If you don't have direct responsibility for a profit-and-loss statement, or aren't a salesperson, it isn't always easy to show your boss you deserve a raise. Let's say you're a graphic designer who's honed her creativity, or a help-desk staffer who's gotten more adept at handling complicated requests - such improvements make you more valuable to your employer, but they're difficult to pin a number on. Still, you can become more visibly valuable.
"Start doing certain things six months to a year before you're going to ask for a raise," suggests David Lorenzo, a partner at the Gallup Organization (the management consulting side). He suggests three approaches you might try:
Help other people fulfill their potential - especially your boss. Says Lorenzo, "If you can find ways to help the people directly above you not only meet their goals but also look good in front of their bosses, they will want to reward you."
Fix something. "Go out of your way to identify a system or a procedure that doesn't work very well and figure out how to improve it," Lorenzo says. At one of his client companies, a couple of departments got paid at midday on Fridays - a source of much frustration and grumbling since employees often couldn't get to the bank in time to cash their checks or, if they had direct deposit, found that the funds posted on Friday were not available until Monday.
"One of the administrative assistants took it upon herself to work with the payroll department on a new system for distributing pay so that people got their checks on Thursdays instead, which made all the difference," recalls Lorenzo. "If you take initiative and take action, it will be clear that you're valuable, even if you can't quantify it."
Get something started. "About 80% of the effort on any project is expended in just building up the momentum to get it started in the first place," Lorenzo says. "Be good at that and you become a 'go-to' person."
If you've already done one or more of these things, don't be shy about reminding your boss of what you have contributed. Writing down a list of your achievements and improvements over the past year may help you to stay focused. Then, sit down with your boss and explain why you believe you're worth more.