following up on my manager’s promise to try to get me a raise

A reader writes:

At the end of November, I went to my manager to discuss a raise. I told her that I had been approached about two job opportunities that are paying about $15k more than what I’m making now. I’m happy in my role and not looking to make a change — and I told her that — but at the same time, that is a significant discrepancy in pay. I’ve done my own research and spoken to other people in my field and the consensus is that I am being underpaid.

She was very receptive when I spoke to her and thanked me for bringing the matter to her attention. She even said to me that if she was the one to hire me (the manager that hired me is no longer with the organization), she would have brought me in at a higher salary.

She told me that there was an Operations meeting at the end of the month and she would talk about seeing if they could get me a one-time increase on my base salary and then she would also make a case for me to have a good merit increase in April. Although she guaranteed no results, she mentioned that she’d go to bat for me. The expectations were that I would probably not get everything I was looking for salary wise but that there would be an increase coming my way.

I’m happy with the organization, the perks and the flexibility in the role, so even if I didn’t get all the way up to $15k more, I’d be happy.

I heard nothing back from her, so about two weeks after that Operations meeting I approached her again as a follow up. She brushed me off and said that merit increases would only be discussed in January and said nothing about that one-time increase she had mentioned in our first meeting. I was a bit taken aback so I didn’t say much and just left her office without getting answers.

Do you have any advice about how I should proceed? Should I ask her again about my salary or discussions of a raise or should I just leave it and wait for her to get back to me? I really don’t want to leave my job, but at the same time I do work hard and I think I should be paid fairly for the work that I do.

She’s handled this badly.

It sounds like she talked to someone above her about increasing your salary and was told no, and that the only way to address your salary would be through the company’s regularly-scheduled merit raises. At that point, if she truly felt that you were underpaid according to the market and the company’s own pay structure, and if she thinks you’re a high performer who she doesn’t want to lose, she should have pushed her case for raising your salary to market level in order not to lose you. And if she was unsuccessful at doing that, then she should have come back to you and explained the situation.

Instead, she’s blown you off, which is the exact opposite of what she should have done. After having the initial conversation in which she agreed you should be paid more, she owes it to you to follow up with you in a real way, even if it’s just to explain that she can’t get the company to budge. (And ideally, at that point she’d also talk with you about other ways to keep you satisfied in your job, if money isn’t at her disposal.)

The way she’s handling this is really poor: While she might not be able to avoid telling you that you’re not likely to get a significant raise outside of the company’s normal salary evaluation procedures, she’s exacerbated that blow unnecessarily by also signaling to you that she doesn’t think the matter is worthy of a real discussion — which for many people will make it a much bigger blow.

(And if she actually is planning to push for you to get a significant, higher-than-usual raise when merit raises are discussed, then she should be telling you that, not leaving you to feel blown off.)

As for how to proceed, I think you need to decide how much of a deal-breaker your current salary is to you. It sounds like you were happy with your job and your salary until you got approached about two higher-paying jobs. (And keep in mind that you weren’t actually offered those jobs, as far as I can tell — you were invited to apply for them.  That’s different; people get recruited for jobs all the time they that don’t ultimately get, especially in this market — so remember that those are jobs that you haven’t been offered and don’t know much about versus a job that you actually hold and know you enjoy.) So how much of a stand are you willing to take on salary? Are you willing to walk away over it? Salary negotiations often do come down to who’s most willing to walk away — meaning how willing you are to take another job and how willing your employer is to lose you over money. You want to know how strongly you feel about this and what you’re willing to do if you don’t get a resolution you’re happy with.

Once you’re clear about where you stand, you can certainly talk to your manager again. Say something along the lines of: “When we talked about my salary in November, you agreed that I should have been brought in at a higher salary and said you’d try to get me a one-time increase to bring me up to market rates, separate from regular merit raises. I’d like to talk about where that stands.” If she blows you off again, say, “I’m confused. This seems very different than what you and I discussed in November. I understand that things change, but can you help me understand why this conversation has such a different tenor than previously?”

