what your boss thinks when you ask for a raise, rich interns, Gen Y, and more

When I find interesting links, I usually post them on Twitter, but I’ve come across more than usual this week, so here’s a round-up:

1. I’m a huge believer that you’ll get a much better understanding of workplace dynamics by reading things that are geared toward the other side — i.e., read advice to managers and you’ll have more insight into how to deal effectively with your boss, and read advice for interviewers and you’ll become a much more effective interviewee. In that spirit, here’s a Harvard Business Review article for managers about how to respond when an employee asks for a raise. I don’t agree with all the advice in it — in fact, I think some of it is completely wrong — but reading it will give you insight into the factors managers are weighing when you ask for more money.

2. This is a great article from Business News Daily on what Gen Y job seekers need to know, and it actually applies to Gen Yers who already have jobs too. Like don’t use the expression “it’s all good,” among other things.

3. This is a good article, again from Harvard Business Review, on how to take a problem to your manager without making her feel like you’re dumping it in her lap. The money quote from the author: “(When an employee comes to me with a problem) I don’t want to do the legwork for him to figure out what he should do. I want him to come to me with an opinion. I want him to put a stake in the ground and give me an idea of what he thinks he should do. I want him to lay out his argument for or against going in a certain direction or using a certain set of assumptions, and then get my feedback or opinion on whether that’s the right course of action.”

4. I just saw this older post from Corporette on a question I had never pondered and ended up finding totally engrossing: Should interns avoid carrying $9,000 handbags to work?

{ 79 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I think I’m Gen Y, but I don’t really pay attention to any of those letter based things. I was born in 1988, so maybe I’m Z or something? I can never remember when X ended, and I never hear anything about W. I feel sorry for the people in a couple decades from now, because they won’t have a convenient letter so people can generalize them.

    I have a hard time believing that the choice of vocabulary and phrases is the same in the workplace now as it was fourty years ago. In fourty years, I expect to be getting angry at those “upstarts using those damned stupid phrases that don’t mean anything”.

    For texting, it absolutely is not as personal as being invited into someone’s home. I consider a direct call way more personal than a text, since the amount you can communicate through text is significantly less than through voice. Heck, I even think E-mail is more personal than texting.

    Flip-flops don’t belong in an interview, but I do hope to see the illogical “professional dress” fashion trend to go away in my lifetime. I do not enjoy walking through DC in mid-summer in long pants, dress shirt, carrying a black suit.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree the litmus test for whether or not to text shouldn’t be whether you’d be invited into that person’s home, but I’ve seen people text their boss/coworkers without waiting to learn if that’s part of the culture or not. I, for one, do NOT want to be texted by employees/coworkers ever, unless it’s an emergency and there’s no other way to reach me. So I think the point is not to assume, and to wait and learn the culture.

      1. Ariel*

        I’ve texted my boss before — it was a Saturday morning and I was unable to get to my Saturday afternoon shift. By texting, I was able to avoid waking her up or interrupting her quiet Saturday with a phone call — and she wasn’t likely to check her work email on a day she wasn’t working.

        To be fair, I knew it was an acceptable part of the culture and she’s young-ish, as am I, so I guess I’m agreeing with AAM.

      2. Anonymous*

        Ah but that’s the thing. Eventually what you assume IS going to change. the quesiton is when? If, as the new generation ages, texting becomes the de-facto communication method with phones instead of direct calls (think E-mail replacing a lot of office communication), then it will be switched. Expect to see these “new-hire information” posts in a few years:

        “Remember, when you need to contact your boss you should send a quick text message before calling them. Texting is less intrusive and easier to respond to when they’re free. Before you call them directly, wait and learn the culture.”

        Just as people rejected and changed the office culture of those that came before them, the same thing will happen again.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! And at that point I will stop writing. Or change the name of my blog to Ask a Curmudgeon.

          Because I do think it’s incumbent among people holding themselves up as experts to regularly look around and ask whether their advice is still reflecting reality or not.

          1. Anonymous*

            But with how ubiquitious text messaging is these days, I think the opinion that text messages are inappropriate (assuming the cell number was given in the first place), is in the minority already.

            But that might be because I’m from a tech-oriented field, so all of my older managers are more up to date on them newfangled machines.

            1. Liz in a library*

              I text my boss and several co-workers frequently, and that is totally OK in our department.

