Join Africa's fastest growing career community!


Your Manager Declined Your Request for a Salary Raise? Here’s What You Should do Next

Let’s be honest…when you’re preparing to request for a salary raise, you go in half-expecting a yes, especially when you have the evidence to back it up. But what will you do next if your boss refuses your request? Read on to see how to go about it.

Article Preview Image

Let’s be honest…when you’re preparing to request for a salary raise, you go in half-expecting a yes, especially when you have the evidence to back it up. But what will you do next if your boss refuses your request? Read on to see how to go about it.


Asking your boss for a salary raise is a rite of passage in everyone’s professional life. It is something you should come thoroughly prepared for, with all the necessary evidence to back your case. When you come prepared, it is easier for your manager to consider your request for a salary raise and possibly even give you one.

However, what happens when you’ve prepared, collected, and packaged your data and presented it well but your boss still says no to your request for a salary raise? Of course, you’ll sit across from your manager shocked and wondering how in a million years that could have happened to you. After all, you were sure it would definitely work in your favour. 

Well, it didn’t. What are the next steps you should or will take? Let’s discuss your next course of action when your manager rejects your request for a salary raise. 


What to do while you’re still in the room…

Once you’ve finished pleading your case to your boss about why you’re asking for a salary raise and they say no, a lot will go through your mind. Resist the urge to just sit there in shock. You’ll need to act fast. What you say and do next may determine whether or not things change in your favour during that meeting. 

Follow up and get more details 

First and most importantly, try to find out why your boss is unable to give you a salary raise, specifically if they haven’t given you a clear reason for their refusal. Asking your boss open-ended questions during the conversation such as, “What’s contributing to your decision?” will help you learn more about the situation. Also something like, “I’d like to get a better understanding for why my request wasn’t granted. Is there something I can do better or more of?” This will help you get more details on whether the decision was based on something you could have done performance-wise or other factors within the company like budgeting. It could even be the timing of your request working against you. 

Brainstorm out-of-the-box alternatives 

If your boss gives you a reason based on problems within the company, you can brainstorm creative solutions to try and solve them. Make sure your solutions/alternatives are achievable or feasible so your manager is more likely to agree to them. 

You can also try to negotiate for other benefits if finances are the issue. For example, if your boss says there’s no room in the budget for your raise this quarter, you could suggest if they are open to allowing you to work remotely for a couple of days during the week. This could help you cut down on your commute hours at no cost to the company while improving your quality of life. See? A win-win. Look into non-monetary benefits which can make your work situation more satisfactory or comfortable like extra time off. 

Ask about variable pay as well. This could be a bonus associated with a specific project. You can ask your boss whether completing a specific project and hitting target metrics could warrant another conversation about a bonus. This way your supervisor will bite the bait but only if you do a good job on this project. 

Ask for constructive feedback

Ask your boss to give you productive feedback on what you can do better to get an increase next time. This shows you are forward-thinking and genuinely interested in improvement. Determine where you need to meet expectations in your performance, what your boss would like to see from you going forward, and your weak points. You can do this during the meeting or in your follow-up email afterwards. 

Take this opportunity to also find out if you can offer better metrics to track your performance next time. Sometimes when employees request for a salary raise from their employers, they may present it based on their own needs. However, asking for a salary increase is more about your contribution and the value you bring to the company, instead of your personal situation. 

A good place to start next time you’re asking for a salary increase is by looking at your job description. Monitor and track the areas where you did everything and more to add value. This way you’ll have good results and metrics to back it up next time. 


What to do after you leave the room…

After the meeting with your manager, you might be tempted to retreat into a dark corner and not do any work in retaliation. Resist the urge to do so. Here’s what you should do instead…

Take some downtime to recover and focus on your wins

You’ll experience a lot of negative thoughts and emotions after your boss denies your request for a salary raise. It’s important to keep a handle on things and maintain your composure until you get home so you can process everything. Avoid doing anything impulsive or hasty like lashing out at your boss or telling everyone in the office about the matter. This can ruin your chances in case you decide to ask for a raise next time. 

Instead, take a step back to reset and take your mind off the negativity by doing something that will calm you down. In the same spirit, don’t forget to acknowledge the goals and successes you had achieved before then. This will give you the motivation to keep growing and improving as you celebrate your wins. A little bit of self-care will also help you process your emotions and refocus on your next action plan.

Establish an action plan and set goals

Remember that feedback your boss gave you? Now it’s time to use it along with the other points of improvement you received. You’re going to create an action plan with achievable targets based on your feedback so you can have a better chance of crushing your goals. You can share this plan with your manager to show you're serious about putting in the work to get a salary increase next time. 

Make yourself unforgettable by being indispensable going forward and going the extra mile to deliver top-notch results making your whole team look good. 

(PS: Don’t forget to give yourself a small reward every time you hit one of the milestones in your action plan.)

Get support

This is a good time to lean on your mentor for support. They can give you inspiration and encouragement while also offering you a different perspective on why your boss refused your request. Hearing things from someone else’s point of view can help you stay positive, focused, and energized as you work on your action plan. 

Decide whether you want to leave

In certain cases, some employees may feel that nothing they do in the company will get them a salary increase because the higher-ups just don’t want to give one. If this is the case, then it might be time to seek greener pastures in another company where you can get better compensation. 

However, before you leave consider ALL the benefits the new role will offer; this could be the opportunity to handle greater responsibilities, or something that can get you closer to your professional end goal. 

In closing… 

If your boss says no to a salary increase, it shouldn’t be the end of your world or your career. Look at it as an opportunity for development and growth instead of a failure. Just remember not to burn bridges because you might need to dip your toe into that pool of opportunity again in the future. 

Written by

Sandra Musonge

Sandra Musonge is a part-time writer at Fuzu with over five years of experience under her belt, helping numerous B2B and B2C clients with their content needs. She writes to inspire and not just to inform. Her educational background in Biochemistry has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. You can find her enjoying nature or trying out new recipes when she isn't writing.

Give a like!


Sign in to read comments and engage with the Fuzu community.

Login or Create a Free Account