I feel insulted by my raise — and I let my boss know it

A reader writes:

Last month, I had my first performance review at my first job out of college.

Despite overwhelmingly positive feedback (98/100 points) and that fact that the company boasted their “best year to date,” I got a pretty abysmal raise of just 0.5%. But the worst part was the way my manager conveyed it, with an enthusiastic “congratulations!” and saying this is the best raise he’s ever given to someone “at my level.” I responded with “do you think I’m stupid?” I pointed out that this hardly even adjusts my salary for inflation and I said that I deserve to know if my work performance is subpar in any way.

Since then, my relationship with my boss has completely deteriorated. During my review, he called me “disrespectful and ungrateful.” Since then, he’s cancelled all of our 1:1 meetings and is very unresponsive to my questions, emails, etc.

First of all, let me admit that my response could have been much, much better. I own that and I’ve apologized several times to my boss for this incident.

And just to be clear, this is a lousy raise, right? Especially considering that I accepted a below-average starting salary to get my foot in the door at this company? I get the impression that my boss took me for inexperienced and naive, tried to pull one over on me, and is angry that it didn’t work. Is there any other reason I could be getting such a bad raise (besides poor performance that my boss won’t tell me about)? How could I have stood up for myself in a more professional way?

Is there any way to salvage my relationship with my boss? I’ve been satisfied with this job other than this incident.

Ooof. “Do you think I’m stupid?” is such an adversarial response to a raise — to anything at work, really — that it’s hard for me to imagine someone coming back from that.

It’s one thing to be dissatisfied with a raise and advocate for more; that’s fine and reasonable. But what you did was more like tossing a bomb into the relationship. You basically said that you see your manager as an adversary who’s trying to screw you over … and that you think that perspective is a normal enough thing that you were willing to immediately move to the hostile language of adversaries. It’s very hard to work with someone who operates that way, and few managers will choose to.

If I were your boss, this conversation would have left me with grave concerns about your judgment and professionalism. I wouldn’t be canceling your 1:1s or ignoring your questions, but I would have had a very serious “whoa, we seem to be on very different pages about how to operate here” conversation with you, and part of that would have been serious reconsideration whether you were the right person to have on my team.

To answer your question about whether or not it’s a bad raise: It depends on factors I don’t know, like how what you’re earning compares to the market rate for the work in your area, how long you’ve been in the job (if it’s been less than a year, this could be perfectly reasonable), and how the company normally handles raises. It’s definitely lower than average (the average annual raise is around 3%), but without knowing what factors went into it, there’s no way to say whether you should be outraged, disappointed, pleased, or something else. The fact that your manager said that it’s the best raise he’s ever given to someone at your level is interesting data, although it may just mean that the company gives out really stingy raises — who knows.

But for what it’s worth, your employer never owes you a raise. You’re in a business relationship, where you get to (professionally) advocate for what you think is reasonable, and if your employer doesn’t agree to it, you get to decide if it’s a deal-breaker for you or not. (And if you decide that it is, you find another position and then give notice.)

I very much doubt that your boss tried to pull one over on you and is now angry that it didn’t work. I mean, I suppose that’s possible, but it’s far more likely that he’s just totally taken aback by your response and is trying to figure out how and whether to move forward, as any manager — good or bad — would be.

As for what to do from here … You said that you’ve apologized several times to your boss. What exactly did that sound like? Ideally it needs to be something like, “I’m mortified by my reaction when you told me about my raise. I was surprised because I was hoping for something in the range of $X, but my reaction was completely out of line. I realize I’ve damaged our relationship, but I also hope that my performance and professionalism up until now will carry some weight with you too, and that we can work to repair this. Do you think that’s possible?” If the earlier apologies didn’t sound like that and/or didn’t include that ending bit, that’s what you need to do now.

If you can’t stomach the thought of that, then I think that reaction is probably telling you that you and your boss are on such different pages that it may indeed be time to move on.

{ 654 comments… read them below }

  1. RachelR*

    Hoo boy.

    You might not be able to come back from this. Learn from this and start job searching because your manager’s reaction makes me think you won’t have this job for much longer.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      You need to be looking for a new job, regardless of your outburst. Your employer is not paying you what you are looking for, and won’t be in the future. If your manager thinks a 0.5% raise is a good raise, best to leave asap.

      1. wellywell*

        ^yes this.

        It is an insulting raise, and the boss expected you to be elated over it? OP, I can see why your response was not ideal but aside from your reaction that IS a LOUSY raise, and it IS insulting. Especially while you’re being told in the same breath that you are performing really well.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I agree. I don’t think the issue is quite so much that the OP let the boss know that the raise was not a good one but that there are better ways to convey that information.

        2. Minion*

          There are many companies that can’t afford to give raises at all, let alone a .5% raise, so I think saying it’s insulting is taking it way too far. And, the boss wasn’t expecting elation, just gratitude.
          Honestly, at my org, there hasn’t been a raise in several years. We’re doing a cost of living raise beginning with our next fiscal year, but it won’t be much – probably a bit over 1%. It’s just not in the budget, but we’re trying because we want to keep our employees and let them know they’re valued.
          I will say that if my direct report responds to her small raise by asking me if I think she’s stupid, she won’t ever have to feel insulted by another raise at this organization because she’ll be working elsewhere in the very near future.

          1. Perpetuum Mobile*

            Agree. My industry has been suffering for over a year, so last May after our annual performance review cycle no one was a raise, not even an adjustment for a cost of living. I fully expect the same this year.

          2. Mike B.*

            I think it’s a serious problem that more employees don’t take issue with this state of affairs–a far bigger problem, frankly, than a single manager getting offended because an employee called him out for blowing smoke. Has C-suite compensation in your organization stayed flat during this period of zero raises?