              However, something to consider is that even now, not everyone has a texting plan on cell phones (particularly if you are contacting a personal, and not company, phone). I have made the mistake of sending a text to a colleague in the past who was pretty furious because he did not have a messaging plan and had to pay to read my message (my offer of a quarter was denied).

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Another thing to consider: Do you even know that’s it’s a cell number, not a land line? I’ve had people “text” me on my land line number, so I of course never received their texts (and they didn’t realize that).

            3. Natalie*

              One carrier (can’t remember which one) will send texts to a landline, which are then read by that robot voice. A friend of mine who does not have a cell phone once got a robot-text from a date. It was awesome.

            4. KellyK*

              Very good points about not everyone having a texting plan and not necessarily knowing whether something is a cell or a landline. A lot of people I know don’t even *have* a landline, so that makes it very easy for them to forget the quirks of old-school phones. Meanwhile, I live on a back road, surrounded by trees. Cell reception? What cell reception?

  2. TJ*

    Just read the piece about advice for Gen Y. Speaking as a member of said generation, some things are right on target; namely, not bringing up your drinking habits and not wearing flip-flops.

    But the ones that dealt with certain phrases and words that shouldn’t be used (“no problem” and “it’s all good”) stopped me. Shouldn’t the organization’s culture come into play at some point? If my boss were to thank me for something and I responded with “a very hardy, ‘No, thank you for the opportunity'”, my boss would think I was either hiding something or that I had lost my mind. Again, it depends on the culture, but I’d rather sound informal and genuine than stiffly formal and kind of fake.

    Also, the bit about measuring our expectations isn’t fair either. I know few to no Gen Y’s who expect to walk in and earn six figures. It’ll take work, and we’re willing to put that work in. Sounds to me like some of this advice comes from someone who hasn’t spent much time actually working with Gen Y, and is just operating on what she’s been told.

    (Note: none of the above is directed specifically at you, AAM. You just posted the link to the story and there’s no comment option on that post.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I actually agree with the article about the phrase “it’s all good.” The only times I’ve ever heard it used in the workplace it was coming out of the mouth of someone who was slightly too laid-back about work for my comfort, so maybe I associate it with that … but I cringe when I hear an employee say it to me.

      1. Henning Makholm*

        Excuse me for being an ignoramus, but does “it’s all good” have some special hip code meaning that I’m not aware of? I can only imagine the sentence being used in pedestrian contexts like: “Would you be able to move to the morning shift next week?” — “Just a moment, let me check my calendar … no, it’s all good. Sure”.

        Or: “Did you sample the buffet? Anything I shouldn’t miss?” — “Well, it’s all good. Careful with the cauliflower salad if you don’t like olives, though.”

        Anything wrong with that?

        1. Josh S*

          The problems aren’t so much with your scenarios (though even in the first one, you had to clarify the “it’s all good” with “sure”).

          Rather, it’s the problem with using the phrase in the following context:
          Boss: “You need to have this month-long project done by Friday, and you’re telling me that it’s only halfway done!?”
          Underling: “It’s all good. I’ll work overtime today and tomorrow and it will be ready.”
          Boss (thinks): [This is NOT all good. Even if you manage to get something passable, it will not have the time, effort, or thought behind it to make it stand up to the smallest amount of scrutiny. You’ve just screwed your whole team.]

          “It’s all good” is the Gen Y versions of “There’s nothing to worry about” but with a casual dismissal of any actual concerns that might really apply and a total lack of professionalism.

          1. Henning Makholm*

            (In my first example, the “Sure” is there to clarify that “no” is not the answer to the original question, but answers the internal question “do I have any colliding plans?”).

            In your example it would seem to me that the actual problem is that the underling dismisses the boss’s concerns in the first place. Does which particular words he chooses express that sentiment really matter then?

            1. Josh S*

              “Does which particular words he chooses express that sentiment really matter then?”

              The actual problem is that the underling dismisses the boss’s concerns. And the words “It’s all good” do that on their own. It’s an attitude thing, but the phrase is dismissive by its very nature.

              I’m sure that the underling doesn’t intend for his words to convey dismissal, but they do anyway.

  3. Jake*

    I don’t believe X’s like managing Y’s, and it’s for the reasons the first poster stated. As an X, I don’t want to ponder someone not liking a professional dress code or if someone prefers to text or email rather than call. Your preference is irrelevant until you start signing the front of the check rather than the back.

