I was promised a raise and promotion … 3 years ago

by Ask a Manager on September 5, 2012

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A reader writes:

I have am at a loss about what to do in this situation. Any advice would be great! I work for a mid-size nonprofit doing fundraising. I have been here for 3+ years now in a position that was a lateral move from my previous job. When I started, I took the same salary as my previous position because it was work I wanted to do, but was promised a raise and better title when it was available. That was three years ago, and I have not received a raise. Several people have been promoted over me, even though my performance reviews are stellar. I expressed my displeasure with this to my boss, but was always dismissed with, “The opportunity wasn’t right for your (skills, location, etc.).”

Finally, just last month, I was approached about running a new project. I was thrilled, as it came with a position bump and talks of a raise at the end of the year. It is, however, a lot more work. When I accepted, it seemed doable. Since getting more detail on the project, the scope has grown. I have done this kind of work before, but with a team of three. This will just be me doing the work of three.

One more issue. When my boss finally sat me down to explain the exact work I would be doing, she threw in there, “Oh, and your title upgrade hasn’t been approved. You will continue to have your current title,” and then continued on with all the work I would be responsible for implementing. I was so shocked I didn’t respond (not that I was given the opportunity.)

I don’t know what to do. Should I continue with the promotion that isn’t even a promotion any longer? I feel like I have shown this company loyalty for 3 years and have been fooled repeatedly by promises of credit for my work, both in title and money. I am very disheartened.

I recommend that you do three things simultaneously:

1. Start believing what they’ve been telling you for the last three years, both through their actions and their words:  They do not plan to stick to that original promise they made you. They intend to get as much work out of you as they can at your current title and salary. And while not giving someone a raise or promotion can make sense in many cases, in this case it makes them people who break their word. And not only that, they break it so cavalierly that they don’t even feel any need to go back and talk to you about it.

2. Call your boss on it. Do this politely and professionally, of course, but stand up for yourself. Say something like, “When I accepted this job three years ago, it was with the agreement that I’d receive a different title and a raise as quickly as possible (or whatever your exact arrangement was). It has been three years, and my performance evaluations have been consistently excellent. But I haven’t even had a cost of living raise, let alone one for performance or the one that was agreed to when I came on board. Now you’re asking me to take on work that was previously done by three people, which is a significant amount of responsibility — and one that I imagine must further reflect your confidence in me. When I accepted, I was told that it would come with a title bump and a raise at the end of the year. Now, though, you’re telling me that won’t be the case after all. Before we move forward with this, we need to resolve this. I think the work I’ve done so far and the work I’ll be doing warrants the title of ___ and a raise of $___.”

If she turns you down, then you have a decision to make: Do you want to take on the new work anyway (which could help you with step #3)? Or do you want to tell her that your acceptance hinged on what you were told earlier about the title and pay, and if that’s off the table, you’ll reconsider your acceptance? (Keep in mind that the latter comes with the risk that she’ll tell you it’s simply part of your job now, which she can get away with doing.)

3. Start looking for another job. No matter what happens with step #2 above, start actively job-searching. This organization and this manager have not treated you with integrity, and even if you get them to give in now, you have plenty of evidence about how they operate. It’s time to move on. Not every employer is like this; find one that isn’t.

And when you do, get any employment agreement in writing — salary, future salary reviews, promises about title changes, all of it. (Similarly, if your current employer does agree to a raise and title bump now, get that in writing too — they have a track record of ignoring promises. And if they refuse to put it in writing, assume their “agreement” with you is a sham.)

And a big-picture takeaway from this:  Three years is too long to put up with something like this without asserting yourself. Six months, fine. Three years — no. You’ve got to speak up when people are reneging on employment agreements. If you don’t, you teach them that they can continue to do that to you.

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh S September 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm

To put it bluntly, you’ve let them walk all over you for 3 years, and they’ve come to see you as someone who lets them walk all over you. Stop letting them do that. Be firm and assertive–you don’t want increased responsibility until and unless it comes with a Title Change (of your reasonable choosing) and a Raise that accounts for both the original raise that was promised and an increase for the new position responsibilities.

It’s like the question: “When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the second best time? Now.”
When is the best time to assert yourself when it comes to broken/fudged promises? From the get-go.
When is the second best time? Now.

Good luck!