            1. Ashley the Paralegal*

              I’m with Mike B. The true test to see if an organization can afford it or not is if the higher ups got raises/bonuses. If they found money in the budget for that, then they could have found it for those lower level employees who were deserving as well.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Maybe. But sometimes it makes sense to do more to retain your most senior people with the hardest-to-find skills. I know not everyone agrees with that, but it’s a business reality that your CEO’s work is worth more than your one-year-out-of-school data entry clerk.

                That doesn’t mean it’s not still smart to pay competitively at all levels; of course it is (in most cases, at least, since it helps you attract and retain the best people). But it’s not realistic to pretend that your retention strategies are going to be the same at all levels of the organization.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  If your CEO is going to get pissy that you at least attempted to share the company’s good fortune with low-level employees, then maybe somebody else with less attitude could do her job.

                2. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Yeah, I have agree with Alison here (and I manage paralegals). The attorneys are the ones bringing in the business. The much of the support staff in my office is revenue-generating but not at the same level as the higher ups nor are the vast majority of the staff bringing in new clients. Not to say we DON’T raise/bonus staff, but not at the expense of losing rainmakers.

                  I had someone leave this year because they were very dissatisfied with their 1.75% raise. During the (very polite and professional) conversation in which the issue was raised, this person stated that their research indicated that the “average” raise was about 12%. No idea where they got this figure, but they were very set on it and there was no way I could meet that when (a) I’ve never gotten a 12% raise without jumping jobs or taking on significantly more responsibility with a promotion, which was not the case here; (b) our average raises for that year were less than half of that; and (c) despite being a wonderful person and a joy to work with, this person missed some significant performance targets. I would have loved to retain the person but couldn’t get close to the 12% they were sure was “normal”. (The funny thing is that, in prior years, I could not have gotten a raise at all for someone who missed the specific targets this person did but managed to get something for this person because I wanted to retain them.)

                  I do understand how a half-percent raise can feel like a slap in the face, but having an unprofessional reaction to it only makes the giver feel justified in their decision. I don’t think the boss here is handling the situation well either — cancelling one-on-ones and calling you ungrateful is not how I’d handle it.

                  Here is how my dissatisfied employee handled the situation, which I personally thought was well-handled. They thought it over and did some research for a few days and then made an appointment with me. The stated that they felt like their reviews and the increase were out of alignment because of the positive tenor of the reviews. They stated their 12% expectation and asked if there was any way for the raise to better reflect the reviews they heard. They listened to what I had to say (12% not average/typical; you are valued and very good at XYZ but missed the target on ABC, which affected your raise; here are the things you could do to improve to better position yourself for a raise), thanked me for my time, and went on their way and continued to do such a good job that they got references for their next position and/or graduate school.

                3. Mike C.*

                  In theory perhaps, but it’s difficult to swallow when the ratio of executive pay to median/average pay becomes larger and larger every year.

                4. Anonymous Educator*

                  I agree with Mike C. that the ratios matter, as do the raw dollar amounts.

                  If the executive director is making $120,000 and gets a $15,000 raise, while the entry-level worker is making $38,000 and gets a $3,000 raise , the ED is getting a higher percentage raise and a larger amount, but that doesn’t seem egregious.

                  On the other hand, if the ED is making $450,000 and gets a $45,000 raise, while the entry-level worker is making $28,000 and gets a $1,000 raise, I’d definitely raise an eyebrow on that.

                5. Blurgle*

                  Or if the CEO runs the business into the ground but gets a $3 million bonus because he golfs with the board while the (remaining) employees who actually do the work get no raise at all…

                  I honestly think that 99% of CEOs of larger companies could be replaced by a member of the mail room staff and there’d be no change in the relative success of the corporation. They don’t make rain; they make book.

                6. Mike B.*

                  Yeah. I’m all for higher pay for talented employees with rare and valuable skills, but we’re well and truly past the point where organizations are seeing the return on that investment. C-suite pay is now high and still climbing because no one at that level or within striking distance will accept anything more modest, not because organizations are getting visionary leadership.

              2. TCO*

                Raises and bonuses are retention strategies. It could be a defensible business strategy to value, and therefore reward, the higher-level executives more than the “replaceable” people at the bottom. It sucks for those at the bottom, and it’s not sustainable long-term, but it’s not automatically dumb to limit bonuses to the C-suite.

            2. Observer*

              The problem is that you don’t know that the manager is blowing smoke. Furthermore, even if the manager were blowing smoke, the way the OP reacted was so out of line that it’s not a matter of being offended or not. I do get that sometimes “Do you think I’m stupid?” is an appropriate response. But, as a FIRST response to a raise at your first job – and not that far in either (this raise came along at the same time as the first review – in fact apparently even before the one to one portion of the review).

              Of course, the OP certainly had every right to push back, although a bit of research would probably have been useful to do BEFORE shooting off to the manager. But, that’s not really the issue here. There are appropriate ways to do things, and there are ways that are not. This was not.

            3. Temperance*

              I quit my last job because they kept raising compensation for the Sales team and refused to give the rest of us even a cost of living increase over the same period. No regrets.

              1. TootsNYC*

                And this is a perfect reaction. They don’t want to retain you, so move on. They’ll get what they pay for (or, what they don’t pay for).

            4. Stranger than fiction*

              Totally. Plus she said they had their best year ever. I have a feeling the more senior employees got a better raise and she got the scraps that were leftover because she’s newest. But if he doesn’t let her schedule a one on one it’s gonna be hard to smooth this over.

            5. Minion*

              I’m not real sure what you mean by C-suite. But, then, we’re a nonprofit. No one has gotten any raises other than new employees get a 5% raise after their 6-month introductory period, which is built into the budget. Aside from that, there have been no raises for anyone for a few years.
              I just want people to understand it’s not always that management just wants to screw their employees over. That couldn’t be farther from the truth here. Our employees are the heart and soul of the organization and we value them greatly. Unfortunately, we have to find other ways to show that when there’s no money for raises.