    Y’s come across as whiny for these reasons.

    1. Anonymous*

      I am really uncomfortable with generalizations that are as sweeping as including ALL people from TWO different generations.

      I’m from generation Y (I think? I’m not totally sure at this point…), and I think it’s incredibly unfair and untrue to say that we are all whiny because we have preferences on how to communicate. Yep, it’s obnoxious if a subordinate insists on communicating with their boss in a way that’s not the preferred, but having the preference in and of itself? Just normal. Everyone has preferences.

      Please don’t speak for everyone in my generation. Also, I know lots of generation Xers that would appreciate it if you wouldn’t speak for them, too.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I totally get being annoyed by that, but I think you’ve got to assume when you read articles about generational differences that no one thinks they’re speaking of EVERY SINGLE PERSON in that generation. No one is saying that “all” gen Y people are this or that, or that “all” gen X people are. (And anyone who is would obviously be an idiot.) But there are certainly trends in every age group.

    2. Anonymous*

      Every generation dislikes managing the succeeding generation. It’s that whole “circle of life” thing!

      1. pj*

        Not anymore. Younger people are managing older people now, and their attitude toward their older underlings is the same.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree with Jake — I’m just not going to spend a lot of time worrying about whether someone I manage dislikes being expected to wear normal professional attire.

      I once worked with a guy who complained constantly that he couldn’t wear sandals. This was in an office where jeans were allowed. After a certain point I wanted to suggest that he go get a job somewhere else, where he’d be highly unlikely to be allowed to wear jeans, let alone sandals.

      1. Anonymous*

        There’s a difference between disliking something and complaining about it constantly, though! I might dislike that I have to be at work at eight, but I’m certainly not going to complain about it (well, to my boss or coworkers at least…)

  4. Anonymous*

    I found one of the comments on Corporette to reveal perhaps that there is some sneaky sexism going on in this discussion:

    At the end of the article, the authors add this note:
    “*For some reason, while both a fancy handbag and a large engagement ring can send vibes of “I’m rich, materialistic, and show-offy,” we’ve never really gotten those vibes from a good watch — particularly one lacking bling.”

    Am I reading too much in to this comment if I note that both expensive handbags and large engagement rings are status symbols worn by women, while expensive watches are much more likely to be favored by men?

    Probably I am.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Interesting. It might be accounted for by the fact that watches are typically a fairly sober/staid/quiet accessory. But picture a guy wearing a really flashy, blinged-out watch, and I think it would be comparable to an inappropriately fancy handbag.

    2. Wants harder math tests!*

      I don’t think you are reading too much into it, not at all. I read it the same way.

    3. Helena*

      I see the same in the watch vs. handbag claim. Admittedly, I don’t know much about handbags, but the handbag pictured at the link isn’t diamond-studded with platinum clasps. It doesn’t look too much different from my $20 Target black pleather purse. I think a comparable-feel watch to this handbag wouldn’t be an Breitling Bentley Diamond watch, but rather a Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse watch. I just have a hard time picturing a male intern being criticized or thought less of for wearing the latter watch, though I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise.

    4. Mike C.*

      I saw the same thing. What’s worse is that a woman with an expensive ring could have easily received it as a hand me down from other members of the family but will still be judged unfairly.

    5. Liz T*

      Agreed. Birkin bags don’t have Swarovski crystals all over them, or even logos–you just have to know that they’re expensive, same as a watch. I think the gender difference comes from a double-standard: if men have money, it’s assumed they earned it, while if women have money, it’s assumed they got it from a man. (Note that people have been saying “Daddy’s girl”–like she couldn’t have even gotten it from her mother.) As a side note, I’d suspect that men who are born into money feel more social pressure to make more money than do women in the same situation. Our society definitely links manliness and income, which is why Jen Dziura at Bullish says that women earning money can be a deeply feminist act.

      I don’t think I’d recognize either a Birkin bag or an expensive watch–but if someone I knew had spent $9,000 on either, I’d roll my eyes a bit. I wouldn’t necessarily discount the person, but yeah: I think there are better ways to spend that money.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The frivolity is part of it too — carrying a $9,000 bag says (to me) “not serious” and “really messed up priorities.” But I’m asking myself if I’d feel the same about a $9,000 watch, and the truth is that while I’d feel it was somewhat frivolous, I wouldn’t judge it as much as I would the bag. Part of that is because of the assumption that watches are something you’ll wear for years, whereas a handbag is generally going to be out of style within a couple of years, but I’m not sure that accounts for all of it.

