small law firm employee wants raiseIt’s inevitable: every employee will eventually drop that pay raise bomb on you. We’ve seen it a thousand times: an employee builds up a laundry list of grudges—I’ve done this, this and that and never get recognized for my hard work and no one appreciates me—and they march into your office and lay out reason after reason why they deserve a raise. And the truth is…not only can your small law firm really not afford to dole out a raise right now, but you’re not sure your employee truly deserves one. In fact, if your employee did deserve one, you’d happily grant them their wish…even if it added financial stress to your firm.

Regardless of your firm’s financial standing and the actual performance of your employee, though, you do have to address the request. And the first step in doing this, is determining whether or not your employee actually deserves a raise.

How to Determine Whether Your Employee Even Deserves a Raise

Ask yourself the following questions before you deny or honor your employee’s pay increase request:

1. Does your employee absolutely dominate in their position? The operative word here is “dominate.” If your employee does the job that is expected of them—even if they do a fine job of it—that is not enough to earn a raise. To earn a raise, your employee needs to consistently over-perform. Period.

2. Does your employee bite off more than they can chew? Employees who deserve raises step up and take it upon themselves to solve big problems. The biggest problems, in fact. Self-motivated problem solvers deserve raises.

3. Has your employee been dominating their role, over-performing, and solving big problems for a while now? Good things come to those who wait. Early in their careers, the younger generation of employees should be concerned with one thing: gaining real-world experience. A lot of it. Has your employee saved enough in their experience bank to necessitate a raise? Or are they being a bit impatient?

Now, How to Address the Situation—One Way or Another

Based on your answers to the above questions, you’ve decided whether or not your employee deserves a raise. Even if the answer is a resounding “no way, you have absolutely not earned a raise,” you must take the request seriously. Your employee has likely been stressing out big time about having this conversation with you. You can alleviate some of this stress by accepting their invitation for a performance review (or however they choose to broach the subject) and not pushing the meeting back, over and over again, which many managers tend to do to delay the inevitable.

When you do meet with your employee, listen to what they have to say, and their reasons for asking for a raise. Be prepared to respond with details about the employee’s past performance, good and bad, as well as information about the average salary of an employee in their role.

Granting your employee a raise isn’t always an option, but there are many alternatives that can be just as desirable: more flex time, more paid time off, the flexibility to work from home, a right-up-front parking spot, etc.

However, one of the best ways to show an employee that you value them, and want to see them succeed in their career, is to offer expanded training and development. This is a win-win, because your employee will be given tools and techniques to succeed in their position (and truly earn a raise) while your law firm will reap the benefits of the employee’s newly-developed and expanded skill set. If you need any support, schedule a complimentary diagnostic call with us—just click the button below to schedule your call.

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