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7 Tips For Working With Bosses Shared By HR Pros, So You Know How To Ask For A Raise This Year

Tips on how to ask for a pay raise or promotion

Each new year comes with a renewed sense of motivation to hit our goals, and for some of us, that might mean finally asking our boss for that pay raise. But we all know that’s easier said than done because bosses can be like an enigma to us – who really knows what they’re thinking, and how can we approach them? 

While every boss is different, interacting with them doesn’t have to be a slippery slope filled with fear and uncertainty. Here, we speak to HR professionals and scour the net for 7 tips for working with bosses to help you get ahead at work.

1. Understand your boss’s working habits & expectations

HR tips - understand boss working habits

In a relationship, you often pick up your significant other’s habits along the way and learn when to and when not to disturb them. Similarly with bosses, you’ll have to observe how they work and when is a good opening to speak to them.

According to a HR Associate, if you’re new to the team, the simplest way is to check with your colleagues on what makes your boss tick. Another way is simply to ask your boss directly for the best time to have a chat. While you’re at it, check in on them too and ask how their weekend went. Bosses are humans too. We always ask “where’s boss?” but never “how’s boss?”.

2. Be proactive with your career goals

Man with laptop

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Achieving career goals such as moving to a leadership position with more responsibilities means putting in the work. One way to do this is to simply practise proactiveness rather than hoping the boss notices your hard work. 

Proactiveness comes in many forms, but some of the easiest ways to show it is to anticipate your boss’s requests. That means keeping your boss updated on the status of your tasks instead of waiting for them to check in with you, or overestimating timelines to complete said tasks ahead of set deadlines.

Thomas Teo, Chief of Staff & Head of CEO Office at TSL Media Group, also shares, “Employees that proactively support other tasks within the team are very desirable. Resource allocation is often not the easiest thing to do in companies, so when employees help each other to complete tasks, this not only improves overall productivity but also elevates positive team dynamics.”

3. Practise open communication

HR tips - practice open communication

While we may feel apprehensive to approach our boss for questions, communication is key. Be it in personal or professional relationships, it is vital we maintain open communication so that instructions, feedback, and updates don’t get misinterpreted. 

According to Sandy Mazur, a recruitment specialist, employees need to openly convey their goals, objectives, and career path to their supervisors so that they grow and learn in the right direction. She adds that employees should take the initiative in opening the line of communication with their bosses.

Some tips for effective communication include being upfront with what you want to communicate to your boss. Instead, relay your intentions clearly before going into the details, then offer your suggested solutions and work with your boss from there.

4. Don’t be afraid to voice out your opinions

Office meeting - voice out opinions

Asking questions is one thing, but chiming in with an opinion is another, especially when it’s an opinion that conflicts with your boss’s point. That said, don’t hold back – it’s all about how you word your opinions and say them with confidence.

Stay away from emotive words and harsh language. Instead, adopt a more tactful and respectful tone. According to a learning technologist, some phrases you can include before following up with your reasoning are:

I understand where you’re coming from, but…That’s a valid point, but…I’m sorry but I disagree with you about this because…

Not only does this get your point across, but it also gives you more “visibility.” After all, if you have the guts to speak up, your boss can surely trust you to be vocal when it comes to the company’s best interests.

5. Be upfront & honest with your mistakes

HR tips - be honest with your mistakes

For some of us, our first instinct when making a mistake is to sweep everything under the rug. But that might actually do more harm than good if your boss finds out about it later. In cases where grave mistakes have been made, being upfront about them could help you appear sincere in wanting to rectify the situation instead of shirking responsibility. 

Teo acknowledges that everyone makes mistakes. He says, “It happens to the best of us. Acknowledging mistakes allows us to quickly perform damage control and help managers assess processes or resource gaps.”

Once you’ve fessed up, elaborate on how you will find a solution and make up for it. In the best-case scenario, your honesty will earn your boss’s respect and display your self-awareness about areas of improvement. This will build your bond with your boss and they will be more confident in depending on you.

6. Always be ready with a solution

Work - be ready with a solution

A LinkedIn Future of Talent survey showed that problem-solving skills are in demand and local employers value strategic thinkers who are able to brainstorm ideas and think of alternate solutions. This is so that managers are able to choose the best solution to implement.

Showing up with a solution also shows them that you’ve got things under control and that you don’t need hand-holding. This in turn might raise your boss’s trust in you, perhaps even considering giving you a pay raise or a more senior role – a promotion.

Sharing this sentiment, Teo says, ”The expectations naturally extend as we hire upwards. For example, for more senior roles, we will place emphasis on demonstrated industry-related experience and evidence of tangible impact.”

7. Know when to quantify your workload

Quantify your workload

Bringing up the topic of a pay raise or promotion to your boss can be daunting. But as long as you’ve got backup in the form of numbers and proof of your accomplishments at work, you shouldn’t have anything to fear. 

That said, keep a record of the work you’ve done, plus data to show how you’ve contributed to your company’s performance. Being able to quantify your work this way will help justify the reasons you deserve a pay raise or promotion. 

Members of the Forbes Human Resources Council share that you do not have to wait for your appraisal or performance review to bring up your achievements. Instead, you can have ongoing discussions with your managers about your successful endeavours.

Stay energised and proactive at work

HR tips - 5-hour energy bottles

It can seem tiring trying to maintain a positive image in the eyes of your boss. Being proactive involves staying focused on the job and it can be difficult when you’ve spent half the previous night binge-watching your favourite shows.

One surefire way we stay awake is to give yourself a boost with energy supplements. If you would like a healthier pick-me-up, opt for 5-hour ENERGY shots with zero sugar.

5-hour energy bottle$27 for a pack of 6 bottles.

You can pick from a variety of flavours including Cool Mint Lemonade and Grape. There are also Orange and Peach Tea-flavoured shots that now come in a brand new packaging with the same taste. Each shot is packed with vitamins B6, B12, and B3. Just 1 shot will leave you energised as well as keep you focused and alert for a good 5 hours straight – perfect for tanking a full day of meetings with your boss.

Rather than relying on high sugar content, this drink contains caffeine derived from tea which helps perk you up, especially when the post-lunch coma or mental fatigue hits.

HR tips- %-hour energy new bottle design

Even gym buffs might take a fancy to this as a pre-workout drink to hype themselves up. The small bottle, consisting of just 4 calories, is also easy to pop into your gym or work bag so it’s easily accessible whenever you need the energy boost.

Needless to say, dozing off during work hours or attributing unproductivity to lethargy is not a good look if you’re trying to ask for a pay raise this year. With these tips from industry experts and a helping hand from 5-hour ENERGY, make 2023 the year you work better with your bosses so you can make headway in your desired career path.

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This post was brought to you by 5-hour ENERGY.Photography by Afiqah Amir.


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