March 12, 2021

Compensation: Having the conversation Bravely

Bravely supports people all at all levels of their organizations in confidently approaching the tough-but-necessary conversations that shape our lives at work. For people early in their careers, conversations about pay can be among the most daunting. 

No matter how much meaning you get from your work, pay still plays a role in your satisfaction. Everyone wants a fair salary that reflects their value to the organization, but getting there often takes a little legwork. Here are our tips for approaching conversations about compensation with your manager.

Set your “why”

Take a moment to think about your motivation for bringing up your salary with your manager. No matter the answer, remember that your compensation is ultimately about your contributions to the company. Approaching the conversation in these terms (“My pay should be aligned with my value to the organization”) can help you keep your cool throughout, leading to a better result!

Come prepared

You should enter the conversation knowing the outcome you’re seeking and your justification for that outcome. Start by understanding your company’s existing structures for evaluating performance and setting pay. Research the pay rate for job titles like yours in your industry. Show your manager that you’ve thought about this and done your homework.

Own your wins

Set the right tone for the conversation: talk about your record of performance and exceeding goals, how you’ve gone above and beyond your job description, and evidence of your commitment to the company’s mission. Be specific: what were the metrics of success, and what were the results you achieved? Think especially about accomplishments your manager might not be aware of, along with those that illustrate the way your contribution can grow.


You know yourself and how you react in stressful situations. Be honest with yourself about how nervous you might be, and then practice a little more than you think you need to. Confidence matters in this situation: if it sounds like you don’t believe you’ve earned a raise, your manager won’t believe it, either. Role-play the conversation with a trusted mentor, friend, or Bravely coach, and bring notes to guide yourself through your main points.


Despite your best efforts, your manager can still say, “No.” Be prepared for this: it’s not a failure, and it’s not the end of the conversation. Try to agree on a solution that works for both of you, whether that’s a smaller increase, other forms of compensation (including PTO, equity, or benefits), or a specific and time-bound set of objectives to be met to earn a pay raise.

Final Pro Tip: If your compensation isn’t meeting your expectations, you can only reach a productive solution if you talk about it.

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