        1. fposte*

          What about cars, though? Granted, I’m not a big car person, but $10,000 difference in a car price is pretty easy to achieve for no practical reason without, as far as I can tell, eliciting any condemnation for frivolity. And sure, you can drive a car, but you can also carry stuff in a purse.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh yeah, I can’t really defend my feelings on this. I think they’re probably at least somewhat unfair and deriving from some sort of insidious double standard, which really pisses me off to realize.

            That said, I’d argue a car has more intrinsic value than a purse. (But who am I to get to decide that?)

  5. Kristin*

    I feel like Gen Y gets such a bad wrap in the professional world, when part of it isn’t our fault. I’m 26, and when I was in college, social media was just starting to shift its way into the professional world (LinkedIn and Facebook especially- Twitter wasn’t born yet), and the “conventional” methods of job searching were rapidly becoming outdated.

    At the time (2007), the advice I received in my “professional development” class was REALLY outdated by today’s standards: things such as “ALWAYS mail a hard copy of the resume on nice paper,” “don’t use social media at all” (and this was coming from a journalism professor!), and “ALWAYS call to follow up a few days after you apply for a job.”

    The bad/outdated advice that a lot of us were given, paired with what the economy/job market was like in 2007-2009, when a lot of us were starting to look for first jobs seems to have created a generation of people with very limited professional skills.

    Just wanted to throw out there that not all of us are unprofessional, and a lot of the unprofessionalism Gen Y exhibits is a product of our environment/experiences.

    And for what it’s worth- the managers I’ve had that are at the tail end of Gen X (5-7 years older than me) have been my best managers, and the ones I’ve been the most compatible with professionally.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wish I could take out billboards with a big message saying “Don’t take job search advice from people who haven’t done a lot of hiring themselves.” Because people don’t realize this and assume that someone speaking to them on it with an air of authority probably knows what they’re talking about, and then they end up spending money on expensive resume paper.

      But yes, there are many, many, many professional and competent and workplace-appropriate Gen Yers. Many of them. But there are still trends, and those are interesting to comment on (at least I think so).

      1. Kristin*

        I agree with you completely! Once I started reading your blog, I realized the errors of that particular professor’s ways. I just hate that every single person in my major was required to take her professional development class, and she was also the internship coordinator. To be fair, she gave some useful advice, but most of it wasn’t. I hope that she’s at least updated it since I graduated.

        I think it is interesting to learn about and comment on the trends, but I also feel like it just perpetuates negative stereotypes (and there are a whole lot more articles about the negative trends…), which makes it harder for those of us who don’t fit those stereotypes to find work.

    2. Anonymous*

      On an average week, I see at least two or three articles about why “Gen Y’ers” are:

      Out of touch
      Too casual
      Not goal oriented
      Too full of slang
      Too social
      Holding unrealistic Salary/work hour expectations

      It gets pretty frustrating to see this all over, week after week, as a 22 year old just entering the workforce. It makes me worried what my managers may unfairly perceive me to be with this continual reinforcement of ageism purveying through news outlets, magazines and the like.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I really don’t think most people judge individuals as an entire group. I mean, I find generational trends interesting, but I certainly don’t assume that the 22-year-old I just hired is going to be too social and entitled. If they turn out that way, I address it, but I’m not going into it with those assumptions. The vast majority of Gen Yers I’ve worked with have been great, and I’m sure that’s typical of most people’s experience.

        1. Anonymous*

          Oh, judging solely from your blog I wouldn’t dream you were the type to do that. But I also don’t think many managers are nearly as in tune with things as you are. When you see the same types of headlines, news stories and “informational posts” appearing week in and week out, it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t a large portion of people reading them and taking them as as the truth.

          It’s like the insulting “How to treat/manage women in the workplace” pamphlets you see from the 50’s/60’s. Just replace women with -Age group-.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’ve definitely seen managers make assumptions about whole groups of people, but from what I’ve seen their assumptions are actually much more likely to be on the other end — assumptions about people over a certain age (that someone older will be stuffy or behind the times or resistant to being managed).

          2. Anonymous*

            Adding on to my last post, I may be in a unique position because I work at a location that is overwhelmingly older. The coworker closest to me in age is 37.