              1. AnonyMoose*

                C-suite = CEP, COO, CFO, etc. Gotta C? You’re in the C-suite and making a helluva lot more than me! ;)

          3. Penelope Pitstop*

            ^What Minion said. The truth is that there are a lot of people at various levels of the organization who are vying for what is a limited pool of funds for increases. You may have done outstanding work and obviously, your boss seems to have thought so, but you’re still doing entry-level work. Those skills, to be frank, are the easiest to replace and there are a lot of contenders to fill your role, so at junior or entry levels, the market just doesn’t bear out paying top dollar in increases. From an organizational strategy perspective, your highest increases (percentage or dollar) would be best spent retaining high performing employees with the hardest to find skills.

            1. TootsNYC*

              And this also means your lower-level people will move out in order to move up. Which actually may be what you want. Sure, you’re always training rookies, but maybe you’ve got energy for that but not cash for raises.

              The rookies should look at it as a training ground and move on. But it’s going to be harder for the OP, because this “do you think I’m stupid?” is -always- going to be part of her reputation.

              Your reputation is such a powerful thing–it’s important not to mess it up. So, the takeaway: Think before you speak. When you’re upset, don’t let it burst out of you uncontrolled–come back to it later (unless you’ve predicted accurately, and then carefully prepared your response).

              1. Ethyl*

                “your lower-level people will move out in order to move up”

                I think this is more and more common in more and more industries. We no longer stay at one company for 50 years and retire with a party and a watch, you know?

                1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                  This has always been my experience. Even moving up within companies, my raises have been small. Hoping to another organization has been the only way to gain a significant pay increase.

              2. Megan*

                I seem to recall reading somewhere that it takes somewhere around 5k to get a new employee up to speed. If you’re replacing someone often, I bet you’d save money by just paying out a raise and retaining someone for awhile.

              3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                In my first job out of grad school my boss was super upfront about this. It was a small organization with limited resources. During the hiring process he said he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford to keep me for long, and saw part of his responsibility as coaching me and helping me network for my next role.

                I was there for four years, during which time I got super generous raises. By the time I left, my salary had increased by almost 60% (from my starting salary). He took the best care of me/lower-level staff as he could, and he sent us on our way when we needed to go. Great boss.

            2. Megan*

              They they’re going to take the attitude that you can be replaced so easily, then they need to structure it as a revolving-door job – you’re here for one year and then we fine someone else to pay the same. It doesn’t seem unreasonable, to me, that everyone gets a COL adjustment BEFORE merit raises go out – they’re for two different functions (or should be, IMHO).

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                Pay is based on market for the position, not the employee’s spending power, which is what COLA addresses. I had someone who tried to justify a raise by saying that their lease was up for renewal and had gone up. They needed a raise to offset their rent amount. Well, that’s not why we give raises. Never once did this person address their value to the organization, the quality of their work, their relationships within/outside of the organization — just their rent increase.

                I’ll be honest — I CAN replace entry level people very easily and expect them to be in the position for three years or less before the moving on. The hiring and training program is structured around this. I’m very candid about this and what needs to happen for it to be a career for them. I don’t have room for advancement for everyone, and I can’t charge more than a certain amount for our services. This natural turnover is expected and beneficial for both me and the employee. Most people go on to graduate school or move into related fields, often with the help of the networking we provide for them, a select few stay and advance. Not every position is intended to be long-tenured, and not every position/organization suffers when there is turnover.

                And, again, there are some positions for which market is declining. Why should people continue to get COLAs when the demand for what they do (and thus market pay for their position) continues to go down?

          4. Never Really Anonymous*

            Yep. If all goes well, I’ll be able to give one team member a much needed raise. Unfortunately, if all goes well, the raise will be around $25 a year. It’s likely to be seen more as an insult than a raise, but I want to give the person anything I can get. Even worse, there’s a limit to how much I can explain about why the raise is so small and I don’t think the person will believe me that I wanted to give more but even this paltry amount was a fight. Sometimes staff just have to believe that their bosses are telling the truth, even if the staff want what they’re being told to be different.

            1. AJS*

              Don’t give the raise at all. It’s much more damaging to give such a ridiculous amount than to honestly explain that the business can’t afford it. The latter is acceptable; the former is an open signal to leave as quickly as possible.

                1. Tammy*

                  Don’t do it!

                  Your best bet is using the $25 and splurging to buy the entire team coffee/donuts or bagels. During that time, explain how the group is extremely valued but the budget is too tight to give individual raises this year. That will go over much better than giving someone (literally) a $0.01 raise each paycheck.

            2. Vicki*

              From your comment, I don’t see you adding “this is the best raise I’ve ever given to someone at your level.”

              The OP screwed up, but the reaction came in response to a very stupid comment from the manager, not to the raise per se.

              And now the manager has canceled all 1:1s. OP, you’re working for a childish manager at a stingy company. It’s past time to leave.

            3. BenAdminGeek*

              $25 is too small, in my opinion. At OldJob they rolled out a process for minimizing “insulting” raises (my phrase). However, they set it too high, so I couldn’t give anyone under a $1,000 raise. Which made things even worse- most people would rather get a $500 raise than nothing, but due to the budget pool and number of employees, most people got nothing. It ended up backfiring, but the intention was good.

          5. Vicki*

            true, but.. the company boasted their “best year to date”. If the boss stills think 0.5% is “best raise he’s ever given to someone “at my level.”” after their “best year to date”, this is not a company you want to stay with.

          6. LadyCop*

            Yes! Thank you! I realize how .5% can be “insulting” but to have so many people jump on that bandwagon is appalling! So many people (including yours truly) got NO RAISE LAST YEAR (after being told I would receive one, and it was on a technicality about my start date, not a performance issue!) Hell, some people have been facing pay cuts for the last several years.

