At Work

How to ask for a pay rise and get a bonus

Celebrate the New Year with a new pay scale (and a bonus too!) Celebrate the New Year with a new pay scale (and a bonus too!)

It's now December and year-end is just round the corner. It's also time for reflection about what you have achieved in your current job and what your plans are for next year in terms of your career path.

Taking some time to make such plans is a great way to ensure that you have set yourself in the right direction and how a well-crafted road map can lead you to your outcomes or objectives.

As with every plan, you need to give yourself some private time to set your thoughts in the right direction. Start with choosing a quiet place and give yourself ample time to relax and focus on how the current year has been and what lies ahead that you wish to see happening. Let's look at how you can successfully ask for a pay rise from your bosses if you had met and exceeded your targets and agreed KPIs.

Current year reflection is a measure of your achievements

You will need to execute a list which contains information (in bullet points may be sufficient) of the scope of work that you have done during this year and what were the results.

Crafting the list of achievements for the year

Start on a monthly overview e.g. January before you proceed to February. That way, you will not miss out any important information for that list. Have the list in a format which details the following in its respective columns:


a. From January till November or December if you can already predict the results or outcome.

Projects and assignment

a. Note that it cannot be your daily task of following up on calls to clients but must be a sales lead that translated to an actual sales win

b. It can be a group project or one which you did individually

People involved

a. If it was a group project, list down the names of your colleagues for clarity

b. List down your role in the project e.g. principal driver or customer liaison person, risk analyst planner (your actual role in the group)

Timelines/cost involved

a. Duration from start to completion of project or assignment e.g. weeks or months

b. It could even be completed in a few days time

c. If there were cost investment required which is beyond the time spent on carrying out this programme, place the cost into the column e.g. marketing budget of RM12,000.

Objective of the project and assignment

a. What needed to be achieved from this project before it was kick-started

b. What were the challenges or issues that were required to be resolved?

c. What was the sales target in terms of revenue that needed to be realised?

Outcome/results achieved

a. The return-on-investment is critical in this column

b. List down the measurable results to be effective e.g.

i. If time was an essence, completion within or earlier than the duration expected or given

ii. If revenue was the outcome, place the amount/value into your outcomes

iii. If cost savings was involved, list down the amount /value saved


Chart a simple graph to show your progress on a month-to-month basis based on the agreed KPIs and where you are at now. If you have been with the company for more than two years, create a comparison analysis on your year-to-year progress to showcase your growth. Charts or graphs are easier to read and it gives a clear overview of the results quickly.

What is very important is that the information in that list must be real and a true reflection of what was achieved. Do not list down information which you cannot prove or which is untrue. Be mindful that it's not about having a long grocery list but a list which is impactful in terms of outcomes and results. If there was nothing significant in that month, go to the next month and only list the effective and efficient details in your list.

If your company does not have a performance review/appraisal fixed for year-end, set an appointment with your immediate boss to have that discussion. Be proactive in your approach.

During the discussion, have an open mind that your list may be challenged. Approach your discussion with your boss on a professional manner and never argue your points.

Be diplomatic and highlight the points that you have in your list. Reaffirm your points with facts and in some cases, walk your boss through how it was achieved and the process that was involved.

You may not be the only subordinate your boss has, so, he may not recall each and every project of all his subordinates or the results attached to it. It is advisable to have the discussion with a state of mind that you are showcasing your achievements and not out to prove your boss wrong or to boast of your achievements.

If you know that you have achieved many milestones and have been a star performer, always be humble in your demeanour. Do not be boastful about your achievements or downplay the role of your colleagues on any group projects.

Group projects are always achievable as a result of teamwork no matter how small a role someone else plays. It would be good to share credit on some of the successes by naming some colleagues who had played a critical part in your project list. This reflects your maturity and openness to share credit where it's due. It also shows that you have leadership qualities and values teamwork.

When you ask for a pay rise, you also need to be mindful of the company's performance for the year. Ask yourself if the company has achieved better performance results compared to last year as a benchmark or if your company has achieved the performance results/profits that was targeted at the start of the year based on your CEO/management's direction for the year.

Look internally at your achievement and do a quick Conclusion (as per the list requirements above) on your progress month on month and if possible, compare that with last year's progress. If your company has suffered losses this year, generally it is advisable not to ask for a pay rise. Employees who show loyalty to a company during challenging times will be valued and there are also other ways to measure how the company and its management treat you beyond the pay rise; rewards and recognition (extra annual leave, awards), good health plan, training and development programme which provided upskilling and personal growth.

Do some research on salary ranges before asking for a pay rise as your pay rise needs to be realistic and based on market rate. Never ask for a pay rise that is unreasonable or which you know the company cannot agree to. Be willing to accept a compromise during the discussion and open yourself to different solutions offered by the company.

As much as we wish to have what our heart desires, there are times we have to face the reality of rejection. If you are successful in getting that pay rise, congratulations but to those who are not successful, do not accept it as a failure or an end to a means.

Things happen for a reason and it may be a call for you to take charge of your own achievements, on your skill sets and, at times, it may be reasons beyond your control such as the company's poor performance as a whole.

Melissa feels that those who invest in their careers do not view salary as the only priority but the job satisfaction and meaningful friendships forged with colleagues and bosses as critical aspects for long-term career fulfilment. Article extracted from 'Talking HR with Melissa Norman,' StarBiz