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Elle September 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

“It’s like the question: “When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the second best time? Now.”
When is the best time to assert yourself when it comes to broken/fudged promises? From the get-go.
When is the second best time? Now.”

Fantastic!

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Anna September 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Agreed. If they’re not even going to give you a raise and/or title boost for doing more work — much less whatever they promised you when you signed on — don’t take on more work. If they want to pay you the same thing, do the same work. Think of it as “same work, same pay” in reverse.

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AdAgencyChick September 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

+1. Bravo.

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Karen T (KT) September 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

“When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the second best time? Now.”
When is the best time to assert yourself when it comes to broken/fudged promises? From the get-go.
When is the second best time? Now.

Officially my new favourite quote!

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Josh S September 6, 2012 at 1:06 am

Wow. New favo(u)rite quote status? I’m hono(u)red!

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Joey September 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I say do the project whether you get the increase/promotion or not. If you don’t get it you’ll have that many more feathers to put in your hat when you’re looking for other jobs. You’ll only be increasing your worth to other jobs that will recognize it.

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Ask a Manager September 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Totally agree. Do it as part of your escape plan.

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jmkenrick September 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Would it be appropriate to explain in an interview that one of the reasons that you’re looking for a new position is because you essentially received a promotion without the raise/title change?

Or would that reflect negatively on you?

I say this because I’m assuming that any place she interviews with will ask her about her salary/title, but clearly the OP wants to move up, not laterally, and might want quite a big salarly jump to make up for the last three years. I’m wondering how that would be best handled.

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Long Time Admin September 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I would say “no”. It might be better to dance around it a little bit by saying there was no room for career advancement.

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Joey September 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I don’t always believe people who say theyre looking to advance but this kind of explanation would totally back that up. And I actually think it shows the candidate is progressing faster than the current company can handle. That’s someone I want.

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Ask a Manager September 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Especially if you add, “I’ve waited three years, but now I’m ready to move on.” It shows you’re not someone who walks at the slightest provocation — it shows you were willing to stick it out and try to make it work.

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Serendipitous September 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm

And also shows that now you won’t let people walk all over you (as Josh s. encouraged above)

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Jamie September 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Yes. And if you find something better in the midst of it you owe them no more than the usual two weeks.

You can’t expect loyalty to go above and beyond when they renege on agreements.

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saro September 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Yes, completely agree. Update your CV and cover letter with these wonderful new responsibilities and look for other work. Finding another job is really the only option, as far as I am concerned.

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KS September 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Completely agree. Time to update the resume and cover letter with these additional responsibilities and start looking. Unfortunately the only option is likely finding another job.

Good luck!

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Josh S September 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

You know, I like this strategy.

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shellylove2002 September 5, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I agree with your assessment. The same thing has been happening to me for some time, but I had not been in a position to leave the company because they were paying for my education. Now that I am about to graduate, I will wait out the 6-month requirement. The last “promise” was for a promotion was this past May. Now I’m hearing it’s next May. My 6-month requirement after graduation ends in November. If May comes and I am not satisfied, I will be transitioning, but this time with a wealth of experience and knowledge.

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Ariancita September 6, 2012 at 12:02 am

Agree! It’s an investment in you. I was in a similar situation in that I was offered a promotion with no raise or title change, but all the responsibility. I decided to take it as an investment in me (while also looking for other positions). Not only did I get incredible work experience that has allowed me to grow tremendously and make my resume shine, but I had a happy ending when unexpectedly, I got a major title change and a HUGE raise. Turns out in my case, they were just waiting for a grant to come in. And once they had the money, I was rewarded. But even if I hadn’t had that happy ending, the new projects really increased my desirability and I was getting a lot of bites when looking for other things.

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Deirdre September 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm

For the sake of argument, could it be the manager is processing OP titles/money/promotion that aren’t hers to do? We have all had “that manager” who promises the world to employees and has no authorization to do so.

For me that is mortifying – it means I have a disappointed employee and a supervisor with whom I have to have a pointed and direct conversation. And no matter what, the employee never gets over it.

Is there anyone else at the company you can ask about this? And regardless, I would still plan an exit strategy.

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ChristineH September 5, 2012 at 2:41 pm

For the sake of argument, could it be the manager is processing OP titles/money/promotion that aren’t hers to do? We have all had “that manager” who promises the world to employees and has no authorization to do so.