            A third of the staff in our group will be eligible to retire in 1 to 5 years.

          3. Jane Atkinson*

            It’s considered insensitive (or worse) to talk about all African-Americans or all women or all (insert minority of choice) as having the same characteristics – especially negative ones.

            Yet it’s just fine to tar an entire generation with the same dismissive brush. Isn’t that equally showing prejudice and stereotyping?

            Can someone tell me what I’m missing here?

            1. Liz T*

              Well, generations aren’t systemically oppressed groups, so there is a difference. It’s still dumb though.

      2. Anonymous*

        I guess I tend to be a positive person because I have a completely different view regarding Gen Y stereotypes. I personally hold a lot of the above-mentioned stereotypes from my experiences with Gen Yers. But that just means I would be impressed by someone who proved me wrong. I have an intern now who is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. He takes on every menial task with a smile, does it well and then asks for more. Within a week of starting his 6 month internship, we already called his school to ask if we were allowed to hire him now without effecting his program.

        1. Liz T*

          It’s just kind of alarming to me that you’re shocked by the idea that anyone under 30 could be a good employee.

      3. Mikey*

        Don’t take it personally. Fifteen years ago, the articles said the same thing about Gen X, and 15 years before that, about the Boomers. Every generation thinks they are something different and misunderstood, and they all think the succeeding generation has a lot to learn.

        My advice (I’m a self centered entitled rich [ha!] boomer) Just work hard, work smart, and give your employer good value. Do that and you will only have to job hunt once. After that, they will hunt you.

  6. Kathleen*

    I’d be interested in knowing the advice you agreed with and the advice you didn’t agree with from the first link you posted.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I had a real problem with the third-to-last paragraph, where he says that if you determine the person is underpaid and deserves a raise, you still shouldn’t immediately grant the request. He writes, “If a salary increase is granted directly following a request, word may spread that all individuals in the organization are underpaid. The unfortunate precedent will be set that the way to get a salary increase is simply to ask for it. You will then be held hostage to all the other raise requests that will immediately follow.”

      This is silly. If others deserve raises too, then you should be prepared to handle their requests. And that’s the point that I thought was missing — that managers need to be prepared to give honest, straightforward answers to raise requests, even when the answer is hard or awkward. You have to be able to say, “I can’t give you a raise because your performance hasn’t earned one. I’d need to see X, Y, and Z from you in order to consider a raise.” Or “I agree you’ve earned more, but we just don’t have the money for it right now. I hope we will by the end of the year, and if we do, I’m going to ensure you get a raise at that time — but I also can’t promise that we we’ll be in that financial position by then.” And so forth. You have to be able to be honest, and some of the article felt more like game-playing to me.

      1. Anonymous*

        I completely agree with this! It’s not fair that an employee comes to the meeting with proof of well above average work and productivity, and is then asked to provide MORE proof before getting a raise. It’s as though the assessment of someone’s value doesn’t begin until he/she asks for a raise.

  7. Josh S*

    While most on here have thus far commented on the “Generation Y” and “Expensive Handbag” articles, I’ve been struck by the “Raise” article from HBR. The advice offered seems dismissive and cold under the pretense of professionalism.

    First, I understand a manager’s need to take a moment and consider a raise request, rather than responding immediately. In fact, as an underling, I would prefer for them to take time. It indicates that they are willing to really consider the request. If I were to get an immediate “No”, I’d tend to think that the manager was dismissive and uncaring. If I got an immediate “Yes”, I’d be happy, but wondering if I was so severely underpaid that the decision was obvious. In reality, the manager should have to consider it–weigh the business reality against the facts of performance, expectations, etc. to see if a raise is justified or possible.

    But saying, “Thank you for bringing the matter to my attention. I’ll get back to you by XX date,” seems like a veiled way of saying, “I don’t have time for this BS right now. Go away and I’ll get back to you eventually.”

    Rather, it would be nice to hear, “I understand you are looking for a raise. I want to be sure to evaluate your request properly when I can devote some time and attention to it. Please write down the reasons for your request, and the amount of raise you believe is merited, and I’ll make sure to give it my attention. I plan on reviewing things during XX block of time, so I need your information by YY, and will have an answer to you by ZZ.” It shows some sincerity rather than a vague dismissal of the request.

    Being honest about the raise (or lack of raise) is also important. As I’m sure you’d agree, AAM, being forthright about business realities makes sense, as does explaining the rationale behind such an important decision.

