If you’re a strong employee, you know that you need to at least meet or exceed expectations to earn a periodic raise. But what if you want to go further than that and prove you’re worth keeping around for good and possibly even promoting to a higher-paying position? The path may not be spelled out for you, so you’re going to have to take some proactive steps before you approach your boss for a performance-based pay bump.

Below, 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share stories of the last raise or promotion they gave to an employee and why that person’s achievements commanded their attention.


1. Clearly Outline How You Will Rise to the Occasion

One of our recent promotions came from a young lady who proactively scheduled a meeting with us (outside our normal review schedule) and outlined exactly why she thought she was worth 20% more than she was being paid. She admitted that she had a number of things to work on, had a plan to get better at them, and was honest. She got the promotion that afternoon.

Brennan White, Cortex


2. Establish Yourself as a Leader

The last person I promoted established himself as someone the rest of the team could go to with issues or concerns. Carving out a responsible leadership role on his own on a daily basis earned him a promotion. This allowed for a natural promotion even before the title and raise in salary had been processed.

Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind


3. Help Others Grow

We’re often quick to promote people who do things we don’t expect in a positive way. Taking ownership of your position and wanting to see everyone around you succeed just as much as you do is important. When employees do more than what’s expected to lift the company both in terms of driving revenue and building the culture, we want to keep them around and empower them to continue to help us grow.

Brock Stechman, DivvyHQ


4. Step Up (When You Don’t Have To)

We recently fired a production manager in our company. Our newer and less seasoned production manager was then faced with taking on the load of that employee as well as his own. He stepped up and took on the task. Not only did he do it well, he did it better than the previous employee. And he expected nothing in return. This stepping up promoted him to senior production manager.

Matt Shoup, MattShoup.com


5. Do Your Boss’ Job

I started my career as a (very happy) consultant with Deloitte. There, to be promoted, you need to ‘do your boss’ job.’ In practice, a senior consultant needs to sell client work before she can become a manager, a job with the explicit expectation of sales. At Modify, our junior designer started to take on client work—and deliver sales—before anyone asked. The promotion decision was easy.

Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches


6. Make Your Teammates Better

When we saw that one person made the rest of her team more productive and took initiative to train and motivate others, we knew that she would be a great leader. The most important characteristics of a leader is her ability to train, motivate, and improve the team.

Randy Rayess, VenturePact


7. Demonstrate an Exceptional Work Ethic

As the company continues to grow, we’ve had several recent promotions of exceptional employees. These individuals had an outstanding work ethic; they were true leaders who shared a great passion for the company and our impact on the industry. These individuals deserved the recognition, and I am confident that the company will continue to flourish as a result of their promotions.

Sean Marszalek, SDC Nutrition, Inc.


8. Dominate the Sales Process

When someone stands out and is constantly putting in the extra work—going the extra mile to define him- or herself as a leader in a particular department—that earns a promotion or elevated title. My recently promoted employees absolutely dominated the sales process and never stopped. They stayed late, asked questions, wanted to learn, and were willing to teach others. They earned a promotion within a year.

Mark Samuel, Fitmark


9. Show You’re Ready for the Title—and the Accountability

One time I gave an officer in our company a more prestigious title so I could hold the person to a higher standard by posing questions such as, ‘What would a leader of your position choose to do in this situation?’ This person showed a readiness to take on more responsibility but needed help to take the next step and meet higher expectations.

Mina Chang, Linking the World


10. Do the Job You Want Before You Get It

I recently promoted someone to a sales management position because he showed initiative and was already doing many of the aspects of the job. He took on the role of mentor and coach and was doing extra work without holding a manager title. Because he took on the responsibility without being asked to and proved that he was capable of the job, it was a no-brainer to hire him for the position.

Ben Rubenstein, Yodle


Photo of stairs courtesy of Shutterstock.