            You took a lower salary to “get your foot in the door” You don’t get to continue to hold resentment about your pay after that. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I have never had a job where a response like that wouldn’t have had me promptly fired…

          7. James*

            1% is an absolutely laughable raise. I’d be insulted if given that small of a raise. It would make me feel the opposite of valued, it would make me fell like I wasn’t valued at all. I’d much prefer to get no raise rather than get something so small.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            Say the OP’s salary was $50k. Her increase would be $250. That’s a little under $21 a month pre-tax. The morale hit for the OP costs so much more. I would argue that the company would have been better off giving the OP the raise via payroll but in the performance review mentioning that they are unable to give her a raise at this time for XYZ reason. She may not even have noticed the additional $20 in her paycheck anyway. (all this assuming the OP’s been with the company for a majority of the year and didn’t start after Halloween)

                1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  Again, review what is meant by a tax bracket. A raise will never cut your after-tax pay.

                  Uncle Sam will take more of the new money – but you will still have more at the end of the day. I advise anyone who is confused about how tax brackets work in the United States to sit back and fill out a mock 1040 – following the instructions.

                  This comes up every year “if I get a raise I will be in a higher tax bracket and get less money” — this is not the case. It NEVER is the case.

                2. Anon for this*

                  This question is directed at “The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2” but max nesting reached so…

                  So I have always understood that to be true as well, but is that also true for tax returns too, or are reduced tax returns just a symptom of that? One year when I got a new job I went from making just under $70k to $80k and my tax returns went from around $1500 the previous year to $200 the next. I got the new job 3/4 of the way through the year too. It’s possible it was a net increase (I haven’t actually done the math), but it sure didn’t feel like it.

                3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  OK Anon-for-this

                  You are apparently confusing your tax REFUND with tax paid.

                  You need to look at how taxes work. If you have too much “taken out” (withheld) you will get a larger refund.

                  The tax rates in the United States are GRADUATED. As you reach a different “tax bracket” – or, “step” – yes the tax rate rises on the money WITHIN THAT STEP.

                  So even if you get to a higher tax bracket – you still have more money at the end of the day. The tax rate rises WITHIN your bracket – but not for money you earn BELOW it.

                  All too often – people think “whoo hoo, I didn’t pay tax last year” when they get a refund. But you have to think BEYOND the paycheck and the refund.

                  Look at the 1040. You DID pay tax. A refund is a symptom of having too much withheld.

                4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  What I challenge you to do –

                  Fill out a mock 1040 with a $70,000 income (wages, etc.)

                  Then fill one out with an $80,000 wage. You’ll see you’ll get more. And…

                  NEVER NEVER NEVER turn down a raise for fear of the taxes. Here in the U.S. you will never get less if you’re paid more. There may be some oddball benefits some receive (subsidized housing, state-sponsored child care, Medicaid) which you may lose by earning more, but if you’re making your own way – a larger top line always generates a larger bottom line.

                5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  ONE OTHER THING…

                  Anyone – ANYONE – should be able to fill out a mock tax return. Yes, you have state income taxes, deductions, some may have capital gains and dividends to report – but this is a basic skill that I had to learn as a senior in high school in 1968.

                  As I recall – I was paired up with a young lady in the class – we were given a “paycheck” for a year, and a list of expenses and deductions, and we had to work it through and determine what we would pay or receive in a refund – but it was stressed that a refund is the result of an overpayment — it’s not a bonus.

                  You can download a 1040 at http://www.irs.gov. A mock return should take you 10 minutes to fill out.

                6. Dynamic Beige*

                  I was given a raise that was lower than I thought I might get. Percentages were not discussed, it was “you make X, but now you’ll be making Y which is $1500 more than X.” and I was crushed. It must have shown on my face because my manager then said “I did that so you would stay in the same tax bracket” Uh… great. I guess. Yes, $2000 would have put me into the next tax bracket just barely and I suppose that would have sucked… but I wasn’t making a whole lot of money at the time and was hoping for a bigger raise. For perspective, I think it worked out to about 5.5%

                  I have also had the “we don’t have any money for raises this year” talk from my manager at the time. I knew the company was doing badly and admitted I hadn’t expected to get one. I then found out that other people had been given raises, 10% in one case. OK, thanks for reinforcing that some comrades are more equal than other comrades around here.

                  But I’m going to agree with whoever said it would have been better not to mention the raise at all. .5%? Not even one *whole* percentage point? Sheesh does that ever sound miserly. Better to believe there was no raise and see that extra $20 than have someone be all expecting joyous gamboling over it. Better to say “unfortunately, we have a freeze on wages/raises/hiring” than point out a .5%

                  Unless the OP is making $1B/year. That would be a $5M raise :P

                7. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  “I did that so you would stay in the same tax bracket” Uh… great. I guess. Yes, $2000 would have put me into the next tax bracket just barely and I suppose that would have sucked”…

                  NO – please follow my comments – it would put that raise into the new tax bracket. You’ll still end up with more money.

                  If your boss told you this – then, you’re being conned.

                8. Dynamic Beige*

                  @The Artist… etc.

                  Well, I didn’t know that at the time, it was only my second industry job. It’s entirely possible that my manager didn’t know it either. He was someone that had been promoted from a production position, so he never really had any training that I knew of.

                  Was I being conned? Possibly. These were the days before the internet, so I didn’t have resources like this to ask about it ;) That was the only reason I was given, there wasn’t any “I really went to bat for you and TPTB were only willing to go this far/our budget is tight this year and that was the maximum I could get for you” conversation.

                9. Ms. Anne Thrope*

                  Well actually something like an extra $20 can in fact mean that you pay 40% of that $20 in tax. If your AGI goes from say $20,199 to $20,219 you go up into the next line on the tax table (which goes in $50 increments) so you wind up paying $7-$8 more tax, so your ‘raise’ basically is enuf to buy a Starbucks.

