Don’t Try These Things If You Want a Raise – From An Employer’s Perspective

While reading an article on CNN today, a title of a footer link caught my attention providing me with an opportunity to write about something not-exactly-so-print related. It read something like “Things Not To Do When Asking for a Raise” reminding me of the dumb things a few of my past employees have attempted while positioning for a raise.

But first, a few things to know when courting a raise where you work.

1. It is okay and perfectly reasonable to ask for a raise especially in a small business environment.

2. Always do your best and take personal pride in your work even during negotiations.

3. Sometimes, you won’t get the raise. Rather than have a bad attitude, it is best to accept it and stay somewhere you love to work or leave on good terms.

Those three rules will make life easier for you and your boss or manager. In reality, people who work hard, serve customers well and go above and beyond will likely receive raises without asking. I understand this may not always be the case which is why rule #1 is so wonderfully true. Sometimes, managers have a lot of stressful stuff going on and may miss a much needed salary boost. Don’t take it too personal.

Dumb Tactic #1 – Alway Bitching

My first employee always bitched and complained so at the time this person asked (which felt more like a demand) it was hard for me to understand why a raise was deserved. Sure, this particular employee did have many responsibilities and helped me more than I care to admit, but the constant complaining, moaning and insults made it impossible for me to succumb to the needs of someone who probably deserved more money. I should have fired her a long time beforehand.

Dumb Tactic #2 – Ultimatums

I always thought it common knowledge that giving ultimatums was the absolute wrong way to go. Apparently, employees will still attempt this futile strategy. I personally don’t know of a single instance where ultimatums worked out for the employee which is why the above rules are so important. Ultimatums put both parties at odds in a bitter dispute that becomes irrational and bad for business overall.

One employee…we will name him Peter…demanded more money and the removal of another employee or he was walking. Ultimatums are dangerous beasts and will perhaps gain opposite results for the employee. This particular person ended up quitting and never spoke to me again, which was fine with me, but I ended up being an unavailable reference for him. If you are in a position to give an ultimatum, it is probably better to simply give ample notice and resign. Do your work well then leave on relatively good terms.

The funny part about this situation is that Peter was probably right about the employee he wanted me to release. He probably deserved more money because he was a pretty awesome employee, but he ended up threatening me with an ultimatum that I could not possibly agree to. I should have fired him on the spot, but I let him linger until he inevitably quit which was a drag on the company. In the end, he still didn’t get a raise and that’s the point.

Dumb Tactic #3 – Giving Two Weeks Hoping To Get a Raise

This one is a doozy. If you give two weeks notice; be prepared to follow through. And for goodness sake, don’t make quitting a play for a raise – it’s practically an ultimatum in itself. One employee who had been bugging me for a raise for awhile, gave me two weeks notice hoping I would cave in. Instead, I demanded his keys. Giving a company two weeks is serious business and is absolutely not a proper move when vying for a raise. In this person’s case, the position’s salary was capped and the person couldn’t accept it. Somewhere down the line, he was obviously unhappy with the job anyways so there was no need to hold on.


All three tactics were far more complicated than described. All three employees were decent people trying to make more money; they just went all about it wrong.

Aside from the obvious reasons, raises are essential to us understanding our importance as valuable staff members. Most managers and entrepreneurs know this since they likely have experience in the workforce. When vying for more money, check yourself. Be sure you are an awesome employee and that you are satisfied where you are. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I try to have open and transparent dialogue with employees concerning raises even in cases where I can’t offer more money…and sometimes…I do agree.

But yes, you might be trapped in a bad scenario where you need more money but love the job. That is a difficult situation to be in, and I hope you are able to successfully achieve that raise. In my experience, most good businesses want the best staff members to be financially successful.