Product Managers: Ask This Question To Get a Raise in 2016
December 18, 2015

Product Managers: Ask This Question To Get a Raise in 2016

by Brian de Haaff

Most companies are not looking to hand out cash. In fact, money is something that’s overvalued by most which makes it hard to just ask for more of it. Despite being a few years out of the recent recession, penny-pinching bosses and stingy companies are still reluctant to open up their wallets.

But you probably think that you deserve a bigger paycheck. Right? Plenty of other folks find themselves in the same predicament. And if you have worked for more than a year or two you have probably struggled with this exact topic in the past. Finding a balance between your effort and the compensation you receive for it is an ongoing balancing act.

If you ask a career coach about a salary hike they will probably tell you that no matter your role and experience it isn’t necessarily out of the question — so you might as well ask. But that’s just wrong and sure to fail.

It sure sounds like the right thing to do. My mom told me that if I did not ask, I surely would not get what I wanted. It’s a lot like what we are told about trying, if you do not try you are guaranteed to lose. But it does not work the same way, because it is easy for your boss to come up with tons of reasons why a promotion or raise does not make sense at the moment you ask.

Getting a raise requires multiple parties to agree — so you need to create the right motivation for agreement. And that takes a some planning and a bit of patience.

I recently was speaking with a product manager friend who was looking for a new job because he asked for a raise and his boss told him “no.” The reason was ridiculous. He was told that because he was a junior member of the product management team, the experience he was gaining was part of his compensation. Thus, it did not make sense give him a raise.

Now, imagine that rather than asking, “Can I have a raise?” he asked three months ago, “What do I need to do to get a raise?”

He would have had a very different discussion.

The one question you need to ask your boss right now if you want a raise in 2016 is:

“What do I need to do to get a raise?”

This totally changes the interaction from an awkward moment to a cooperative process. It takes what feels like a cold transaction and turns it into an opportunity for value exchange. Asking what you need to do to receive a raise does the following:

  • Maturely suggests that you want one without putting your supervisor on the spot

  • Communicates that you are willing to do what is needed to receive one

  • Generates clear goals for you to work towards

  • Exposes areas where your boss thinks you need to improve

  • Foreshadows whether you should be looking for a new job

This type of conversation also has the added benefit of aligning you and your boss as a team. It creates a framework where you both can work together to generate organizational and personal value.

I also suggest that after having the conversation you write down and review with your boss the goals that you need to realize and the areas for improvement. This drives accountability for both of you and will help encourage your boss to talk to his boss if he needs to.

Once the goals have been locked down, you should email them to your boss and review them on a regular basis to make sure you are on track.

To earn a bigger paycheck, you’ll need to do more than just a good job. You will need to be outstanding and make sure your accomplishments are in line with your bosses expectations. And the only way to do that is to ask your boss “What do I need to do to get a raise?”

Have you asked your boss what you need to do?

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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