                  Conversely, when deciding what to put into an IRA, I always look at the tax table. A $2006 contribution can wind up getting me an extra few bucks off my tax as opposed to a straight $2000.

                10. Meg Danger*

                  Slightly off topic, but I wanted to mention the cliff effect. If you are unfamiliar with how CE works, search YouTube for a video called “Losing Ground.”

                  For low income individuals tax brackets actually can impact your disposable income. For example, a $20 monthly raise could result in a $150 food budget deficit (if you receive food assistance). Small raises can cause insurmountable income deficits for families who receive childcare assistance.

                  Obviously this situation is not what commenters have in mind when they say you will never lose money when you move up a tax bracket, but it is important not to make this type of generalization if you are not currently living near the poverty level.

                11. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  Megdanger – I did make a disclaimer about child care and benefits (Medicaid, subsidized housing) being affected by increased incomes.

                  But – for the majority of us who are “on our own” – higher salaries translate to more money in the pocket.

                  And many would like to be OFF public assistance of any type.

                  DynamicBeige – yes, either you were being conned – OR – your manager is seriously ignorant as to how the tax structure works here in the good old U.S.A.

                  I think it would be great if AAM did a column on how the tax structure works in this country.

              1. Fried Eggs*

                And even it’s even worse if the OP is making less than $50,000, which is highly likely in a first job out of college.

                1. Helka*

                  Yeah, unless the OP is in a pretty high-skill position, my guess would have been closer to $25-30k than 50.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Yes, odd that the boss didn’t explain what/how much they can give but expected her to be super enthused- which would be ok if they were on pay freezes and most people got zero, but he didn’t explain. Yes she did a bad knee jerk reaction but more explanation/ transparency would have been nice.

          2. Adam V*

            > Any raise is a good one.

            I completely disagree with this.

            Consider an employee who’s been underpaid for the last two years because the company says “oh, we can’t afford to pay you more”. She looks at the market and finds a new company who’s willing to pay her more. When she turns in her notice, suddenly her company offers to match or exceed the new offer.

            Consider two employees with the same job title. One works much harder than the other – metrics show they complete nearly twice as much work, with a much lower error rate. At the end of the year, their boss announces the entire team is getting the same raise.

            These are just two examples of what I’d consider “horrible raises”. A raise is a signal to your employees of how you value them. In the first case, the employee is being told “we didn’t care about how you felt until we had to worry about losing you”. In the second, the hard-working employee is being told “we don’t value your hard work”.

            A raise is more than just “more money”.

            1. The_artist_fomerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              Sometimes companies give out horrible raises to “test the waters” — nearly every company I’ve worked for has had an off-budget “slush fund” to cover situations where an employee resigns.

              In the IS/IT world, it’s a routine method. Screwball as it is, that’s what they do. You go from being middle-of-the-road to underpaid (inflation, time) – you get another job, you often get “countered”.

              The last time I went through this – I insisted that the overdue raise and promotion be retroactive. Not that I really needed the money – but – I wanted to ensure they didn’t engage in that behavior going forward. For the record, it wasn’t delivered in a retroactive increase, it was a “stay bonus” (same thing).

          3. Jeff A.*

            If the OP is being paid below market at entry level, let’s say she’s making $32,000 a year. A .5% raise is $3 per week, before taxes. If my boss said to me straight faced that I was the first person at my level he’d ever been that generous with, I would have thanked him and told him that I would be saving my extra $2 a week for the next year and then using my $100 to buy the most uncomfortable object I could find to stick up his arse.

        3. Cass*

          I’ve been in a very similar situation as the OP. I didn’t *say* what they said, but oh boy was I thinking it. My boss tried to play it off like it was an impressive thing too, so it (further) cemented in my mind I needed to move on.

        4. Green*

          “While I appreciate the raise, I was hoping for something more like X. What would I need to do to move to that level?” would have been a productive way of handling the “disappointment” (and disappointment would be a more productive thing to feel than “insult”).

        5. KH*

          I disagree that it’s an insulting raise. It *could* be insulting especially if others are getting more standard raises, but it’s possible that this is all the company can give or that they ever give. If other people are also getting raises of less than 1%, then taking it as a personal insult is just silly.

          Mind you, if a company can’t afford to give reasonable raises over time, that would be a problem for me. But it’s still not a personal insult.

      2. Nancie*

        But like Alison says, we don’t know how long the OP has been this job. They say it’s their first performance review — that could mean that they’ve been at the company a year, or six months or three months, and the review might be part of or coincide with the company’s annual review cycle, or be part of the hiring process.

        If they’ve only been there three months, I’d consider .5% acceptable. If they’ve only been there three months and raises are almost never considered at that company prior to the one year anniversary, then .5% could be considered spectacular.

        Even if they’ve been there a year, if they’re mistaken about the average salary for that position in that location, .5% could still be acceptable.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          This. For example, I’m about to make an internal move to a new position next week. I’ve already gotten a 10% raise for this promotion. Our company’s annual review cycle is complete in March. I do not anticipate getting another raise from this new job no matter how well I do in the role because I already got a raise when I was hired on. And if by some small miracle my division decided to give me another merit increase for the few weeks I’d be working with them prior to our review cycle ending, I would fully expect that raise to be minuscule.

          We just don’t have a full enough picture to know why the raise was so small.

          1. finman*

            You could try to argue that the raise was 10% of your old salary and that you should be able to get 10% increase of the merit increased old salary. It’s worth a shot.