Ultimately, if she’s not willing to go to bat for you — or if she doesn’t accomplish anything by doing that — then you need to decide if you’re willing to live with that, or if you want to pursue other jobs. But I really wouldn’t bring those other jobs up with her again as leverage — first, because the subtext to any salary negotiation is “I might look elsewhere if we don’t come to terms on this” and so you don’t need to say it out loud, and second, because if you do say it out loud, you risk the response (spoken or unspoken) being, “Well, go pursue them.”

Make your case for a raise, see what happens, and then decide if you’re willing to live with the outcome or not.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 61 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    Maybe it’s just me, but $15,000 is a huge sum of money to be underpaid, and the fact that your boss doesn’t think it’s important leads me to believe that you need to fix up your resume and start applying to those jobs.

    And if you do get one of those jobs, be sure to let your boss know that her response was the catalyst for your decision.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      In addition to what you’ve said, I also got the impression that the boss was blowing her off the first time. Every place is different, but it doesn’t seem that in general an operations meeting would be the proper place to discuss a raise for one of your reports. After reading this a couple times, I think the manager said that just to appease the OP and her actual plan was to address it through the merit increases. (And, it could be difficult to get a $15K raise then, when you have to stay in the alotted budget and percent increase bands.)

      1. Mike C.*

        Companies should be doing periodic checks to see what folks of similar job titles and experience levels are paid throughout (and outside!) the company to ensure things like this don’t happen.


          Well every year at my company we do an employee survey where we answer questions about working conditions, salary, etc. Last years results showed 83% of my department felt they were underpaid. So upper management did a “review” and based on what they found, they said we were paid according to market value. We’ve had almost 100% turnover in a year with salary being a major consideration for why people have left. Not to say if they raised our pay 15-20% a year to be what we’d feel was adequate we’d all stay but it would certainly help. And to top it off, management has decided because of the high turnover, rather than increase pay or change some bothersome working conditions, they’d just implement a no internal transfer rule so we can’t move to other departments. So basically they are forcing people to look outside the company for higher pay and more responsibility which is cutting off their nose to spite their face and wasting time and money hiring and training employees who could just stay with the company. We have our 2013 employee survey coming up and I’ll be curious to see what this years numbers reveal.

          So even if companies do annual salary reviews doesn’t mean that anything positive will come of it if employees are unhappy with anything.

    2. L*

      I was under paid by 30k. I had to leave to get anyone to notice that I was THAT underpaid. I left, came back with a 23k raise. Better, but still below my peers. You may be happy, but they won’t care to increase the money until you are prepared to leave. HR may also be delusional and think since you ‘took it’ for so long and with a bad economy they can easily replace you without taking into account your skill level or how hard it is to train a new person / fit culture / blah. Schedule a meeting with her not pop by so that she can’t blow you off. She was receptive once so maybe she’ll be nice and tell you upstairs said “no”. Being undervalued, means that you could be undervalued for years. How many years will it take for you to get to that market level salary with a 5% merit raise annually? 5 years? 10? When you put it into that context, as well as the life you could have – (buy a house sooner / have a kid sooner / awesome vacations now / save for retirement / make a nest egg), the money matters.

      Be happy, but please don’t be stupid by letting this go. It may also be that they are not willing to give any raise (big or small) until your April date, and April isn’t that far away. So ask her again, spruce up the resume, but see how April goes too.

    3. Steve G*

      I could totally imagine a situation where you get paid $70K at one place and are happy and are offered $85K at another place in “the same” situation that ends up being totally different, more challenging, and you end up being less happy. In that case the extra $200/week after taxes may not be such a huge deal for you.

      1. Mike C.*

        Sure, but that’s the magic of marginal value. If you’re talking 25k to 40k, most folks are going to jump on that without a second thought.

        1. Jamie*

          There was some study we talked about here once, i think I quoted if I’m not mistaken, but for the life of me I can’t recall -about how money increases happiness by a far greater degree until you get to the point where your comfortably meeting basic needs.

