How to Ask for a Raise When Your Boss Doesn’t like You

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Wondering how to ask for a raise when your boss doesn’t like you? No doubt, that’s not the most pleasant of thoughts for any young professional.

Asking for a raise is scary enough, and it’s bad enough to think that your boss dislikes you already. After all, manager-direct report relationships have been known to influence performance appraisals, promotions, raises, and end-of-year bonuses. 

You’re worried about making things tenser. But when it comes to your career, often you’ve got one chance to get it right—one shot at proving yourself and getting ahead.

So if you’re on the verge of asking for a raise but have that sinking feeling that your boss hates you, wait no more!

We’re talking about making yourself happier and fairly compensated for your amazing work! That could mean greater job satisfaction, happiness, and performance quality. Meanwhile, the company gets higher productivity from among its best assets (you!).

It may or may not be true that your boss dislikes you. Whichever your situation, read on to learn how to navigate this dilemma and increase your chances of getting that bump. 

Will My Boss Get Mad if I Ask for a Raise?

Maybe yes, but they shouldn’t. 

You see, asking for a raise is a natural part of building your career and progressing professionally. Then why let the idea of your boss getting mad at you stop you from doing what’s best for your career?

Some employers are happy to give raises whenever they can, while others are stingy. If your boss is in the latter camp, you might have to wait until the company’s financial situation merits a raise. And if you suspect some tension between yourself and your boss, I recommend deescalating it first. 

A manager getting angry at you for asking for raise may have nothing to do with your workplace relationship. It could be you’re asking at the wrong time or in the wrong way.

Never ask for a raise only because you think it’s time or a coworker received one. And even if one of these could be your motivation, you don’t want to admit it to your boss. Instead, back up your case with solid evidence of your work’s impact on the company’s bottom line. 

What to Do When You Feel Like Your Boss Doesn’t Like You?

Managers are often receptive to people they like and respect. So, the more strained your relationship, the harder it gets to get through them. But you can rectify the situation. Here’s how:

Analyze how your boss treats you vs. other employees

Does your boss favor other employees over you? Watch out for the following signs they might be out to get you:

  • They often call you out in front of the whole team.
  • Your boss is critical of your work but not others. 
  • Your boss avoids eye contact or talking to you altogether.
  • They’re usually annoyed with everything work-related they have to do with you.

Don’t gossip about it

Gossiping about this situation isn’t only unprofessional. It’s also a waste of your time and likely to create more bad feelings in the office. 

Furthermore, even if someone doesn’t get along with another employee, there’s no reason for everyone else at work to dislike the said co-worker just because of one person’s opinion. 

Try to narrow down when the problem started

Is there something specific that triggered the bad blood in the first place? When did the relationship turn sour? Whatever answers or questions arise from these inquiries, keep track of them and use them as a basis for approaching your boss about the matter.

Start engaging your boss in conversations about things that matter to them

Your goal here is to learn more about your boss and build a connection with them. That increases your chances of getting through to them if something comes up later—like asking for a raise—than before when all communication was strictly business-related.

Ask your boss about their new project, thoughts on something at work, or even weekend plans. Start saying hi regularly and complimenting them too.

Don’t force a friendship, but be cordial. If your boss starts advising you on something at work, listen. It’s not personal; they could only be trying to help you improve and succeed while keeping the overall goals in mind.

Be helpful around the office

Offering assistance wherever possible gives your boss less reason to feel otherwise about you. You also want them to clarify exactly how you are doing something wrong and help you make it better. It’s about demonstrating your value as an individual rather than just another number on the payroll sheet.

But be careful about how quickly (or much) you try to change that dynamic—otherwise, things may get even worse! The last thing you want to do is escalate the already tense situation by acting insecure and needy—that’s a surefire way to push your boss away. 

How to Ask for a Raise When Your Boss Doesn’t Like You

A 2019 survey by Reed Recruitment found that 55% of U.K employees feel uncomfortable asking for more money. Reasons included:

  • Too scared (12%)
  • Fear of rejection(12%)
  • Not wanting to seem selfish (15%)
  • Not knowing what to say(16%)

But in another survey, 70% of U.S workers who asked for a raise said they got one. So, your chances are pretty high, even if you’re not the best friends with your boss—only that you need to add an extra layer of caution. 

With that, find below practical steps on how to ask for a raise when your boss doesn’t like you: 

  • Develop a strategy to improve your relationship
  • Ensure your work is on point and make a case for it
  • Ask for an in-person meeting
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Manage your expectations, and have a plan B ready

1. Develop a strategy to improve your relationship

The first step is to improve your relationship with your boss. Here’s how:

  • Ask for feedback
  • Turn in quality work on or ahead of time
  • Don’t criticize or bad-mouth your boss
  • Be proactive and reach out to your boss first when necessary
  • Show  interest and support whenever possible, and 
  • Communicate that you’re on their side

Walk the extra mile to acquire additional but relevant soft and technical skills (and don’t worry too much if there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be). Showing humility about your current skill set but demonstrating enthusiasm for improving will go a long way with your boss.