            1. Doriana Gray*

              I think the most our company’s merit increases go up to is 7%. But my new division does things like give employee bonuses outside of our company’s review cycle (which is a big no-no here) after weathering peak work periods, they promote every one to two years, and they rent out suites at ballparks and football stadiums for their employees during slow periods.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Well, maybe things have changed. My first job out of college, I was making $22K (this is in 1992, ouch). My first raise got me up to $24K which I think happened within 6 months (it was a long time ago). If my employer had said to me “and you’re getting a .5% raise! Isn’t that fantastic?!?” Uh, no, it would not have been. Because an extra $110 per year — that would have covered my electric bill for a couple of months. Big whoop. It would have been an indication to me that if I wanted to earn more, I would have to go elsewhere (which I eventually did anyway, because like others have said, that is the only way to jump up the pay grades these days)

          2. TrainerGirl*

            When I started my current position, I’d been there for 6 months when the review cycle happened. I got a 2% raise, which I was quite surprised and pleased to get, because I didn’t think I’d get anything. This will be my first full year review, so it will be interesting to see what the raises looks like. From what I’ve heard, raises aren’t that great, so my 2% might turn out to be spectacular.

        2. Lora*

          I agree with this. I once worked at a hospital where I was less than two months shy of working there a year when annual raises went out. My manager told me that while I wouldn’t get the full raise because I had been there less than a year, I would be getting a pro-rated raise. Yeah, it kinda sucked, but I understood the reasoning behind it too. In OP’s situation we just don’t know the whole story. Maybe the raise was an insult, maybe it wasn’t. If she had been there for three months and the company never gave out raises until someone had been there a year, even at a .5% raise would be positive.

      3. Brownie Queen*

        Last year on my review, despite receiving Exceeds Expectations in all areas, I got 0%.

        Yes, I am looking for a new job and it looks like with a .5% raise and being told that is the highest your manager has ever given, you should be too.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          If the company is doing well financially – when you do find another position – brace yourself for a counter-offer. Most companies put aside a slush fund (at least they do in IS/IT) to cover “employee retention”.

          Or simply “contingencies”.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Maybe, maybe not. If the OP has been there three months, most companies wouldn’t be giving a raise at all, and the manager could have gone to bat to get her something anyway. We just don’t know based on what’s in the letter.

        1. BRR*

          Exactly, I’m having my first performance review three months in. I have done a surprising amount for being so new but I in no way expect a raise (partially because I think they’re super rare at my organization).

        2. Anna*

          But if she scored 98/100 on her review and that garnered 0.5%, I would wonder what I would have to do to get a more standard raise. Or I’d expect my manager to make it clear what the situation was. Context is important in the other direction, too.

        3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          At my last company, if you had been there more than 6 months, you were eligible for the full raise allocation of 5%, if you were there 3-6 months you could earn up to 2.5% and if you were there less than 3 months you were not eligible.

          However, this was part of my initial conversations with people when talking about performance management and it was explicitly stated in the handbook.

      5. Green*

        A lot of departments have raises that are capped by business performance and get to distribute those among employees. Unfortunately, instead of just saying “raises were capped this year because of business performance” some managers try to put a positive spin on the corporate line. I don’t think the raise, while disappointing, is the issue here. It’s that the manager and OP’s relationship may be unsalvageable.

  2. Rin*

    I don’t have any real input, but this reminds me of The Office, when Stanley yells to Michael in the meeting, “Did I stutter?” I think it was one of the few times that Michael handled it really well, by telling him privately something along the lines of “I know you don’t respect me, but you just can’t talk to me that way,” and they both agreed. I wish the OP’s boss would be more communicative, since cancelling all meetings with the OP doesn’t help anything. Maybe OP can set up a meeting to hash it all out?

    1. Doriana Gray*

      I wish the OP’s boss would be more communicative, since cancelling all meetings with the OP doesn’t help anything.

      Yeah, OP’s reaction was totally unprofessional, but the boss is being equally unprofessional by doing this. You don’t get to opt out of doing your job (e.g. giving feedback) just because you’re pissed. Cancel that day’s meeting if there was another one set to give yourself time to calm down, sure. But cancelling all of the meetings? That’s extreme, especially since he hasn’t let the OP go yet.

    2. Jinx*

      I didn’t like Michael’s character in the Office, but I think that’s one of the episodes where he handles something pretty well (or as well as he can).

  3. Gwen*

    I agree that this is probably not a salvageable relationship; in the future, I would try to consider what you’re hoping to gain from an aggressive reaction like this. If your boss WAS “pulling one over on you,” did you think angrily confronting him would make him “give in” and give you a bigger raise? That seems unlikely, and a boss who was trying to trick you probably isn’t one that you can happily work with in any case. In pretty much any situation, coming out guns a’blazing in a professional context is generally not going to net you a positive outcome. Really, the only benefit of being aggressive like that is venting your own anger…is having the chance to lash out worth more than a good relationship with your manager/a good reputation going forward? I would say no.

    1. olives*

      “If your boss WAS “pulling one over on you,” did you think angrily confronting him would make him “give in” and give you a bigger raise?”

      Having met a few people who behave like this in social situations, my guess is they were hoping for something like, “Hah! You are more clever than I thought. I’ll have to give you more then, now that you have uncovered my ruse!”

      Which…isn’t exactly professional behavior. In the slightest. It’s more like mob behavior, and even then you’d still run an incredibly large risk by responding that way to someone with power and authority over you.

    2. Doriana Gray*

      Though I do admire OP’s guts for saying what she said, lol. I wanted to say something similar at my last job when I got a measly 30 cent raise after getting an Exceeds Expectations review and having worked an additional 20 hours a week of OT for eight months straight. Luckily for all involved, my previous employer mailed our raises home, otherwise, I would have lost my job that day.

      1. Green*

        It’s not “guts” here — it’s poor judgment. We don’t even know if OP here was justified in feeling miffed about the raise (lots of people don’t get raises at all!).

          1. Green*

            Fair. I am reminded of the update from December that included insults grandpa had come up with for a meddling coworker. It would take guts to say most of those (and they were funny in theory, and coming from grandpa), but saying them out loud at work would have been poor judgment. :)

        1. Anna*

          That other people don’t get raises so she should be grateful is like telling someone grieving for a lost pet that other people lose family members so their grief is unwarranted. It’s a way to tell someone they don’t have a right to their feeling and it’s not true. Lots of people don’t get raises andsaying that those who do should shut up and be grateful does not address the fact that people aren’t getting raises when maybe they should.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            “Other people don’t get raises so you should shut up and be grateful” is unhelpful, yes.