You’re probably right. And, quite frankly, this is just as bad as a manager who doesn’t bother promising anything, if that makes any sense. Don’t get my hopes up unnecessarily. I’d rather hear “I want to promote you to Chocolate Teapot Sales Coordinator, but I need to run it by HR first” than, “I’m promoting you to Chocolate Teapot Sales Coordinator with a $5K salary increase effective next month!!”

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Angela S. September 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I think you are probably right, ChristineH.

Something very similar happened to me with my last job. I was a temp then and I was told that the company would hire me directly. It took the manager almost a year before the contract was approved with a lower than promised salary. I was not happy about it. But I also realized that it was a big corporation. There were a lot of approvals to get. The manager — trying to please everyone — wasn’t able to deliver.

The manger might need to take the blame on this especially if she often promises things that seldom deliver.

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ChristineH September 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Just realized that I messed up again…I was trying to quote Deidre, but I must not have done the quote thing right.

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Deirdre September 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm

oops – promising.

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Long Time Admin September 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Good grief – don’t do the work of 3 people under any circumstances. Getting at least one assistant should be part of your negotiation with your boss about taking this “promotion”.

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Joey September 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Let me let you in on some secrets. When you refuse work (I don’t mean negotiate I mean flat out refuse) there are going to be negative consequences almost always. Of course you should stand up for yourself but if you dig your heels in too hard your days are probably going to be numbered. I think it’s better to expect fair treatment, but if that doesnt get you anywhere youve got to give in and just leave on your terms when you find something better. I’ve seen people far too many times take a hard stand and end up getting blindsided by either being fired or forced out. I’d much rather be in control of when I leave.

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Ask a Manager September 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm

100% right. The day you refuse work (as opposed to talking it out and trying to come to a different resolution) is the day your boss starts thinking about whether she still wants you on her team. Because as unreasonable as your boss might be being, she thinks it’s an acceptable request. You can still leave over it — but as Joey says, do it on your own terms, not theirs.

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Eric September 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm

In a previous (dysfunctional workplace) job, where people got away with murder as long as they were charming, there was a particular department who, every month without fail, would sit on completing reports until after the last minute, which would then be dumped on me to be processed immediately.

My boss walked in with the stack of reports one day and told me she needed it processed that day. I was in the middle of another stack of work, and I told her that I would get the new reports done, but it wouldn’t be today, because I had other work to do and I didn’t feel that it was on me to kill myself finishing something when it could have been given to me in plenty of time. She said that she would “give this one to me” since I had “never refused work before”.

Didn’t matter to me, as I had one foot out the door. Two months later I had both feet out the door.

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Rachel September 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

So true! I made that mistake. My former boss flat out said “you need to take on this extra work and you won’t get a raise for it” and I asked if I could sit on it for a day to think it over, but she refused.

The next day, I got sent to the “Principal’s Office” (aka Vice President) and got in trouble. Luckily I was able to find another job but yeah things went to hell on a sled after that.

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jmkenrick September 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Haha. Hell on a sled. I’m going to have to start using that expression.

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KS September 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I love that line – “hell on a sled”. I’ll have to remember that one!

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Long Time Admin September 6, 2012 at 9:08 am

Yup, this is exactly what happens when you take on more work than one person can reasonably do.

NO JOB IS WORTH RUINING YOUR HEALTH

NO ONE PERSON CAN DO THE WORK OF THREE PEOPLE

Why can’t anyone here understand that? I worked myself into serious depression and poor health trying to be the “good” worker.

IT WASN’T WORTH IT

(And yes, this pisses me off more than I can express. I don’t want to see anyone ever doing this.)

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Jamie September 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

No one person can do the work of three in the sense of working 120 hours a week, that’s totally true.

But if the boss wants to add more work, saying no and refusing will not result in a good outcome for the employee. This requires a meeting with the boss and going over the amount of work and taking into account the hours available in the work week determining what the priorities are, what can be delegated (if possible) and what can be backburnered for a little while.

When people say they are doing the work of three this typically means that in other companies, or other times when staff was larger, these responsibilities would fall on three separate people. If you really had three people doing this work, there would be more work and other duties as well which aren’t on one person’s plate.