          Once you’re not sweating rent or figuring out whether to pay the electic bill or gas based on which is more likely to shut you off the same or greater increases don’t mean mean as much.

          Years ago when I went from 35k to 50k in one raise I felt like I’d want the lottery. That first check I kept taking it out to look at it – couldn’t believe my luck.

          If I got a 15k raise tomorrow that would nice and I’d certainly appreciate it, but it wouldn’t change my life in the same way as that original 15.

          Maslow hierarchy fits in here somehow.

          1. Mike C.*

            I know of the study you’re thinking of, and I believe the number was around $50k/year.

            It’s funny you talk about going from 35k to 50k, I had a similar jump in salary moving to my current job, and I totally felt the same way. I couldn’t accept the offer fast enough.

            1. PEBCAK*

              I turned down an offer for 90K when I was making about 75K. More days in the office, longer/expensive commute, worse benefits…not worth it.

              1. Sam*

                Great point! My spouse did something similar because the extra $$ was not worth the increased hours and travel requirements.

            2. Sam*

              There’s been a few studies on this topic. One from Princeton found that the golden number was $75,000. A more recent study suggested the number was $50,000. Let me see if I can find a link.

              1. Anonymous*

                I remember hearing about the study (studies?). They may have done this, but I can imagine that the number must be different depending on where you live. I live in an expensive part of the country- my salary is not great here, but it could be in another area of the country.

                1. Jamie*

                  The number would absolutely vary, but the main thrust of the money/happiness connection becoming more tenuous after basic needs are met holds true.

      2. Long Time Admin*

        I can’t imagine passing up an additional $200/week! I could overlook quite a bit for that kind of money.

        In fact, $70K is twice what I earn now, so I’d even be happy with that.

        I’m just sayin’…

    4. ew0054*

      Agreed. You’re never going to make up that difference by staying there. If you have other offers, act on one of them. For a $15k jump it should not even be a question.

  2. PEBCAK*

    I am wondering if the boss over-stepped her bounds in the first meeting, and either got slapped on the wrist or realized she had her foot in her mouth, because this:

    “She even said to me that if she was the one to hire me (the manager that hired me is no longer with the organization), she would have brought me in at a higher salary.”

    is the type of thing that nobody should ever say to a direct report. Not only is it critical of the predecessor, but if the OP is a member of a protected class, this is the type of thing that really panics HR people (not that it should, but it does).

    1. Jamie*

      This is where my money is.

      I bet she can’t shake the cash loose from tptb and is now hoping it will go away.

      People who feel that they’re underpaid don’t forget that fact and handled badly it can permeate everything they feel about their jobs.

      Manager needs to have a candid conversation with the OP about this.

  3. Yertle*

    Not to say that this is what’s happening here, but at my previous employer, one of my managers used to think it was bad to discuss any updates about potential salary increases to direct reports because he didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up (basically, every raise/promotion was kind of a surprise). I maintained (and luckily convinced him, eventually) that it is really important that a direct report knows that their manager values their work, follows through in talking to higher-ups about promotion, and is active in campaigning for them (if deserved, of course). My old manager not the only person at my company who thought this way.

    I really don’t understand that mentality at all – it’s not like the direct report doesn’t know they’re still getting crappy pay! Why is communicating about salary any different from communicating about any other aspect of the direct report’s work?

  4. Joanne*

    this would be such a deal breaker for me. It just seems so flippant, and I would lose my desire to work hard for my boss. Maybe I’m a difficult employee, but I would be pushing out those resumes!

    1. ew0054*

      You’re not difficult; just motivated. Too many people beleive the tactics used by employers to undermine confidence in the employees. They use shrewd comments or actions like what was described to make people feel inadequate, and should just “be happy with what you get.” Other employees just ‘settle in’ and stop looking to improve their situations.

      Rule 1. Never stop looking for a new job. Day one of the new job, update your resume’ and send it out again.

