How should I respond to a Low Salary hike after performing well?

How should I respond to a low salary hike after performing well?

How should I respond to a Low Salary hike after performing well?

How should I respond to a Low Salary hike after performing well?
How should I respond to a Low Salary hike after performing well?

A low salary hike not only disappoints you, but it bothers you for the entire year if you believe you deserve a higher raise.

No matter how satisfied you are with your current salary, the low salary hike fills you with so much dissatisfaction that you lose your happiness for the hike that you still made in comparison to your previous salary. 

Your attention is grabbed by the prefix “low” and you forget about the hike.

The feeling of disappointment is felt so deep that you even fail to avoid it coming to the surface. 

The child inside you is tickled and it starts disturbing the thermostat that controls your emotions.

You lose all of yourself.

Your mind fails to process and think about what might have been the reason for your low salary hike. It gets flooded with emotions of negativity, sadness, and maybe even resentment.


Two perceptions of a low Salary Hike disappointment

There are two perceptions of a low salary hike disappointment:

  • One is when you expect a certain hike as per the company standards.
  • Second is when you find that you are given a low salary hike in comparison to your teammates.

If you are in the first category, your expectation is fixed, it does not deviate from how the overall salary hikes of other employees are. You expect a certain percentage hike as per the company’s standards. If it meets, you are fine. And if it does not, you feel the disappointment. 

Whereas if you fall into the second category, you have no fixed expectations. Your expectation depends upon the salary hikes of all the other employees. 

You will be happy with a low hike if everyone around is having a similar hike but if your salary hike is way lower than others, it slaps you in the face.

So, if you are reading this, before jumping to the next section of the blog, I want you to figure out what category of low salary hike disappointment you fall into.


Employer’s expectation vs employee’s perception of a good Performance

There has never been a performance where the performer himself /herself judges the performance.

Employer’s Expectation: In an organization, the employer holds the control to judge the performance of its employee just like a teacher examines the student’s performance.

There are numerous standard parameters on which an employer rates its employees’ performance. No matter what increment rates are set by the organization, there are many other deciding factors that contribute to the final rating of the employee.

For one complete year, the employee is not only assessed for the work done but how efficiently and error-proof work was delivered in the stipulated time.

Besides this assessment, the employee is also monitored for his/her behavior, interpersonal relationships and comparative performance of the employees.

Employee’s perception: An employee on the other hand looks at the graph with a completely different perception.

He/she only looks at how was his/her performance but is blindfolded to how the others in the team performed, how the interaction of others was with their boss, management, and organization, and how obsequiously the others worked for the entire year.

Hence, A panel of authorities decides what salary hike the Employees deserve.


What reasons contribute to a low salary hike?

A low salary hike does not necessarily mean a below-average performance.

There can be numerous reasons contributing to a low salary hike even when you have performed well as per your judgment.

Some of the reasons that I could think of are:

Emotions of Boss can also be triggered:

Expecting a boss to always judge you on the parameters of work will be foolish. There are chances that your boss might be put off by the argument that you had in the passing year. The boss might not have been able to come over the argument, thus having some sort of rigidness towards you. 

It does not mean that this will always lead to a low salary hike but there are chances that the argument might be one of the contributing factors.

No matter who was right or wrong in the argument, what matters is that your Boss was disrespected and that is enough to get you a black spot in your performance.

No, you don’t have to flatter your boss. You just have to give respect and in case the boss is wrong, you just have to convey what is right without hoping for him to nod in agreement.

Employer’s business is not always lucrative: There are times when the organization is not doing well as a result of which the salary hike of the employees can plummet. You need to assess how the business of your organization is going before you bump in with your weird reaction to a low salary hike.

Unscrupulous work ethics                                   This is one major factor that could land you a low salary hike. More than the great output, what matters is how ethically you performed your work. 

Some plague other employees for their benefits and try fooling the employer with their final result. 

But the reality never remains hidden for long. If you have intended to show more work than actually doing it, you are walking downhill on your growth ladder. And the sad part is that you have habituated yourself to such a kind of work ethic which is jeopardizing and fooling yourself.

If you are not on good terms with your team: This also affects your image. 

Nobody wants a worker with high nuisance value. So if you are constantly getting into arguments with colleagues, are complaining a lot, and are being avoided by people who don’t want to work with you, it’s cinch you are not high on the list of candidates being considered for an increment or a promotion 

Failing to work with your team has a cascading effect on your performance graph. There are times when certain projects require collaboration, solidarity, and cognitive involvement with the team and if you are someone who shows dissonance with the team, there is a higher possibility of low salary raise.

If you want a raise, develop people skills and make yourself likable.

Doing only that much of what is expected from you is not enough to stand out:

As the famous saying by A. Lou. Vickery goes,

Four short words sum up what has lifted most individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected and a little bit more.

So, expecting a great salary hike by doing only the tasks that were given to you does not make you deserving of it. 

One sign of being a mediocre performer is that you only do what you are supposed to do. 

If you routinely and enthusiastically go beyond your defined set of duties and responsibilities, you will not only be noticed and appreciated but also get a raise. So if you have been ignored for an increment in the past few years, analyze your performance and make sure you’re not a mediocre worker. 

You might have shown cold denials to learn new skills:                                                                  There might be situations when you would have refused to learn anything new just because you wanted to be at arm’s distance from any new projects or tasks coming your way. Doing things that you have become comfortable with and not allowing yourself to get out of your comfort zone to take on new tasks that demand your extra effort is one big sign of a low salary hike.