I don’t think anyone here is recommending that people work themselves into ill health or depression – but merely pointing out that a flat out refusal can put your position in jeopardy; either literally (i.e. they can replace you with someone willing to do the work) or more subtlety by harming your standing with your boss and taking you out of the running for raises, promotions, or better assignments.

While working past one’s breaking point isn’t advisable, neither is a flat out refusal to accept the assignments your boss is giving you.

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Anonymous September 6, 2012 at 10:55 am

I’ve seen highly skilled people do work that had previously been getting done by 3 people without breaking a sweat. If the 3 people weren’t very good and the new person is, this can happen. I’m not saying that’s what’s being discussed here but for the sake of discussion, it really depends on the one and the 3.

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Jamie September 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

This is an excellent point.

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Ask a Manager September 6, 2012 at 11:19 am

I agree with Jamie and Anonymous.

To Anonymous’s point, I’ve had employees who really struggled to handle the volume of work and swore there was too much for any one person to juggle… and then when they left, their replacements were able to handle all of that work plus more, to the point that they ended up taking on who new areas of responsibility too. I once inherited an employee who had a six-month backlog of stuff he was in charge of processing. In a month, his replacement had cleared out the backlog and was totally caught up. (More evidence for why it’s so important to hire right.) So yeah, it really does depend on who the “one” is!

That said, of course there are unreasonable employers and good employees who are given work that even a super star couldn’t handle. And when that’s the case, that’s when you do what Jamie talked about. And if your boss won’t budge, then you leave. But in my experience, if you have a track record of being good and you’re able to explain the situation in terms of its impact on the business (which is where a lot of people fail in this situation), most — not all, but most — managers will work with you on how to prioritize, etc.

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Anonymous November 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

+ 1,000

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Jamie September 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm

This is great advice. I’ve seen this happen too many times, and I’ve never seen drawing these kinds of lines work out well for the employee.

Just do what is required of you and leave on your terms.

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AdAgencyChick September 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm

The only effective way I’ve ever found to refuse work is to present the case to your boss as to why it’s better for the business that you not do it (and even then, the result you usually get is not so much a removal of work but a reprioritization):

“Boss, if I take on Project X, I won’t have time to finish Project Y on time.”

“Boss, if I take on Project X, I can’t give Project Y the time it deserves. I’m afraid something might slip through the cracks, and we all know Client Y is a hardass when we make mistakes.”

“Boss, before I say yes to taking on Client B, don’t forget they’re in Boston, and Client A is in California. I’ll never be able to fly out to Client A as much as they want me to if I’m also taking the train to see Client B all the time.”

Lather, rinse, repeat. But only if it’s true!

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Anonymous September 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm

This is timely… I’ve been going through my job adding on and then shifting me primarily to new, greater responsibilities I don’t want (with no title change and only the usual end of year small raise). When the manager asked (or rather, told me), I felt like I couldn’t say no. I’ve been looking for a new job, but briefly wondered if it was at all reasonable to ask if we can move this stuff to someone else, instead of me leaving. It looks like the answer is probably a “no.”

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Ask a Manager September 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

No, you absolutely can! Use the suggestions from AdAgencyChick just above. If you get a flat “no,” then you’ve learned something valuable about that boss, but often you’ll get help juggling things.

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AdAgencyChick September 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Yes, yes, do it! Agreed, if you do get a “well, you just have to deal with it,” then you know your boss is unreasonable (and it’s probably time to move on).

Sorry if I wasn’t clear in what I meant, which is that although putting things in terms of the business may not get the work removed from your plate:
* Sometimes it does
* Sometimes your boss will decide that something else has to come off your plate
* Sometimes your boss will decide that you need to oversee all of the work, but that you need help in order to do it

Although it’s often better to present your boss with a solution than with a problem, “too much work” is one problem that I think works better when you present it as an open-ended problem. For example, if you’ve already worked out in your head that the best solution to your problem would be to hire someone else, and there’s simply not the budget for that, if you tell your boss, “I can handle Project X and Y together only if I have an assistant,” you’ll probably get a “we can’t do that.” But if you tell your boss, “I don’t see how I can handle Project X and still do a good job on Project Y,” you and your boss can have a conversation about all the ways you can fix that problem, such as getting a temp in, being okay with a lower standard of work on Project Y, extending deadlines, etc.

