Entrepreneur

This Is How You Ask Your Boss For A Raise, As Told By Young M'sian Bosses & CEOs

  • The employers we interview tended to agree that most of their increment consideration will be on an employee’s performance, rather than the “asking” process. 
  • Nevertheless, tips include asking on a Friday, keeping a tally of your achievements, and if you’re not asking directly, then frequently speak to your boss about how you can do better. 

You’ve been working in your company for some time now, and have picked up some extra responsibilities along the way to help your company move forward.

You enjoy the work there, and you think you’re doing a pretty good job. But you could use a higher paycheck, and you’re wondering how you can go about it.

Asking for increments can be a delicate situation, especially in Malaysia where we’re not accustomed to being so “entitled”.

So we reached out to some bosses in our network to discuss: what’s the best way to ask for an increment in Malaysia? We did reach out to younger bosses who would be leading more millennial-driven companies, as opposed to large corporates who would usually have a structure in place for increments.

And the consensus seems to be that you don’t really have to, if you’re performing.

The bosses we approached had various opinions, but they did agree that bosses themselves will have made the decision about whether to give increments or not based on the performance of the employee. If the employee is performing, then the bosses would approach the employee for an increment.

But as always, there are hairs to split.

Evelyn Marieta, founder of Wunderbath suggests that you keep a running tally of achievements and contributions in case they get looked over.

Wunderbath creates bath and body care products with a quirky twist, and gained popularity thanks to delicious-looking soap that looks almost good enough to eat.

Image Credit: Wunderbath

“Treat it like a business negotiation. Have a goal salary figure in mind and build your case why you’d think you deserve that raise.”

“I’ve heard that research showed that it’s best to ask on a Friday morning, but since we are in retail for me there’s no best time for an employee to ask for an increment. But it’s imperative that they come prepared.”

She suggests that a good time would be when the company has just added a new task or project as well.

“It’s also important to think from the company point of view. If you were in your bosses’ shoes, would you give yourself a raise? It also helps to keep a list of your accomplishments the moment you start your job just in case your boss fail to acknowledge your efforts.”

As an employer that works with a lot of young people, Evelyn notes that many of her employees who attempt this have never negotiated before, but they would still give out increments if the employee proves that they have something valuable to offer to a company.

“So successful pitches can be: proving your worth, ask for a certain number of increment and then justifying why you qualify for that increment”

That being said, an increment is all about indispensability for Evelyn.

“At the end of the day it’s a negotiation between price and value.”

If the candidate’s attitude towards work matches the work culture, their request is within a reasonable range and they’ve been showing 100% effort, then Evelyn thinks that Wunderbath would recognise their value.

As for when to ask, Timothy Tiah thinks one year of service is the expected time.

Image Credit: Colony

Colony is Timothy Tiah’s current venture. It wants to serve up the idea of a co-working space with a more luxurious appeal meant to compete with the typical corporate office, rather than other co-working spaces.

“Try to make sure you’ve really hit tangible targets set out to make it easier to justify it.”

That being said, Timothy agrees that “the best kind of pitches are the kind that don’t even need to be pitched”.

“When you’ve done so well that your boss finds it worrying to lose you to someone else and broaches it with you first.”

“When you ask for increment, you put your boss on the defensive, but when he asks you for it, it’s his idea and chances are he’s more willing to give you a better one.”

But he also notes that in Colony, their increment system is quite black and white.

“Everyone knows what increment they’re going to get beforehand based on where they are from the targets (red, yellow, green). 70% of the increment is guaranteed by these KPIs, another 30% from management discretion.”

“So you won’t be in a situation where you hit a target but because your boss doesn’t like you, you didn’t get your raise.

Timothy also reinforced what Evelyn mentioned earlier: that they do look at how well the candidate fits into the company culture.

Ken Lau of Adventoro thinks it’s not about the “meeting” at all either.

Image Credit: Adventoro

Adventoro was created due to the frustration of founder Ken Lau with the lack of online resources for Southeast Asian tours to help wanderlusters book tours and activities.

As long as the employee constantly demonstrates and emphasises their value to the company, he feels that employers will take note.

“It is not about how important the task it but how much it actually means for the company. Be proactive about it. Constantly strive for above and beyond means of contributing.”

“If one constantly demonstrates, it doesn’t require ‘the’ meeting. The bosses would automatically know how to reward them (by giving them a deserved raise), knowing the industry will poach them if they don’t reward them.”

Ken advises that if employees are unsure if their contribution is meaningful, then they should constantly seek feedback. He suggests monthly or bi-monthly meetings to keep tabs.

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Based on our conversations, it is interesting to note that many of these bosses don’t consider the actual “asking” as too important to their increment decision.

Instead, it seems like a better idea for an employee to reflect on their work so far, and perhaps approach their bosses for tips and ideas on how to improve, rather than directly asking for an increment.

That being said, based on our conversations, it is not an absolute no-no to approach bosses with increment requests. As Evelyn noted, your boss simply may not have noticed your contributions.

Unfortunately, your value to the company does also depend on how well you “sell” yourselves to your employers. For many, this could mean that simply being more visible with their work can lead to an increment.

It is important to keep your KPIs in mind, and if the need comes to ask for increments, to prepare and make your case.

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