        1. AJ*

          I think whether or not that’s a bad rule depends on where you are in life. If you’re in a job with low stability and you’re not happy (say entry level or retail or food service) then it’s better safe than sorry. Once you get to mid professional level I’ve noticed the game totally changes. But in the early “just working to get money” jobs, you often end up getting screwed over because you’re easily replaceable anyway.

  5. ChristineH*

    Yeah, that’s really strange. I understand that the manager said up front that there were no guarantees, but I’m with PEBCAK above that she got her hand slapped (figuratively) for the initial discussion. I’m not condoning the way she handled it, but that’s my feeling as to what happened. It’s such a shame that some employers get so bureaucratic that managers can’t be human beings and have honest discussions about these things with their direct reports.

  6. Not So NewReader*

    Is this characteristic of your boss to get “testy” when faced with conflict? If yes, that could give you a few clues.
    I am not big on conflict myself. Maybe you could come in on a soft plane and gently ask what happened in regard to your salary increase. $15K is a big jump and she may have had a hard time selling the idea to others. Most companies I have worked for would not even consider such a jump. Catch her at her desk and ALONE. (She can’t blow you off again and no one will overhear.)
    I love what Alison said about her response to you. The boss went from being your advocate (“I would have brought you in with more money.”) to being an alien (not communicating where the problems are). If you knew where the problems were maybe you could offer some words of wisdom.
    It sounds like she is a new boss and she over extended herself by agreeing to that figure. She never planned on not getting backing for the raise.

    I am only talking about this soft approach because you said you like the job. You might want to consider moving on. Is it her habit to have conversations and later pretend the conversation never happened?

  7. Joey*

    I bet she went to bat for you, got denied, feels powerless, and is now hoping it will all go away. I also bet this company doesn’t do these kinds of raises based on weak (and its very weak) justification. She needs to come at them with some stronger justification. That can be data she puts together like job ads, turnover data, or exit interviews or something that will light a fire under their ass like a written job offer. Of course if it takes a written offer to get them to budge…well that’s a pretty telling message they’re giving you.

    1. Mike C.*

      “We’re not paying the market rate for your skills and experience” is not a weak justification for increasing salary at all. In fact, many would argue that it’s the only reason to ever increase wages.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think Joey meant that “2 companies approached me about jobs that pay more and other people in my field agree I’m underpaid” is weak justification. The OP might have done more research than that, but if it’s just talking to a few people, that’s not going to be convincing to most companies — you’d want more solid data than that.

    2. KarenT*

      The OP’s justification may be weak, but the manager’s agreement and saying she would have hired the OP at a much higher rate really changes that for me.

      1. Joey*

        Here is the justification that a lot of managers use.
        1. This is a great performer and I don’t want to lose him.
        2. Someone told me other companies are paying more so we must be below market.
        3. This employee hasn’t gotten a significant raise in a while.
        4. This person is hard to replace.

        The problem with that is all of the justification they’re using is anectodal. They rarely have facts or data to back anything up.

        And it’s actually kind of a bad sign that the manager would tell the employee she would have hired him at a higher salary. She just created an us vs. them mentality. The manager should have said “thanks for bringing this to my attention. I really value your work so I’m going to look into this and get back to you.”

  8. Sam*

    I’m sympathetic to the OP. I was in a similar situation – awesome job but underpaid – and it was difficult to leave. I had been hired in the recession when market rates in my field were rock-bottom and then my company went through a lengthy salary freeze. Ultimately, I realized that my boss was unable – and those above him unwilling – to bring me up to the rebounding market rates. Sometimes I miss my old job and some of its perks, but I’ve never regretted moving on.

    1. Joey*

      Jobs that pay crap are frequently designed to be awesome otherwise they couldn’t find anyone.

  9. Just a Reader*

    You need to decide how important this is to you. I knew I was underpaid in my last job–a product of the type of company and a long tenure. As long as I was treated respectfully and given opportunities, I didn’t mind. But as soon as my boss started communicating through verbal abuse, and the growth opportunities weren’t realized, it was not worth the low salary.

