Are You Unhappy At Work? Make A Change!

30 May

I was recently talking to a good friend about how her job was going when she told me that she pretty much does her boss’s job without her boss’s pay. When her husband suggested that she go into the office the following day and ask for a promotion I totally agreed. Here is a woman who has been busting her ass at work for a very long time without being properly recognized. So we all waited for her to say “Yes, I will go ask for that promotion,” but she didn’t. Instead she seemed uneasy with the idea and said that while she did do things outside of her pay and skill level, she was afraid of having to learn something new. She was also uncomfortable with the idea of managing people who were at least five years her senior.

While I understand that asking for a promotion and a pay raise can be extremely nerve-racking, I am of the opinion that if you are unhappy you need to make a change. If you continue to go above and beyond everyone’s expectations without asking for more your company may never give you more. This is what we call taking advantage of the little man. All of us do it, and if you don’t do something about it you will find yourself looking back ten years from now wondering why you didn’t just ask.

That’s it. All you have to do is ask. And as you have heard your entire life, all they can say is No. If you think about it that way it makes the whole process a little less scary.  So, if you feel that you are working harder than your co-workers but are in a lower level position or are not being paid well enough, JUST ASK.

But how do you know when it is appropriate to ask for a promotion or pay increase? The truth is that there is no “appropriate” time to ask. The “best” opportunity to ask will probably be at your annual review, but if that has already come and gone then you need to think of other options. Try scheduling a meeting with your boss and say that you would like to discuss how you are doing at work. If you feel that is too formal for your work environment then simply walk into your boss’s office when he/she seems the least busy and ask if you can talk to him/her. Yes I know it is scary, but you can do it!

Before going in to speak to your boss think about how your company is growing and changing. For example, are people from your team being moved to different positions? Is your company merging with another? Are there openings in a position that you are interested in? When companies are changing and growing it presents a great opportunity for you to go in there and ask for a promotion.

But the economy sucks right now so they probably won’t give me what I want, right? WRONG! Yes I know that the economy is not at its greatest, but you have to understand that if you are a valuable employee (and if they are smart) they will do what they can to please you and keep you at the company. Obviously if your company is going under it may not be the best time to ask for a promotion, but if that is the case I would suggest looking for a backup job.

Make sure you can tell your boss exactly what you have brought to the table. Asking for a promotion is one thing if you are actually making the company grow or better off, but it is an entirely different thing if you aren’t bringing your company any benefit. Make sure that you are prepared to defend your promotion by showing your boss how valuable you are to the company. At my last job I had a meeting with my boss about the pay increase I was promised. At that meeting I went in prepared to tell him that I had saved the company X amount of dollars in legal fees that year and had accomplished things that no one else had accomplished at the company. In the end my boss was more than happy to give me the pay increase, and so will yours if you can show him/her why you deserve it.

Make sure you know what you want before you go speak to your boss. A lot of times we assume that our bosses have these big plans for us and know which direction we are going within the company. The truth is that a lot of times your boss doesn’t know what you really want out of the company and whether you are truly happy. So when you go to ask for a promotion be prepared for your boss to ask you what it is you want. Do you want more responsibility? Do you want to manage others? How much of a salary increase do you think is appropriate? Be prepared to show that people working in your field and performing your responsibilities make X amount of dollars before you ask for an increase in salary.

If you get the promotion or pay increase good for you! Be happy and celebrate, but make sure that you understand your boss’s expectations. Your best bet will probably be to have another meeting with your boss in which you go over everything that your new position entails and make a list of exactly what your boss expects from someone in your new position.

At the end of the day asking for a promotion or a pay increase is NOT easy, but it is necessary if you find yourself completely unhappy at work. Remember, we all have the power to change our own lives, so if you are unhappy go out and do something about it.

Have you ever asked for a promotion or pay increase? How did you go about asking and how did your boss respond?

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