Asking for a salary raise can be as stressful as filing your taxes or having a cavity filled. No wonder we avoid it until the last possible moment. Still, knowing the right way and the wrong way to present your argument is the difference between obtaining higher rewards and being labeled a “problem child.” PeopleKeys’ DISC method of personality types can help.

In general, there are three ways to justify a raise:

  1. You’re a recognized star performer who’s already surpassed your yearly goals by February.
  2. You’re in a super-competitive industry where demand for quality staffers is soaring and you’ve been offered more elsewhere.
  3. You’re already filling a higher-paid position such as doing your boss’s job after he left for greener pastures.

Now, if you’re in one of these categories, great! If not, and unless your family name is on the building, you’ll need a surefire strategy for getting your boss’ agreement to improve your salary situation.

Action 1: Discover DISC Styles

How you broach the subject of a raise depends on your personality, and more importantly – your boss’ personality. And this is where we come in. People are different, but they are predictably so. PeopleKeys has been helping people for over 30 years to better understand personality and communication skills in the workplace. With our proven methods, we can teach you to navigate the turbulent waters of salary negotiation, directing you to specific actions that will double your chances of getting the raise you deserve.

For starters, it’s vital that you understand your own communication style, and then learn to identify your boss’ style. Our DISC assessment can help you recognize which relational techniques will work best for your interactions. Learning to distinguish key personality traits in yourself and your boss can lead to a happier outcome.

The “D” Boss

If your boss is the direct type‚Äî “D” for Dominant style in our DISC Assessment‚Äîthen the direct approach is your best bet. “D” style bosses are dominant, competitive, and blunt. They focus on results. Their offices are adorned with awards, degrees, and plaques proclaiming their supremacy over the workplace. In dealing with a “D” style boss, we suggest making an appointment with a clearly stated objective: “I’d like to meet Tuesday at 10 am to make a case for the revisiting of my salary.”

During the meeting, you must prove your value to the company by showing how you are making the company money, keeping it operationally compliant, and ensuring that company objectives are met. Your “D” style boss will be more inclined to reward you if you are making his life easier, more productive, and enhancing his standing with management.

The “I” Boss

Not every boss is a “D,” however. If your boss is more outgoing and relational‚Äî “I” for Inspiring style in our DISC Assessment‚Äîthen having a positive attitude and building strong workplace relationships is going to gain you the favor. “I” style boss’ offices are usually full of fun gadgets and photos of adventures, friends, and family. These personality types are animated, welcoming, encouraging, and express their feelings freely.

“I” style bosses like employees who enthusiastically support others. If they personally like you and see you as a positive relational force, you have a good shot at that raise.

The “S” Boss

If your boss is a conflict-avoidance, no drama type‚Äî “S” for Steady style in our DISC Assessment‚Äîthen they value strong teams, a pleasant work environment, and employees who think of others first. They are easygoing and will probably need to ask someone else to approve your raise since they prize collaboration in making major decisions.

To win over this style, you must demonstrate your team allegiance, specifically showing how your efforts are achieving the synergy to accomplish company objectives. Before they campaign for your raise, “S” type bosses must realize that your participation is helping the team reach goals they otherwise would not have attained.

The “C” Boss

If your boss is analytical, data-driven, and bounded by statistics‚Äî “C” for Conscientious style in our DISC assessment‚Äîa different approach is required to score your raise. “C” bosses operate from facts. Consequently, you need to have the data to support your argument before opening any salary discussion.

You’ll need to educate your “C” style boss on the appropriate salary level based on salary data for your job title and experience. Further, if your company publishes a salary range for your position, and if you are in the statistical mean, use this to prove that because you do far more than the average person, you deserve an above-average raise. Comparison studies of salaries for similar positions at local companies are also a good resource.

Action 2: Consider Timing

OK, so let’s say you understand the personalities involved. Now what?

In the world of competitive cash, timing is everything. A smaller raise now can be worth more than a larger raise later when your salary review rolls around, so decide what you want, when you want it. Of course, highly competitive fields like medical, high-tech, and blog writing (I wish!) are raise-friendly. Others are not as open to out of cycle increases. Knowing your market and company culture makes all the difference.

To decide your strategy, find out when raises happen at your company. Calendar year? Anniversary date? When the stars align? Next, learn what random events may trigger a pay increase: exceeding company-wide sales goals, achieving record profits, completing a major project, or landing a big contract? Knowing when to strike is as important as knowing how to strike.

Curious what your next actions should be?

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About the Author
Dr. Brad Smith serves as the International Director of Business Development for PeopleKeys Corporation and can be reached at