    I jumped ship and found a better job–and a better boss–for 30% more money, and am much happier.

    Sometimes I still want to throat punch my old boss, though.

  10. pws*

    It sounds like she made you a lot of promises that she shouldn’t have made. More likely than not she had a discussion with the higher ups and was shot down and now wants to shut the door on the topic without any more awkward conversations with you.

    I’m not sure how base salary and raises work at your company but it’s entirely possible it’s not an option to raise the base salary on your job position, not unless you actually get promoted to a higher level role. Most people I know only get a salary bump like that when they switch jobs because there’s no way they’d ever get that kind of promotion at their current job.

    My husband went through an interesting situation at the place he currently works — he interviewed for a mid-level role but b/c HR wouldn’t budge at all on salary (higher than his last job, but still underpaid for his level), his manager ended up hiring him for a level below the one he applied for, that way they could give him a promotion a few months into the job and significantly raise his base salary that way. His manager was very clear that if they hired him at the level he was applying for and committed to that base salary, it would be almost impossible for him to get up to where he wanted to be, even with raises. We did have a few nervous moments where we weren’t sure if that promised promotion was actually to happen, but his boss AND his boss’ boss were always very communicative and kept him updated on their push to get him that raise and they definitely followed through.

  11. DA*

    Any HR department worth their salt knows the going rates for various positions and would know if they are over/under paying their staff. My guess is that the HR people are terrible or upper management is forcing their hand and keeping salaries low.

    In either case, the situation is likely to not change, and if the OP is content with being underpaid, then they should stay. Otherwise, take that knowledge of you currently being underpaid and go elsewhere.

    1. Mike C.*

      “Worth their salt” is the key here. Tons of places don’t have great HR departments, or don’t have them at all.

      1. Lisa*

        The key to retaining employees is to make money never the issue. If people are not living paycheck to paycheck they generally are not going to look elsewhere unless they absolutely hate their job. its when you combine low pay with something else that makes them think the grass is greener.

        Low pay and a micromanaging boss / hostile work environment
        Low pay and a bad commute
        Low pay and bad benefits
        Low pay and boring work
        Low pay and no ladder

        Most people can live with things, but if its combined with a low pay, they hop. Low pay breeds bad thoughts (i’m not worth it / they think I am not worth it / they are sexist / they are racist / they are ageist / etc.) of course its never about you or your experience, but these thoughts destroy any happiness you had before you started to realize that you are underpaid.

        Just my 3 cents … (I asked for a raise!)

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          I would tend to agree with this, if only because research shows that money is not a good motivational tool (which people persistently disbelieve, but there it is).

          If the job give you autonomy, and to a lesser extent can feed your ambitions (the ladder in Lisa’s statement) and, yeah, doesn’t leave you living paycheck to paycheck (though many people do, regardless of how much they make), then pay becomes a much more minor issue.

          1. Jamie*

            IMO pay never becomes a minor issue and I don’t think the studies reflect money not being a motivator after that threshold.

            In the 15k example, if I felt I deserved it and wasn’t getting it its still going to be a bone of contention between my employer and myself – even though getting it wouldn’t be life changing.

            Money is more than the dollars hitting direct deposit – it’s a tangible indicator of to what degree my employer values me. Increases are significant because they show growth once you get to the point where title changes don’t matter as much. Raises are an acknowledgment that work is valued and they see retaining your services as a priority.

            Now certainly lack of raises or working under market is unfortunately a side effect of the economic downturn of the last several years means that lots of people are working below their value – but ideally money is used to acquire and retain talent and it plays an important role I how people see themselves in society and within their organization.

            It may not be the nicest sentiment, but for many people there is a direct correlation between money and success (although not the only factor, to be sure) and so to that end it will always be a motivator for a significant portion of the workforce.

