How do you ask for something that you want at work and actually get it?! 

Whether you’re looking to ask for a salary increase, a title change or promotion, a training opportunity, or if you’re wanting to restructure your work week; how do you ask for what you want at work – and actually get it? 

Over the years, I have been witness to, or have been on the receiving end, of hundreds of requests for things like pay-rises, promotions, training opportunities, secondments and many, many more. 

There has always been something interesting to me about the requests that got up, versus the requests that didn’t. 

Below, I’ll outline some tips that can help you get what YOU want at work. 

How to Get What You Want at Work: Tips for Success

Here are some practical steps to ask for what you want in the workplace:

Be effective in articulating what you want.

From my experience, for the people that got what they wanted at work, it often came down to the way that they articulated it. Certainly, performance plays a significant part, but those people who could effectively articulate what they wanted are those who also knew how to frame it. They were prepared. They had considered the benefits of what they were asking (not just for themselves, but for the organisation as well), and why they should get it.

But, before you actually go and have that conversation with your boss or manager, there are some things that I think are really important for you to reflect on first:

  • Start with the end in mind. Get clear about what you want and why. Before you approach your boss or manager, spend some time figuring out exactly what it is you want. What is it that you’re actually asking for? And how important is it to you? Is it non-negotiable? 

If you do get what you’re asking for, think about how that will affect you – will it inspire and further motivate you to improve your skills? And what about if you don’t get it – would you still be in the position where you feel like you can show up, or will you want to look elsewhere? Start with the end in mind and be really clear on what it is you’re asking for and why it matters to you. 

  • Communicate your message properly. Communicate your request in such a way that those hearing your message are hearing it from the lens that they need to hear it; not just from the lens of how you want to deliver it. This is a very useful tip, not just for asking for what you want at work, but in all of the ways we communicate and when we’re trying to communicate with influence.
  • Do the work. Do the work that is involved with asking for something that you want. Preparation is key. If you really want to put your best foot forward and get what you want, then put the time in upfront to maximise your chances of getting it. 

What does that look like? That looks like assessing your current performance and getting honest with yourself. For instance, don’t just go up to your boss or manager and immediately ask for a raise without any justification behind it. If you know you’re asking for a salary increase, go out and do some market research – and make sure you’re comparing it to similar industries. Look for similar roles in similar-sized businesses in the industry you’re in. Is your salary in line with the standard for others? If not, you may be able to use it as justification for a pay request. 

Consider potential barriers to your request.

Think ahead and anticipate what barriers there are that could hinder you from getting what you want at work. Let’s say for example, you’re asking to reduce to a 4-day work week, but you still want to be paid at a full time salary. Anticipate questions from your manager, such as: “How will you manage certain meetings that might land on the day that you want to have off?” or “How will you manage responses to your customers, or your clients, or your teams on that day that you anticipate you won’t be here?” 

Think ahead, anticipate the barriers that you could be presented with, and then communicate those in your pitch.  This demonstrates that you really have stepped back and thought about why this can work, why you deserve this, and why the organisation or your manager should get on board with it.

Put pen to paper on what your request actually is – and submit it to your manager or boss.

Personally, I’m a big fan of getting your thoughts together, putting it in writing, and sending that to your manager ahead of time. This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it ensures that you’re able to put your best foot forward and communicate in the way that you want to from the get go. Secondly, this way you’re not blindsiding your manager; you’re sending them this information, with all of your research ahead of time, and you’re saying to them, “I wanted to get all of this to you, and give you some time to read through it and digest it. Then we can sit down and expand on that further in a conversation.” They’re going to feel like you have respected them enough to give them time to absorb your request, and then prepare for that conversation as well.

Be present during the conversation (and practice ahead of time!).

Practice, practice, practice, how you want to show up in that conversation. Have a clear outline of what you want to say, the justifications for your request, and prepare for any and all questions that your boss or manager might have. 

On the day of the meeting, take a few moments to breathe without distractions to get into a relaxed and positive mindset. Get to the room early (or the call early) if you can, so that you are 'owning' the space. Make sure you are as calm and as prepared as possible. And during the conversation, make a point of listening to what your boss or manager is saying. Don’t be too preoccupied with your own thoughts and worries, and fail to be truly present. 

The Bottom Line

Those are just some tips on how you can ask for what you want at work – and actually get it. The key to success here is working through each stage of your request in terms of the before, during and after stages.  Although you don’t only get one chance to ask for something you want, you do only get one chance to put your best foot forward - so invest in yourself and do the work. 

If you want more tips and strategies I suggest to help you with your request then listen to the full podcast episode here!


If you REALLY want to help yourself, grab my eBook, “Get What You Want at Work” for useful checklists, email templates, practical activities to help you prepare, and tips that will teach you how to get what you want.