Note from Art: I’m thrilled to feature this guest article from Anita Lauper Wood. Anita is a long-time product management professional and strategy expert and is a valued co-creator of a number of our online courses and programs at Art Petty Group.

Anita and I are live on  7/16 at 11 AM Central, presenting our free webinar: Why You Need to Grow Your Influence to Accelerate Your Career Growth

Why is asking for a raise or promotion so difficult and sometimes scary?

It is not something you do on a regular basis, and there are many complexities involved, including a lack of transparency of the information you really need. It’s no wonder most people struggle to get what they want when it comes to asking for a raise or earning a promotion. This infrequent opportunity has lasting impact on the rest of your career; subsequent raises and promotions will be impacted, as well as things like retirement savings.

It’s important to get it right.

You Need a Plan

Even if you have worked hard and love everything about your organization and your boss, making the ask has to be deliberately planned to get the ultimate results. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is waiting too long to start planning and preparing. I don’t mean preparing for next week’s review meeting but rather preparing your environment. What do I mean by that? One of my mentors early in my career told me something I remember to this day: “Every encounter is a potential job interview.

Everything you do in the workplace should build up to your ask for a raise or promotion. This means:

  • Building your network (internal and external)
  • Building your reputation and credibility
  • Solving problems that cause your boss headaches
  • Demonstrating you can handle difficult situations, making solid decisions

That’s a lot, so make that plan! Dorie Clark said it well in her article “A Campaign Strategy for Your Career” (Harvard Business Review, tiered subscription model): “Set clear goals, reach out to supporters, build and exercise influence, and then execute relentlessly to achieve your ambitions. In short, you can devise a campaign plan for your career.

Don’t Overlook Advocating for Yourself

Most importantly, you have to become extremely skilled at advocating for yourself, starting long before it’s time to ask for the raise or promotion. Self-advocacy alone is complex, with many potential obstacles—most self-inflicted, but some gender or culture related. Becoming more comfortable with advocating for yourself will make it seem natural when you ask for the raise or promotion, not only for you but for your boss.

If you are not comfortable tooting your own horn, there are other ways to get just the right amount of recognition. For example, find opportunities to present or communicate successes, both internally and externally. Your team may have delivered an exceptional product. Find every way possible to share that story because it will also reflect positively on you.

Another simple tactic is to include recent successes when presenting or communicating future plans. For example, my product roadmaps always include past roadmap items that were successfully delivered. Not only does that provide a reminder of what is available, but it shines the light on your and your team’s accomplishments.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

It’s time to reframe your thinking, as Art would put it, and take control of the obstacles. This will only increase your chances of success when asking for a raise or going after that promotion. Preparing to ask for a raise or promotion should start long before your review meeting.