            1. PEBCAK*

              I think my HR text book in grad school said that money is not a motivator, but too little of it might be a demotivator.

              1. fposte*

                And a disproportionate allotment of it is demotivating as all get out–if everybody’s getting raises but you, your satisfaction in the salary you get is likely to plummet.

  12. Samantha*

    A good way to get the raise you want is to get an offer and ask them to counter. Often, managers can’t make the case for paying more if they aren’t going to lose a person – but when it’s on the table, money can be found, and quickly.

      1. Samantha*

        The items listed in the article are absolutely fair – thanks for pointing me there. Asking for a counter-offer did work for me, though, (at my 2 year mark and I’ve been there 4.5 now) and I think it’s worth considering if a) being paid under market value is really important and b) you really do know that you are a high performer and are valued by the company. Oh and c) you’re actually willing to walk away. Sometimes I still wonder what it would be like if I had taken that job, but I’m truly glad I stayed.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, it’s absolutely true that sometimes they work out fine. It’s just that more of the time they don’t! I’m glad it worked out for you though!

      2. Mike C.*

        Now that I work for a huge company, I’ve noticed an interesting twist on the counteroffer issue.

        Given that folks here move around within the company every few years, counter offers are a lot less risky, because you aren’t “betraying the company” so to speak. Additionally, an offer letter can be the kind of data a manager can bring to their superiors supporting the idea of a raise.

        More generally, moving around is considered a fact of work life here, so managers and employees can and do have adult conversations about this issue.

        Though it also helps that company policy says you have to stick to a job for a year, and your manager can’t hold you back if the new offer is a promotion. So it may be a cultural thing as well as a “big company” thing, it’s hard to say.

        1. Joey*

          I’m going to agree with you there. I think the smaller the company the more likely they are to make the counter offer an issue. I think its because the short term ramifications of you leaving are worse so they’re more in a bind. And once the short term is no longer an issue theyre more inclined to rethink their decision. That and smaller staffs mean individual salaries get more attention. WhereAs a big company has more of an ability to step back and evaluate it more long term.

  13. Gary Winters*

    There are definitely conditions that make money a significant issue in a job. Someone might be reasonably happy with what they’re getting paid (although it is below what they hear [or know] that others in other companies are making in similar positions):
    1. The employee learns that within their own company people are making more money at similar or lower positions. I’ve been at companies where it was standard practice to hire someone at a higher salary than current employees and not give current employees meaningful pay increases.
    2. Bosses are regularly given salary increases and bonuses while employees are given none, and the company claims they don’t have it in the budget to give.
    3. The employee was promised a raise at a certain established date in the future and then the manager who promised this pretends this promise never occurred. Or, there’s a pay raise freeze across the board, no exceptions … and then the employee learns that there WERE exceptions made (but not for him).

    A manager is in a difficult situation if she thinks an employee deserves more but can’t get upper management to budge. Still, an employee deserve more honesty about it. At the very least let him know you tried, and explain why it didn’t happen. If an employee is eyed as not deserving an increase (which the employee may very well feel after promised something that didn’t happen), then he needs to be told either that’s not the case — the company really DOES value him but doesn’t have the money right now to offer an increase — or that upper management feels he needs to be performing better. At least the employee will have an honest idea about where he stands.

  14. OP*

    Thanks Alison for answering my question and thank you everyone who’s taken the time to leave their thoughts.

    Being direct isn’t the easiest thing for me to do, but as hard as it is, I will have to bite the bullet and address this head on. While there are many perks to the job, being underpaid isn’t fun, especially when I know that I’m doing a great job in my current role. My boss even nominated me for a quality award last quarter and the feedback I’ve received has been nothing but positive. And honestly if she had come back to me and said “sorry, we can’t do anything to address your raise right now, but we will look at it again in a few months” or “we will try to see what we can do come salary review time” I probably wouldn’t feel as bad about the situation as I do now. It has left a bad taste in my mouth and with my workload about to increase significantly over the upcoming months, it doesn’t leave me especially motivated. Because of my work over the last year, a client that we hadn’t had business with us in a while has given all of their business to us for 2013.