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Anonymous September 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

Well, here’s what happened:

I was hired to do X. I did X 100% for a bit, but they very quickly decided they wanted me to help out with Y as well. I did X and Y 50/50 for a while. We agreed this was overwhelming and they interviewed people to take over Y. They didn’t like any of them and decided they wanted me to keep doing Y. So they hired someone to do X (who is not as good as I was). I now do probably 10% Job X (what I was hired to do and wanted to do) and 90% Job Y.

I am still always scrambling (because I am one of two people handling Y when it probably needs a few more), and they know this. The response has been “Well, you still need to get everything done” with sometimes “Okay, you can put this off, but you’re still being held responsible if anything falls through the cracks as a result.”

I’m at a loss as to what to actually offer for options. Because while yeah, I feel overwhelmed, even if they actually cared, this isn’t the primary problem to me. The problem is I want to go back to doing X almost entirely, but a) how do I frame that without it sounding like “I want to back out and not do Y at all” and b) they already hired someone to take over X.

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Joey September 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

It’s fine to have a “this isn’t what I signed up for” conversation. Just know that the chances of going back to x task will increase if you can figure out a reasonable plan for them to accomplish y also. So far it sounds like their only solution is for you to do it. If you’re stuck with y you have my permission to quietly be unhappy and get the hell outta there once you find a better job.

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Ask a Manager September 6, 2012 at 11:10 am

Agree with Joey. Unfortunately, the best time to do this was before they hired someone new to do X, because they had more options at that point. Their reaction now might be sympathetic but their hands might be tied.

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Starts & ends with A September 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Ugh, I feel you. My boss is trying to get me to do Y also. It’s certainly something I can do, but it’s not really what I want to do, and I’d prefer to do other stuff. (when I suggested said other parts of the project I was told that “you don’t want to do that”) so yeah, it’s hard when you and your boss are not on the name page.

Anonymous September 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

I wish I had said something then! Though I was fine with helping out with Y, it was after they hired someone else and I switched totally to Y (including stuff I hadn’t done when I was helping out with it) that I realized this is not what I wanted to do at all. I’ll keep considering it though (I think there may be a good way to approach this now — they recently started considering but haven’t yet approved hiring someone to help out with X, so that gives me an opening), and thank you so much for the input!

Joey September 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Don’t assume “no”. It’s best to start out with something like “can we talk about this?”. You’ve either got to come up with an alternative solution or present a business case.

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ChristineH September 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Absolutely echo the advice given above. And most definitely don’t flat-out refuse to do the new project for the reasons Alison gave above.

I do wonder if the OP got the agreement in the initial offer letter 3 years ago. One thing I’ve learned from being an avid reader it is get everything in writing. It may not 100% guarantee fulfillment of said agreements, but at least it’s a paper trail and you don’t fall into the “we didn’t say that” trap.

This is one I’m interested to see how it turns out. Good luck OP!

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Zee September 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Can I just say that this totally sucks? Because it totally sucks.

I’d work on the project by day and start updating your resume and crafting cover letters by night. You were promised a raise 3 years ago, and you have not received it. Others have by-passed you in promotions, and they only say you don’t have the skill set. For whatever ridiculous reason, they are keeping you put in this position with the money you’ve been earning since Day 1 (which as we know is not doable in this economy). Just whatever you do, don’t give them a reason not to let you go first, even if that means taking this project on. You want to have another job offer in hand, ready to go, when you give your 2 week notice. Take the high road.

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Another Jamie September 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm

This has nothing to do with anything, but whenever I see the phrase “craft a [piece of writing]” I can’t help but picture someone pulling out all of their scrapbooking supplies and really crafting the hell out of something.

So now I’m picturing a crafted cover letter, with “Accomplishments” in cute sparkly bubble letter stickers. :)

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KS September 5, 2012 at 6:30 pm

:So now I’m picturing a crafted cover letter, with “Accomplishments” in cute sparkly bubble letter stickers.”

This would really make a resume stand out. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. :)

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Zee September 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm

As long as there is glitter! :-P

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Another Job Seeker September 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I agree with the posters who are saying to accept the additional work while you look for another job. You are not alone, however. I am in a similar (although not exactly the same) situation. I hate hate hate what I do, and my supervisor is the worst I have ever had. I am actively seeking another position. However, this is not a good economy at all. I will stay here until I have another offer in hand. Keep your head up and stay encouraged. And use the new responsibilities to your advantage. Add them to your resume so that you shine when you seek other employment. (That’s what I’m doing).

