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Ryanair boss shows how to best go about getting that pay rise

The Life: Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, shows both the right and wrong way to ask for a pay rise.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, feels he is underpaid despite a salary of €1.2 million. Jason Alden / Bloomberg News
Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, feels he is underpaid despite a salary of €1.2 million. Jason Alden / Bloomberg News

Michael O'Leary is one of Ireland's richest businessmen, but if you ask him, he's underpaid.

"I'm paid about 20 times more than the average employee and I think that gap should be wider," the chief executive of Ryanair told Management Today. "I probably work 50 times harder."

Mr O'Leary added that he was paid €1.2 million (Dh5.7m) last year for carrying 80 million passengers, while Aer Lingus's boss, Christoph Mueller, got €1.3m for carrying only nine million.

Below, two workplace experts assess Mr O'Leary's request for a pay rise and offer tips on the best way to achieve the desired result.

Is he being smart about it?

A very public complaint is probably a good example of how not to request a pay rise. But at least Mr O'Leary did one thing right: he researched what other people in similar positions earn.

"Make sure you know your market value," says Amanda White, the managing director of Innovative HR Solutions in Dubai.

"You can find this out online, through recruitment agencies, in salary surveys or job boards. Have examples ready of how you have contributed throughout the year and talk about how you believe you can continue to add value," she adds.

Then what?

You must also have a legitimate reason to ask for the rise, says Sandi Mann, a senior lecturer in psychology at England's University of Central Lancashire and the author of Managing Your Boss.

Good reasons do not include the fact that a colleague received a raise or that you have been with a company for a long time, she says.

Legitimate reasons, she says, include having been given more responsibility, working longer hours or having gained relevant new skills.

How should I go about requesting such a meeting?

Don't do so at 5.30pm or when everyone else is around, Ms White advises.

"Say, 'Can I talk to you for a moment. I have something that is important to me to talk about. Do you have the time to do that now?'" she says. "Immediately you're setting the scene that something important is about to happen."

Once you are in the meeting, start by saying that you have researched the issue carefully and would like to address the issue of your pay.

"Say, 'I have done some market research and it suggests that X is an appropriate amount'," Ms White suggests.

What should I avoid doing?

Unless you intend to follow through, never threaten to leave if you do not get the raise.

"Many bosses will be irritated by such threats and may well take you up on your offer," Ms Mann writes.

And if your boss says no, Ms Mann suggests finding out what you could do to become more deserving.

And whatever you do, do not give up and let your performance slip.

"Carry on with good intentions and ask what you need to do to get a pay rise in the future," says Ms White.

gduncan@thenational.ae