No one wants to give a pay rise to someone whom they suspect will give notice in the near future. Recognise your past accomplishments, but also focus on the value you can contribute in the future.
6. Leave emotion at the door. Regardless of what benefits you intend to ask for, it’s important to remember that this conversation is not personal; it’s strictly business. Don’t apologise for your request or allow emotion to cloud the discussion; simply make your case in a calm, professional manner and see how your manager responds.
If your boss is becoming insufferable due to looking over your shoulder all the time, you can provide them with some constructive feedback. When giving feedback to your boss about things like micromanagement habits, Amanda asks that you keep the following points in mind:
1. Ask permission. Before you provide feedback or suggestions, ask your boss for permission. This can be as simple as ‘Can I check something out with you?’ or ‘Can I share some observations I’ve made?’ When your manager has given their consent, they are much more likely to approach your suggestions with an open mind.
2. Leave negatives at the door. Avoid using negative phrases that discourage and exclude, such as ‘I don’t think …’ and ‘You shouldn’t …’, when speaking. Negative language puts people on the defensive or causes them to shut down and disregard your feedback. Instead, be encouraging and use phrases that start with ‘What if we tried to…?’; “Maybe you could try…’; or ‘Have you considered doing…?’
3. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Be attentive to your boss’ body language, gestures and facial expressions to gauge how receptive they are to your feedback — and whether or not they believe your constructive criticism is fair or warranted. Crossed arms, slumped posture, lack of eye contact (even via video), frowning and fidgeting all signal that the person is either closed off or uninterested in what you have to say.
4. Be specific. You’re not doing your boss any favours by providing vague feedback. Telling Lottie that she is a micromanager is not constructive or effective. Instead, describe a specific example of the behaviour you observed, and explain the effects it has had on you or others. Then, provide clear suggestions as to how she could do things differently.