2. Ensure your work is on point and make a case for it

Put your raise request into context with compelling data.

First, determine your market value by researching the average salary for people with similar job titles at other companies. That should help you ask for a reasonable amount. You could engage recruiters in your niche or use the following salary comparison tools: 

Next, you must justify your quest for more money. 

Start by creating an inventory of your achievements over the past 6-12 months. While you want to humbly brag about how much time and effort each accomplishment took, focus more on how they benefited the company.

I recommend categorizing the achievements in a Google spreadsheet. The list below includes the key categories:

  • Sales targets met
  • Clients acquired
  • Productivity improvements
  • Revenue generated
  • Cost savings achieved

Each accomplishment should align with the company goals. More importantly, quantify them with numbers as illustrated below:

  • My work on Project X led our team to achieve 100% on-time delivery for the first time in the company’s history.
  • I was able to reduce costs by 10% by streamlining our supply chain process.”
  • I saved the company $1 million with my changes to our marketing strategy.”

3. Ask for an in-person meeting

Don’t just walk into your boss’s office and say, “I was wondering if you had a second to talk about my salary” You risk finding them at their worst or too occupied to pay attention to the conversation. 

Instead, schedule a formal meeting in advance using email. Craft something brief along these lines:

“I’m interested in having a conversation about my salary. I know you’re busy, but I’m hoping we can schedule a time when we can both focus on the discussion and I can share some information about my relevant contributions over the last year. Would Tuesday morning work?” 

4. Practice, practice, practice

You can’t know everything to expect if your boss isn’t that supportive. And it isn’t going to be an easy conversation.

So, ensure you’re extremely prepared so that when your manager inevitably starts challenging you, everything will feel polished and rehearsed. Below are some tips for getting that done:

Practice your pitch several times with someone whose opinion you trust. Work to deliver your script in as few words as possible—time is precious, and if your employer doesn’t think they’re going to get their money’s worth out of listening to all that you have to say, they might cut off the meeting before it even has a chance.

Compiling a few questions and objections likely to come up during the meeting might seem overly prepared. But being ready for any curveballs could be your key to mitigating surprises and adding confidence to your delivery.

5. Manage your expectations, and have plan B ready

Be flexible enough to negotiate for other benefits if your base salary is off the table. Could you try negotiating for more paid-off time instead? Could you pick another skill set or gain more experience in an area that excites you? Is there something else that could make you feel valued and appreciated?

Is your situation with your boss unlikely to improve and raise requests consistently rejected? Decide whether or not you need a change of career. (Related: What to Do When You Don’t Get a Raise [5 Actions To Take])

Perhaps this isn’t the ideal job for you after all. Then, start exploring other options outside work that align with your expertise, career goals, and life plan.

 Another job doesn’t just warrant extra pay. It could also mean less day-to-day work stress when compared to your present situation. 

Take some time to update your resume and practice interviewing, career experts advise. And when the time comes to jump ship, do so with integrity.

What to Do If Your Boss Doesn’t Want to Give You a Raise?

When a boss rejects a request for a raise, it’s easy to feel stuck in limbo. You have every right to feel frustrated, but how about seizing the moment as an opportunity to grow?

Once your boss has given a valid reason (or even if they haven’t), if possible, ask for a follow-up meeting in which you can discuss where things stand. Set some measurable goals together and keep working with the same zeal. It’s all about growing the green lights on your progress board and solidifying your commitment to getting what you want.

If you can negotiate for other non-salary benefits, then go ahead. And when you’ve exhausted all possible options without success, start looking externally for other companies with room for growth. 

Can an Employer Fire You for Asking for a Raise?

Yes, but not how you think. 

Depending on the local legal system, an employer can terminate an employee for no reason without facing any legal liability. This is especially true if the employee works in an at-will jurisdiction where they are free to walk off their job if dissatisfied with their conditions (or lack thereof). 

And even if an employer fires you for asking for more money, wouldn’t they cite that as the reason? Certainly not! Otherwise, they could set themselves up for scrutiny and legal liability for unfair dismissal. 

But remember that employers are under no obligation to give employees raises. Some prefer not to do so as it can affect their bottom line negatively.

Summary

And that’s it, folks! You can always master how to ask for a raise when your boss doesn’t like you. 

Sure, you have no idea of what impact to expect. But again, the relationship with your boss (and your financial situation) won’t improve until you become the bigger person. Yeap, it’s about sucking it up and taking the risk. 

Start with warming up your relationship with your boss. After which, use the outlined tips to turn a salary negotiation into a fruitful venture. 

Even if asking doesn’t work, don’t settle for less! There are other options out there.