Outstanding managers know the best timing to reward and give a pay raise. But what if you are long overdue for a raise and you know you deserve a higher salary? Asking for a raise is always a tough topic and many of us are nervous about bringing it up. How should we prepare for it and make it easier for the managers to say yes?

1. Understand why companies give raise

Salary is an expense to companies. Asking for a raise means cutting their profits and cash reserves. Management has no interest in how much you deserve to be paid. Your salary is merely based on the cost of replacing you. Replacing a staff is indeed much more expensive than it may seem. Other than basic salary cost, companies need to bear additional recruitment and training cost. If the cost of replacing you is higher than your current salary, you are likely to get a raise.

2. Gather evidence

Before making the request, you need to summarize your hard-work and unique contributions to support your case e.g. money saving efficiencies you implemented in projects that you just handled, positive customer testimonials or compliments made from senior management. Remind your boss of your accomplishments benchmarking with the average salaries in the same market can help you come up with a reasonable target figure in mind.

 3. Choose the right moment

Most people make their pitch during performance review time. It may not be the best timing because by then your manager are normally overwhelmed with everyone’s evaluation and they are less likely to grant your request. Budget may be set already to constrain him to give you a raise. Instead, you should ask for a raise just before taking on new responsibilities or right after you successfully complete a project. If there is no positive feedback from him, suggest revisiting the issue in a few months and mark his calendar.

4. Structure your speech 

Don’t start the conversation with a complaint or threat. This will only put your boss on a defensive mode. Stay positive and focus on how much you have contributed. You should also avoid implicitly or explicitly threatening to leave or else you would paint yourself into a corner if you get no raise. Be direct and confident to stay your request and always strive for a tone of mutual respect.

5. Look forward, not backward

The conversation shouldn’t be just about recognition for past achievements but also acknowledgement for your dedication to the team and the company. Tell your boss what you hope to tackle next and assure him your understanding on his pressure and goals. “You’ve got to understand what is it they value, what it is it that’s important to them, how are you making their lives better as well as the company’s,” says Diana Faison, a partner with leadership development firm Flynn Heath Holt Leadership.

6. If the answer is no

If your request is declined, have a Plan B at the ready: Are there benefits you might accept in lieu of an increase in salary, such as a bonus, stock options, or more flexible work hours? And if your boss’s answer is still no, ask what it will take to shift the answer into a yes. Always show your commitment to the company and hope to grow within it.

O'Hara, Carolyn, and Kathryn Heath. "How to Ask for a Raise." Harvard Business Review. N.p., 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 June 2017.