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Snow September 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

There’s no way I’d wait three years for something to happen. Alison is right; start planning your exit now. I agree you should take on the extra work, if just to add it to your resume. It sucks when you’re promised something that never realizes in the end. But it’s also your own responsibility to take action and not wait years for something to happen. As the adage goes: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

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NewReader September 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm

OP, my heart goes out to you. It sounds like you are a mighty fine employee and an employer somewhere would be thrilled to have you on their team.

I have no clue if this idea is helpful or not. I agree with those who said stay calm, cool and collected. Remember- it’s the level headed people that get out of the burning building quickest.

One day at work, I was having a tough morning. I had Emergencies A, B, and C running concurrently. The boss approached me. “I need this task X done immediately.”
I stopped everything I was doing. “Boss, I have Emergencies A, B and C to attend to. Now I have task X. I will do whatever you would like me to do. How would you like me to proceed?”

I said in a tone of voice that indicated I was tired and overwhelmed. Which was true, I was tired and overwhelmed. Because my tone was not threatening or antagonizing the boss could see I was genuinely in a bad spot.

It might sound passive-aggressive, perhaps you can find a way to communicate that you sincerely want to help and do a good job but you are concerned because ___________. (Fill in an immediate concern.) As long as you keep your tone of voice and body language under control- you might gain some ground.

Sometimes you can baby step through a large problem by handling one concern at a time. For ex: In step one of your new project what is your biggest concern? See if you can get help with step one. Then when you move to step two, target the largest concern and ask about that.

I have had this help me somewhat. It is a painful process, I know. I hope you find a new job soon!

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Kat September 5, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Your new title has not been approved.

That’s when you say with conviction, “That’s not what we agreed to.”

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Josh S September 6, 2012 at 1:11 am

That’s when the boss says, “I’m altering the deal. Pray that I do not alter it any further.”

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anon-2 September 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm

And if it comes down to a terminal moment — so be it.

But – do not hesitate to tell HR in your exit interview what happened. And, when you do give your two-week notice, indicate the rug-pulling in your resignation letter. Hand it to your manager. Gauge the reaction.

No manager wants to be called on the carpet for what’s happened to you. Unless, it’s “de rigeur” for the site.

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anon-2 September 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm

One thing – if it does come down to a terminal moment — and the boss wishes to negotiate — then your terms of a counter-offer must include retroactive pay (often delivered in the form of a “stay bonus”) … or SOMETHING along those lines.

I don’t know if you could go back three years. But get something. This -

* forces your lying manager to eat some humble pie. It’s not healthy BUT

* it also means that he has to “go to the wall” to keep you, if he wants to do that AND

* if you play hardball, they’re less likely to treat you with disrespect in the future.

I would, of course, choose the most appropriate time (when you’re doing the work of three or four people) to pull your power play.

I’m in computers / IS-IT, happens all the time in my business.

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Ask a Manager September 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Don’t do this :)

When you get another offer, leave. If they counter-offer refuse — for all the same reasons you should always turn down a counteroffer, but in this case also because you have no reason to work for jerks.

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anon-2 September 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I think in this instance, you’re spot on, Alison – BUT –

As I’ve stated before, there are sometimes (not often, but sometimes) good reasons to consider counter-offers.

In one place I worked, the manager was a good guy – but he was hampered by a pig-headed executive policy that stated “don’t bid against yourself.” Once the resignation was on the table, the dialog began.

But yeah – I understand your point fully, and in this instance as well.

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NicoleW September 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm

OP – I could have written this exact letter. I’ve been with my company for 7 years, making the same amount I made when I was last promoted three years ago. Like you, I was asked to take on two big, new projects this year – both were projects that we usually pay outside contractors thousands of dollars to do. I like the work itself, but the money and the culture have become increasingly frustrating. I’m trying to plan an exit, but the job search is going poorly (in that I’m finding little to actually apply for).

So obviously, I sympathize. Try to negotiate helpers or some other support for the new project. Track for yourself personally what kinds of challenges and accomplishments you achieved. And use those in your resume and interviews.