    I am in Canada and the market here, especially for my role, is in demand.

    If after I speak with her she says there is nothing they can do, I will start my job search. I’m lucky in the sense that I won’t be rushing out the door but I can look for something that will be the right fit for me and offer fair compensation as well.

    1. Joey*

      Since youre going to test the market I would suggest you really think about why you want to leave. It sounds like a big part of it is about your boss. It sounds like if she handled this a different way it might have made the difference. As you interview probably the biggest priority for you should be to find a great boss. Money, perks, duties, all that other stuff won’t matter if your boss sucks. Of course there are limits, but having a great boss shouldn’t be an area where you’re flexible.

      1. Chinook*

        I agree with Joey 100%. I have flat out told interviewers that fit and attitude (and lack of company politics) are as important to me as pay. I also would go into interviews with specific questions for the manager about how they would handle certain situations. As AAM has pointed out in the past, interviews are a two way street.

    2. anon-2*

      I’ve been in your situation myself (very common in the computer industry) — one thing NOT to do is negotiate by saying “I can get more money elsewhere, can you help me?”.

      You begin by “dropping matches”. If there’s no result – use another job as leverage. Don’t let them drag it out. Is this playing a game? Of course it is. But your management is playing a game with/on YOU. Learn how to play the game.

      And when the day does come when you “drop the bomb” — do not be surprised if they finally say “OK, we will give you what you deserve….” — one time I insisted – it has to be retroactive.
      I demanded the retroactive raise because I didn’t want them to pull any stunts on me in the future. While I didn’t get a retroactive raise, I did get a “stay bonus” (same thing, duh).

      If your management is pulling your chain on this, and forcing you to use “the gun” — don’t be afraid to do it.

      Managers and companies play that way — if they don’t respect you for the work for you, you have to use the stick. Just know that as long as you’re with this firm, that’s the way it will be.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If that’s what it takes to get a raise, you’re better off just going somewhere else that won’t treat you like that. The game you’re describing often ends badly. (See the discussion about counter-offers up above.)

        1. anon-2*

          Sometimes they end badly, other times they end well.

          The OP’s problem is – his/her management apparently has a “do not bid against yourself” policy, or has made such a decision in dealing with this individual.

          Don’t forget, management has put the OP in a bad position – they can argue “budgets”, “salary bands”, but we all know that in nearly every company, there’s an “emergency” fund to handle things like this, “off-budget”. If they want to keep someone, they will find a way to do it.

          And yes, ideally – go somewhere else, this won’t happen. But in some industries, it’s commonplace – you have to test your market value. I wouldn’t be angry enough to leave a job of 5-10-15 years, if everything else is OK besides money AND my management is willing to eat a little humble pie to make things right.

          And as far as #4 in your US News article (which I agree with, for the most part) — please note that I stated “retroactive”, or “stay bonus” (same thing) — if management has to do that once, they are less likely to mess with you in the future over money.

  15. Oscar M*

    I’d start a new post, but I found this one and my situation is similar to the OP’s…
    In June of last year, my GM told me of a promotion + raise he could offer me in August. Nothing in writing. In August it became September. In September he PROMISED that it would happen in January, and would realign my compensation until then – about $7500 more for those 4 months. Still nothing in writing.
    Yesterday, I was told that it wasn’t happening just yet, but in April instead. In the meantime I would work closer with him. When I asked why no move up in the organization, I really didn’t get a clear answer. Plus I’ve only received about $1000 of that extra compensation. And again, nothing in writing.
    This is really an abbreviated version of events. This is a young company that will be successful, only 18 months old, I’ve been there for 13 months. We’ve all been in the industry for years. I’m at an age and point in my career that I need to show I am promote-able…I can find another job doing what I’m doing now, but this has been my job description for the past 10 years, and I’m really burnt out on it.
    Any comments are appreciated.

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