Within the next few days and weeks, many of us will receive our annual salary raises, in most cases after we have completed the inevitable ritual of performance appraisals and ratings.
There are only two ways of dealing with anxiety that grips you during this time—you can either wait for your raise to be announced, and accept it as a fait accompli (i.e., you can lump it) or you can do something about maximizing your raise. The latter strategy is probably the best way ahead. Have a discussion with your boss about the minimum pay increase you are expecting; if you have not done this already, reach into that office right now. And if that is not an idea you are keen to explore, here are five other proactive approaches you can use...entirely at your own risk.
Go ahead, recommend salary increases for senior management
When the senior management of your company gets a large salary increase, chances are they will be generous towards you as well. You can trigger this virtuous cycle in various ways. A simple method is to write a letter to your company’s chairman. Here is a draft, just make sure you also send copies to the CEO, COO and CFO.
The CEO, COO, CFO and senior vice-presidents of our company work incredibly hard, and deserve nothing less than a 40% salary raise this year. They work so hard in the office that they often fall asleep due to sheer exhaustion. They work equally hard for long hours on the golf courses, where they have been heard discussing important business strategies. They work hard by flying abroad across time zones so frequently, we pity their out-of-sync body clocks and muddled brains. Our company is fortunate to have such dedicated leadership. Why don’t you also consider giving them a swank new luxury car each this year? I would be grateful, Sir, for your positive consideration.
I remain, a most loyal employee
Raise the inflation flag
Many companies use inflation as a reference point while planning (or should we say panning) salary increases, so here’s your opportunity to put economics to profitable use. In a few meetings where senior management is present, you must stand up and say something very intelligent, such as: “The governor of the Reserve Bank thinks inflation is the biggest threat to our economy. It is also the biggest threat to my home. There’s inflation of food prices, inflation of my spouse’s ego, and also the unfortunate inflation of my waist.” You should point out that inflation is currently running at twice last year’s levels. Signalling is important, and this is a clear signal of what this year’s salary increase should be compared to last year’s lowly raise.
If you like making dramatic statements, leave two separate mounds of brinjal on your boss’ table, marked “2010—Rs 20” and “2011— Rs 40”, respectively. Make sure the brinjals are fresh, so that he can quietly take them home after digesting the message. After all why should you lose an opportunity to make the boss happy.
Invite the HR head out for drinks
Chief human resources (HR) officers play a key role in deciding pay increases. Therefore, you should make your point very effectively to him (or to one of his underlings if you are at some distant location). Invite him out for drinks. Fortunately, most heads of HR love talking, and are guzzlers par excellence.
After plying the person with a few, talk to him about some people in other companies, how much more they earn, and how much more they party. Use a few names and figures with flourish, it is unlikely these will ever get verified. Tell him how the employee happiness indices of your company are bound to zoom up if a good pay increase is given out, since HR heads are perennially concerned about the health of these coveted indices. Tell him the matter rests entirely in his hands. Towards the end, confess that you don’t have money to pay for the drinks, since at current salary levels you are perennially broke. That will make a memorable impact on his mind and wallet.
Highlight your extreme personal circumstances
Your boss has a key role to play in determining your specific salary increase. Hence, it is your moral duty towards yourself to highlight to him the compelling series of miserable circumstances that have become your lot in life.
Ask for 5 minutes, but make sure you keep speaking until he is willing to get rid of you at any cost. Tell him about how you were nearly evicted from your apartment, for not paying up on time. Tell him about how your great grandaunt’s hospitalization has sucked up all your meagre savings. Tell him how expensive it is these days to keep a thing going with a girlfriend or spouse, and how the future of your relationship now depends entirely on the pay hike you will get. Make your boss feel totally responsible for your life. If he is human (caution: not all bosses are), this will play on his mind when he finally ticks off what your pay hike should be.
Ensure all salary increase meetings are scheduled after lunch
Did you read the recent news item that judges give many more generous judgements after a good lunch ? Now, this is a very useful insight. Speak to the CEO’s secretary, or the HR department guy who schedules these meetings, and ensure that every meeting called by them to discuss salary increases is scheduled immediately after lunch. Well-fed senior managers, beaming after a hearty meal of roast chicken and potatoes, are unlikely to adopt a miserly view of salary increases, unless they are real Scrooges, the whole lot of them. In which case, you are totally helpless, and may really have to lump it when the new payslip comes your way.
Harish Bhat is chief operating officer—watches, Titan Industries Ltd. He also has many interesting ideas about how best you can react after you have received your pay increase. Watch this space.
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