Be Ready to Negotiate
If your boss doesn’t agree to your suggested pay increase, you should negotiate.
Before you go into your meeting, know what you’re willing to give up and what’s critical for your long-term happiness at the company. Consider things like other benefits (time off, stock options, etc.), and calculate how much these benefits are worth to you.
Be prepared to be told “no one in the company gets more than our standard increase of X.” In response, you should ask, “What provisions are being made for exceptional employees?” Make your supervisor justify her position–she just might be flexible and say, “I’ll see what I can do.” One acceptable solution might be to give you another merit increase sooner than is typically scheduled–say, in six months instead of one year.
If your boss tells you her hands are tied, and she can’t possibly give you what you’re asking–or any additional benefits–you have a choice to make. If you know your skills are worth more on the open market, maybe it’s time to shop around and look for another job. But if you’re otherwise happy in your position and have the opportunity for advancement, you may want to stick it out. Salary policies may change down the road, and in the meantime, you’re enjoying your work and learning skills that will make you more marketable should when you decide to leave.