Fielding an appeal from an employee for a pay raise can prove almost as nerve-wracking as requesting one, especially if the boss hasn’t been in such a position before. When a secretary first asked me for a salary increase, I lost sleep worrying whether she deserved it and, if so, in what amount. Those were the thoughts running through my mind when Jimmy sought my advice today, after receiving his first ever raise request.
My friend brought up the subject as soon as I picked up the phone. Upon confirming my past experience in the area, he asked if I had any suggestions.
I told him: “First off, what’s the financial picture? Can you afford an increase?”
Jimmy said he could, adding: “Is that it?”
“Of course not,” I explained. “There’s much more. For instance, did she do her homework in terms of knowing what similarly situated employees earn, and ask for an amount within the going rates? Did you do your own homework, so you know whether you’re currently underpaying her for the services she performs, given the length of time she’s been performing them? Also, how’d she make her request? Did she cite her own financial needs? Did she base her demand for a raise on the fact that some other employee got one? I’d rather see her describe all her accomplishments and explain why they entitle her to a higher salary.”
“Jesus!” my friend replied. “All that for a simple raise request?!”
“Look Jimmy, I’m not here to tell you how to run your business. And I don’t know what specific position’s involved. But before I’d agree to shell out another five or ten thousand a year to someone, I’d want to make damn sure she deserves it.”
“Five or ten thousand?!!” Jimmy exclaimed. “Are you nuts, Richard? You may be a smart guy, but it’s obvious you’re not a parent … ’cause you don’t know jack about the going rate for a teenaged babysitter these days!”