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Julie September 17, 2012 at 11:55 am

I had a three-month salary review promise in writing when I started at a new job, but a month after the review should have been done, the company announced that it was splitting into three different companies, and we were given three months’ notice. It was great to get that much notice, and I really appreciated it, but I don’t know what I would have done if everything had been business-as-usual and they had ignored the written promise of a salary review. So I guess I’m asking what the benefit is of getting something like that in writing?

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Ask a Manager September 17, 2012 at 11:56 am

It’s helpful when people genuinely forget what was agreed to, or when there was a miscommunication on either side, or when the person you made the agreement with has since moved on, etc.

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ani January 4, 2013 at 11:50 am

Hello..I have am at a loss about what to do in this situation. Any advice would be great!One month ago i was working like support worker in London and i saw on internet the same job in outside of London(in outside of london are all my family).I was at the interview,i was accepted,i gived notice at my ex boss that i will leaving and now i wait for a month and 1 week to start here to work.My manager told me that when my crb is ready i can start the work,my crb is ready for 3 weeks.At the interview nobody told me that the job will be available of the end of january and he left me to give notice at my ex job.Now,day by day,i am stressed because i dont have money and i dont start to work…first time he told me that i will start to work when my crb is ready,after he told me that i will start to work at 1 january and now he told me that the job will be available of the end of january.What i can do ?Thanks

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Levi February 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Well, I guess next time you won’t work for a non-profit org. Also make sure everything is in writing prior to agreeing.

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Ask a Manager February 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

This has nothing to do with being at a nonprofit!

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Archana July 29, 2013 at 9:13 am

I recently had a similar experience and so went searching for information about the topic. What I am experiencing is difficulty in coming to terms with breach of trust, in my case its been 1 year and 3 months. I held my manager in very high respect, I completely trusted and admired her intelligence, I was a strong supporter and advocate of her strengths and qualities. I had worked for her on a previous project and was coming back to working with her 2 years later. When I took up the assignment I was promised a promotion, 6 months down I was told I need to prove myself, 1 year down I was told my promotion can be expected since I ‘proved’ myself. 1 year 3 months later, last week, I was asked ‘whats the hurry?’ I was in shock but had the presence of mind not to react and asked if I can expect it during the next cycle. Standard response was ‘we will surely try’. But I know its an empty promise. I am looking out for jobs outside my company now, if I move within my company the same story of ‘proving’ myself before the promotion will be repeated.

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Lora February 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

I have the same problem, but mine was in writing and it never happened. Similar situation as above. Now the manager has retired and we are changing roles, but everyone else in these roles are salary and I am the only hourly.

I clock in and out and work long days. Some come in close to 9am and leave early …it sucks.

I have spoken to the two new managers. One said she was working on it, the second said the school is looking redoing job duties and it is a waiting game.

Do I have any legal grounds sine it was in writing? I was told raise in 6 months in the offer letter. It is two years now.

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tina March 14, 2014 at 5:18 am

you know, my situation is kind of similar to yours..i am working for more than 3 years in a company, no changes in position and in my salary! my boss had been making assurances, since my second year here in the company, that I will get a raise and a promotion because of my performance but its like its just broken promises, still no progress! i followed up regarding it, and she just said that i need not to worry because she is working on it with the management..and i have to wait patiently..but until when??!!im so disappointed but i dont know what to do..if i quit here its like ive waited long enough for nothing, so maybe i should wait???…aarrrrrggghhhhh! :-(

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Lora March 14, 2014 at 10:36 am

Tina, it is very frustrating and it makes you not care. Sadly, if you do the work and they aren’t paying you…..the work is still getting done. Right now, we have had changes in our office and everyone is salary…but “ME”. On top of that people are doing exactly what I am doing…but out of 700 individuals I am handling 400 of them and doing Credit Card management, and other things. I have been told that no changes are being made right now.

But…I am trying to stay on a positive note…and I am learning everything I can about some of the new things I am doing and I am going to be so good at it….in the mean time I am looking for other jobs with these skills and then in May 2014 I am going to push the issue again. If by August 1, 2014 I do not have my raise I am leaving. I had to set goals and stand up for myself. If you let them run you over they will. So I am wiping of the tread marks and putting up a road block. This road is closed. :-) Good luck I hope things get better for you. Life is too short.

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