    If a person has topped out the salary range for his/her position, suggest strategies for growth in the company that might include a raise. Additional duties might be part of that, but grooming for a promotion would be even better, and show the person that he/she is valued (if, indeed, they are worthy of promotion as a good worker).

    And if a raise is appropriate because a person is underpaid–shame on you for undervaluing the contribution in the first place or gaming the worker to get them at a ‘cheap’ rate–you can expect this person to find out eventually and leave, unless there is a specific reason for the underpayment (generous benefits package, amazing work culture, only opportunity to do this job in the region, etc). Trying to get an underpaid worker to justify a raise by increasing their work load and keeping them underpaid is a sure recipe to stir dissent and disgruntlement. And they’ll probably leave once they find out.

    If they are underpaid, admit it. Tell them that they definitely deserve the raise, give them the reasons why and confirm that this is based on specific circumstances (and not carte blanche for every employee to come begging for a raise), and let them know what they can expect in terms of future compensation.

    Honestly, in my opinion, the way you treat an employee when they ask for a raise is nearly as important as whether or not the raise is granted.

    I normally love the HBR blog articles, but in this case I take issue with the advice given. If, indeed, this is how many (most?) managers are trained to treat their employees, it seems no wonder that good management is so hard to find.

    /end of rant

      1. X2*

        Wow, you’re so right that “The Worst Interview Question (and How to Answer It)” is pretty much off-base. The only exception is that it is spot on about weaknesses in one context being a strength in a different context, but not telling readers how to use this to answer the question in a better way makes it that much worse to me.

        It reminds me when I was at the doctor last week and read Reader’s Digest in the lobby. The article “What HR Won’t Tell You About Your Résumé” (http://www.rd.com/money/what-hr-people-won%E2%80%99t-tell-you-about-your-resume/) offers some really bad insights. #4 is the WORST: “4. “People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.” –HR director at a financial services firm”

  8. Mike C.*

    By the way, posting a series of articles you find interesting on your blog on a more regular basis would be interesting to me.

      1. Talyssa*

        I’d read em – I wouldn’t want it to be as frequent as SOME blogs do it (some blogs post 5-10 links once a week and it starts to feel like the links are just filler, not curated articles) but I would enjoy occasional posts like this.

    1. Anonymous*

      I follow about 75 blogs with RSS and my favorite ones are the ones that have posts that link to other blogs. I think HR stuff is interesting but I don’t have the time to read dozens of articles or blogs. Also, I couldn’t agree more with your comment about reading the other side’s opinion on things. The Manager Tools podcast recently had an episode about managing remote employees that gave me some ideas about how to be a better employee on a team where I’ve never met any of my coworkers including my boss. It exposed some issues my boss faces that never crossed my mind.

    2. fposte*

      Definitely–especially with this sort of give and take, here’s-what-I-disagree-with commentary and discussion.

  9. Talyssa*

    I was really upset by the idea that the article about raises seemed to imply that you couldn’t just say “No, so and so got a raise last year because the situation merited it, your situation does not merit it, thank you and have a nice day.”

    I mean for goodness sakes – if I’m doing the work of a senior person and you’re paying me an intermediate person’s salary, when I ask for a bump up to the correct amount I do NOT want to hear that for some reason I have to do MORE than a senior person to get the same pay. That would make me feel like I was getting the “please quit, we hate you” message.

    My coworkers and I (and our boss) do occassionally text, but its always a “are you joining this meeting” type text or a “I’m running late can someone pick up meeting X for me til I get there” type text. And at the conference I was at in May my boss and I were texting like crazy because she was trying to get one of my projects out while I was in sessions all week. But I think its not appropriate to text in GENERAL – friendly texting is something I have only done with coworkers I was actually friends with.

    Work related texting is called “email”. And its not entirely due to ‘intimacy’ issues — I think a big factor is that we already have 3 ways that people are constantly contacting us at work (email, phone call, walk up to cube) and the last thing we need is a FOURTH place to have to communicate.

  10. wits*

    I don’t think it’s a Gen X vs. Gen Y thing as much as a age and experience thing. I’m in my early 30’s and I have definitely rolled my eyes about some things my younger coworkers do, but I made professional mistakes of my own when I began my professional career, like wearing work clothes based on fashion instead of what looked professional, having loud personal phone conversations at my desk, and gossiping about coworkers. Now I know better.