            But “it’s pretty common for some people not to get a raise at all” can be useful data to have too, when trying to figure out how to place something in a broader context.

            It really depends on the context it’s being said in.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              If used in what you tell yourself, it might be helpful for coming down off the ceiling. While I agree that a half a percent sounds pretty small, it beats the heck out of no paycheck. Sometimes I tell myself things in this format: “I can be right or I can have a paycheck. I can only have one. Which one do I want?”

          2. Green*

            People can feel however they want, but the “all the feels” part of this isn’t productive for OP. OP likely doesn’t know what is normal at this company (or maybe even in this industry) and is just out of the first review, which went well until feelings happened.

            Ultimately what we’re doing at work is bargaining away our time/labor for a price. If a time comes when we’re not OK with the price that we’re bargaining away our time/labor for, we can seek other partners. For example, my company doesn’t do raises very well unless you’re getting a promotion to another position. But I still feel like I’m well-compensated for the work that I do and appreciated. Raises are just one component to compensation. It’s fine to feel disappointment (or insult, or outrage), but some of those are less productive than others in a business/professional context. … so turn it off! (Like a light switch!)

          3. KH*

            I don’t think the two situations are comparable and also I don’t see anyone saying “shut up and be grateful”.

            In context the OP asks “this is a lousy raise, right?” and talks about how the raise doesn’t even adjust for inflation or make up any of the difference in her low salary. And she clearly states that this is her first performance review in her first job.

            Given those questions, I think it’s both informational and appropriate to point out that there are a great many people and industries who don’t get raises at all – or haven’t in years. There really isn’t a national “standard” for raises and she needs to know that.

              1. Jaydee*

                It’s the default used on AAM. Rather than the more common norm of assuming someone is male unless told otherwise, around here female pronouns are used as the default.

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        Using the example of a $30k/yr full-time job that has been brought up in other comments, a 30-cent raise (per hour) would be significantly more than a 0.5% raise. If the hourly wage started at $15, then a raise of 0.5% would be an increase to about $15.08.

    3. Pete*

      I’m going to be the dissenter on this one.

      1) Every company I’ve worked with or for has paid lip-service to “open and honest communication.”
      2) At the same time, this guy’s boss tried to dress up a real-dollar pay cut as something to be excited over: which is insulting at best.

      Result: Employee accurately assesses the financial impact and the fact that he’s being treated like an idiot (You gave me a 0.5% raise over a year with 3.5% inflation, and expect me to be excited?) and openly communicates that he’s not stupid. The implication that he’d prefer to not be treated like he’s stupid was unspoken but still clear.

      Instead of responding to the complaint of being “disrespectful and ungrateful” with penitence, I’d be tempted to face it like an adult: “Let’s be honest, you offered me a pittance and expected me to be thankful for the insult. I can do the math, if you hired someone straight out of college today you’d pay them more than you’re paying me. What did you really think my reaction would have been? The disrespect in that meeting was not coming from the only person who elected to be honest.”

      That said, I look very unkindly upon people to feel like they can be rude and insulting, then hide behind their rank to avoid the normal human reactions and blow-back.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        The thing is, it’s more than possible to express disappointment etc (the script Alison gave, eg) without getting confrontational and aggressive about it. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and I genuinely don’t understand what good could come of OP’s response. It’s not a straight either respond as she did, or pretend to be super-happy about it.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Open and honest communication still has to be presented professionally, and “Do you think I’m stupid?” is not professional — it’s adversarial. I’ve handled salary complaints for year, and never once has such a confrontational response received more money. Many of the complaints that I field tend to stem from unrealistic expectations about what a “good” raise is, an over-assessment of their market value, or failure to take into account the full benefits offered by a position. (I find that often when people “do the math” on me, they are working with ideal numbers and not actual numbers, too.) However, there have also been times when the raises *I* wanted for people weren’t approved by higher up, and I got another swing at the ball by someone coming to me with an issue.

        I personally welcome people coming to me with their complaints because, if there is something we can work out together to make us both happy, I always appreciate the opportunity to do that. But sometimes, the answer is that they are being paid market value and have to decide whether to stay with what we can offer or to start looking. I’m sad to lose people, but I have a limited pool of funds for increases and bonuses and no one is irreplaceable, not the employee, not the boss. I’m not trying to personally insult them, but the job pays $X.

        (And I think OP’s boss handled this just as poorly as the OP did. I also don’t expect people to get excited about raises, and I don’t hype their increases at all. It is what it is. But no one should be rude and insulting, and OP’s response was definitely rude as was the boss’s.)

      3. BBGoat*

        I understand the sentiment and frustrations of the letter writer. I also agree with Allison that the letter writer could have handled this more professionally. What I really resound with is Pete saying, “this guy’s boss tried to dress up a real-dollar pay cut as something to be excited over: which is insulting at best.”

        I have a great example of this last year. My employer decided to reward those of us who took no sick time. So, what did they do? They gave those of us with no sick time a $35 gift card. Which was an utter joke. We decided to calculate of much of a joke it was.

        I work in a setting where calling in sick requires someone to cover your shift.

        The math worked out to this:

        54 hours of sick time is granted each year x my hourly rate (35.63) = $1,924.02

        $1,924.02 x my coverage for my sick time (overtime) 1.5 = $2,886.03

        Total cost of my sick time to the company $4,810.05

        My perfect attendance award / Total savings to the company for me not taking sick time

        = 0.73% return on the cost saving the company earned

        Like I said an utter slap in the face. Personally, I would have rather received no award just a nice card from my manager saying thanks for saving the company five thousand dollars. If everyone worked as hard as you we could have saved over 250 million dollars last year.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          It’s a weird thing to reward though, because I am not a better person/employee if I don’t get sick, I’m just lucky. The wording you want is just wrong, it should be “if everyone was as fortunate as you”.