How do you know that you performed well?

Before getting to the salary hike, I want you to answer this for yourself.

How do you know that you performed well?

How does the increment letter that you have just received make you realize that you have not got a hike as per your performance?

Did you find your hike low in comparison to your team members or you had a fixed percentage in mind that you were hoping for?

Do you think you are the best judge or critic for your performance that the mere peek at the letter made you nuts with it?

I want you to understand a very basic thing. Just imagine for a moment that your child is giving an exam in school.

Your child works hard and scores excellent grades in all subjects.

Now there is another child who does not score as much as your child scores.

Does that mean the child who scored less will question anyone other than oneself for scoring less?

The performance of the child was monitored through an exam so things look biased and transparent to all the parents.

But now when it is about you as an employee, who is a complete adult, working for a living, and looking after a family, you are expected to be wiser, mature, and evolved, hence no exam is conducted to check your performance. 

Your performance is monitored over the entire year, and you are assessed on various company standards as well as how better or worse you performed in comparison to others. 

The other side to this is, even if one child scored the most, it does not confirm him/her as the best performer of the year.

As the best performance does not limit to only academics, it includes many other parameters. So the best scorer or someone who is just doing great in numbers does not mean will be the best performer.

In the same way, you might have done great work, delivered all your duties, and completed your projects but that is not enough for the best performance.

A great salary hike is based on your comprehensive performance which includes your work ethic, your attitude, your people interaction, your behavior, your dedication, your intention, and above all your humanity.


Do the homework to find out why you feel you got a low salary hike before you Respond to it.

So now that you have received your increment letter, opened the letter, and gone through the letter, what made you decide that the salary hike was not according to your performance?

Find out what category of disappointment as mentioned above you belong to.

Did you feel the hike less in comparison to others or you had a fixed percentage in mind that you felt you deserved?

After finding the category of disappointment you belong to, take a pause. Don’t rush.

Take time to absorb and accept what you had not expected at least to get yourself out of the wild resentment of the moment.

The idea is not to settle down for less when you deserve more, the aim is that you don’t botch the situation and make it worse with your bitter and wild reactions.

Reacting to a low salary hike without reflecting on yourself can downgrade your image and put you regret.

If you react instantly to the disappointment of your low salary hike, it is not a thought-over reaction and it can make you blurt out something very stupid, putting you in a more disturbing state.

Chances are you will go home miserable.

 Our minds can be constructive if they are given time to think about things and they can be extremely destructive if they are allowed to react without thinking.

So, If the increment letter has put you off, the next step should be to find out why you were expecting more than what you got.

And then ponder over all the possible and contributing factors discussed above to find which one of them was a reason for you.

Take a week at least to find out what went wrong.

You have to understand the fact that demanding will not be the solution, fighting with your boss will not get you your hike, and blurting out in front of other colleagues will not help you gain sympathy.

 What can help you in this state is your wise move. 

Choosing to not react but doing your homework before responding to the low salary hike can make even your superiors think twice about the harebrained judgment they made while deciding the hike for you.

If after this self-reflection you come up with a valid reason for having a low salary hike, Your next step is to start making amendments to improve your performance for your next year.

But if you still feel dissatisfied with the hike and find no reason to be underpaid, Go ahead for a healthy discussion with your Boss.


4 steps to respond to a low Salary hike

 1. Approach your immediate Boss and now that you have taken enough time to calm down your disappointment, you are in a state where you will have a healthy discussion regarding the whole issue. You will now speak with rationality and not with an overdose of emotions.

 The first thing to put on the table is not to question your boss why you were given a low salary hike but instead come up with a humble statement, ” As I Am not satisfied with my salary hike, may I know where I lacked in my performance?”

Be kind but straightforward. Thank your boss for the salary bump and recognition they’ve already given you, and then explain why you believe the number should be reconsidered. Share your big accomplishments, as well as the salary data you’ve gathered, to back up why you would like your Boss to reconsider your raise.

Having said that, listen patiently to what your boss comes up with.

2. The next step is to find out if it is a performance issue or a budgetary constraint.  If it’s a performance issue and you feel justified with the reasons your boss explains to you, treat this meeting as an opportunity to develop clear goals with your boss. Even better, ask your boss to help you map out a plan or a timeline for you to reach those goals and potentially revisit the conversation. 

Ask how your boss can help you achieve the salary hike that you truly wish to have. Ask for suggestions and feedback so that you can reframe your mind for a better and escalating output.

3. And if it’s solely a budgetary issue, ask your Boss when you can realistically revisit the conversation. In this scenario, you may even consider seeing if the company would be open to compensating you with a different kind of reward to recognize your strong performance:  an end-of-the-year bonus, extra time off, or more flexibility around your work hours.

4. But in case you are in complete denial with the justification of your boss, you feel some sort of biases, your gut does not feel right with everything that happened, you feel that you have been treated less, you feel that you are being perpetually “dragged along,” your next move should be to move on.

If you know you deserve a high raise and look forward to flourishing in your career, this is the sign to move on. Start planning to find new opportunities and prepare for them. Your potential is enormous, don’t let such situations cramp your zeal to perform stupendously.

 I would conclude this post by sharing a wise perspective with you that your low salary hike will not make your career graph go downhill but it is an indication for you to explore and leverage your potential beyond your comfort zone. 

A great career is not built by having perpetual successes. But only when you embrace all the concomitant failures and hurdles that come along with it, your career shines.

Hi! This is Sarita Mian.

Welcome to The Locks and Keys where “Little will be valued and Huge shall be contained”



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