  11. Liz T*

    I just want to remind the Gen Xers out there what the common conceptions of YOU guys were when you were in your 20s: Apathetic, entitled slackers who smoked weed on your parents’ couches in between getting things pierced. The media used to praise Millennials as civic-minded go-getters by comparison, but now that they’re in the job market people love to criticize. (Never mind that what seems like entitlement is often the shock of a terrible job market–a problem Gen Xers didn’t have.) Our culture loves to sling mud at whomever’s new to the game. This decade’s “Stop the texting and tweeting!” is just last decade’s “Take a goddamn shower!”

    [I was born in ’82, if you’re wondering, so I’m right on the border of the two generations. I drank giant lattés and listened to Pearl Jam, but was too young/uncool to know why people were so upset on April 8, 1994.]

      1. Liz T*

        Yeah, the coffee shop near school had Mocha Mondays and Half-Price Cappuccino Wednesdays. I’d show up three times a day. (I think they were worried about me by the end.)

    1. Rana*

      the shock of a terrible job market–a problem Gen Xers didn’t have.

      Really? Oh, man, do I wish this statement were true.

  12. FrauTech*

    Okay so that first link was really depressing. I’ve asked for raises several times now, and usually get an immediate “probably not.” Yes we have a compensation system in place, it stipulates when yearly raises happen (usually about 2% lately) but says nothing on promotions.

    Sometimes my bosses are completely honest with me that they don’t want to have to ask their boss or their boss’s boss for me. They agree I’m underpaid but usually say there’s nothing they can do about it. And in this fantastic job market they don’t have to do anything about it. It’s not that I can’t command a higher salary elsewhere, it’s that I can’t even get hired elsewhere. I’ve been lucky to be continually employed but what are you supposed to do when you get top performance ratings and mediocre pay year after year? Am I really supposed to be networking my way past my boss? Is it really MY responsibility to shmooze with an executive just so that justifying a raise for me isn’t difficult? We are not a small company by any means, but the pressure to give as little raises as possible and therefore make your boss look good by not rewarding your subordinates is incredibly consistent here, only the job market makes it really easy. The online advice seems to be to leave if your boss won’t reward you. I’ve been trying for a while to no avail, no sure why the gurus seem to think there are real jobs out there or that anyone’s hiring.

  13. dazed and confused*

    I couldn’t read to the bottom, waaay too many whiny posts from Gen Y’ers about how Gen Y’ers are unfairly considered to be whiny. :-|

  14. Emily*

    Oh no! I am definitely guilty of saying “no problem” at work. I confess, I don’t understand how it implies that you were doing the person a favor. *embarrassed face* But then, maybe I’ve just heard too many sarcastic you’re welcomes (i.e., “you’re WELcome!”) in my life.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think we’re probably getting heavily into the realm of personal preferences / individual pet peeves now, but personally “no problem” doesn’t rub me the wrong way like “it’s all good” does. “It’s all good” just feels overly laid-back to me in the contexts in which it’s often used.

      1. Emily*

        Oh, okay. Whew! Although, if I were in a more formal situation at work, I would agree with the author and opt for “you’re welcome” or “it was my pleasure” over “no problem.”

      2. Jamie*

        I’ve never had a problem with “no problem.” I use it myself – I see it as shorthand for “thanks isn’t necessary – it was no big deal.”

        I do, however, have a problem with “it’s all good” for the reasons noted – it’s dismissive and doesn’t tell me anything.

        My biggest pet peeve of all though is “my bad.” It seems that those using it think that this either makes their errors cute or something…but it doesn’t.

        I understand people make mistakes and am a firm believer in owning it when you do – but “my bad” which is always accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders and a tilt of the head isn’t admitting fault – it’s “aw shucks these things happen!”

        I don’t want people to beat themselves up over errors, but I like to feel like that get what happened and will make the effort not to make the same mistake again.

        Yeah – that one grates.

  15. Michelle*

    Can we stop beating the “how Gen Y should behave” horse? Really. Some Gen Y’ers are turning 30, we’ve been here. Some of us have even had two career’s already. It’s old, move on to something else.

  16. Anonymous*

    # 3 is fine, if your boss actually SUPPORTS you. I’ve tried taking situations to my boss only to be met with the “so what? You figure it out.” attitude.

    Mind you, I only go to my boss with things after what I’ve been doing hasn’t worked.

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