  4. Brett*

    No where in this letter does the OP mention the norms at this organization. In some organizations, a raise like this would be a message that you are on your way out. In other organizations, a raise like this would take extraordinary measures to secure and a sign that you are highly valued and have a manager who will fight tooth and nail for you.

    1. Jinx*

      Yeah – it depends on what kind of raises are typical, and how much control managers have over the raises. If the typical yearly raise at OP’s place is 2-4%, then I can definitely see getting *flames on the side of my face* over 0.5%. But if getting a raise at all is rare, then 0.5% is “good” by comparison.

      If it was the latter situation, I think the manager could have handled it better by saying “I know this is a low yearly raise, but we aren’t given much leeway and I did x, y, and z to make sure you got something.” And I could understand OP still being frustrated by that, and even starting a job search because of it.

      1. Green*

        And starting a job search is a completely professional response to dissatisfaction with your current compensation.

  5. F.*

    FWIW, a lot of people would have been grateful to get even 0.5%. Many of our employees have not received any sort of raise in over four years. The company does not OWE you a raise of any sort, not even cost of living, unless it is built in to a signed contract. If you feel you are not being compensated to the level you deserve, then (absent a contract) you are free to move on at any time. As for repairing the damage done by your off the cuff comment, if it was a one-off type of thing and your behavior is otherwise extremely professional, I would think a very heartfelt apology along the lines of Alison’s advice would possibly help mend the relationship. However, if this is not the first time you have behaved in an unprofessional manner, then I would say the bridge is burnt.

    Just to make you feel a little bit better, I imagine nearly every one of us here have behaved in an unprofessional manner at some point in our careers. The key is that you learn a couple of lessons: 1) the true nature of an employer/employee relationship; and 2) to THINK, THINK, and THINK AGAIN before acting or reacting in an unprofessional manner. Been there, done that, have the grey hairs to prove it.

    1. Spooky*

      That’s where I am. I’ve been at my company for over a year, and have taken on all the work of several laid-off employees, and I haven’t even received a cost-of-living increase. Any raise at all would have been nice.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I don’t know that it’s very useful to scold the OP by saying, in essence, some people have it worse. That’s true of most of the letter AAM publishes.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah. I mean, federal employees went 3 years without even a cost-of-living increase, which sucked, and our current COLA increases have been pretty small too. While it makes me want to leave a flaming bag of poo outside certain congresspersons’ offices, I understand fiscal and political realities.

          1. Dan*

            But you get step increases, which isn’t something the private sector is familiar with. On the outside, we use terms like “cola” and “merit” raises, but the reality is, they’re all the same.

            One big difference between the feds and the private sector is that you guys can do some long term planning with pay expectations. Lots of us can’t.

              1. Dan*

                But you get them, and you know when they’re coming and by how much. That is far more than most on the private sector can ever say.

                If I get no cola adjustment, there is no step increase, either now, or a year or two from now.

                1. happy happy*

                  Not sure about federal employees, but I work for a public school district, and our step raises amount to about .3% per year. Yeah, that’s 3/10 of a percent…so enjoy your extra lunch at Subway every month. Our state has not given us a “real” raise in 9 years.

                  Better than being unemployed, though.

                2. Elysian*

                  When I worked for a school district they froze step increases for years – its not like we had any kind of guaranteed raise. (They also increased our health insurance and pension contributions every year that I was there, so not only were we not keeping up with cost of living, but my paycheck got literally smaller every year.)

                3. Omne*

                  Our state has frozen step increases in the past as well as across the board increases. Nothing is guaranteed more than the 1-2 years until the next contract.

          2. Mike C.*

            I wouldn’t blame you for being angry about it, and frankly I’m angry on your behalf for being treated as political pawns.

        2. neverjaunty*

          But we don’t have enough information about the OP’s situation to know that this is a helpful perspective at all. We don’t know anything about the OP’s industry or company to suggest that the offered raise is exceptional, normal or terrible. And without that information, telling the OP that some people have it worse is not very informative.

          1. Green*

            I disagree. OP is just out of school. Understanding that at many companies and in many organizations, annual raises (which are part of pop culture) aren’t necessarily the norm (and are certainly not the norm in times of low business performance), may cause OP to set aside some preconceived notions about what they are owed and what is normal. Also, some perspective on performance ratings systems might be helpful — some have forced curves, where a middling score is deemed “strong” performance. Others tend to cluster nearly everyone at “exceeds expectations,” which makes it less meaningful to exceed expectations. All of this depends on OP’s organization, but OP doesn’t seem to have that basic perspective, since she wrote into an advice blog asking if that’s an insulting raise without providing organizational benchmarking.

          2. Laurel Gray*

            Yeah, this. Because if I was the OP and was working for a private company or even a public one and I received a .05% raise and was furious about it, I don’t really know if hearing from random people who are fed or union employees tell me about them not receiving raises for a while would help. I hope the OP provides some context about it all. Generally speaking, .05% as a raise sucks, IMO. It’s $500 for $100k and $250 for $50k which is only an extra $41.67 and $20.83 a month respectively. Ridiculous.

            1. Green*

              I work at a massive international public company and we get crappy raises but are still well-compensated.

        3. stiveee*

          The perspective of someone who hasn’t given their employees a raise in four years? I’m not sure I want to see it from that angle.

          1. F.*

            Note: My perspective comes from me alone. It is not the opinion of the owner of the company for which I work. He is the arbiter of all raises. I have no authority to raise salaries and can only make requests on behalf of employees.

          2. Observer*

            In many cases, that’s an appropriate response. What you want and what is useful to you may not always be the same thing.

            In this case, the perspective is useful to the OP because the OP assumes that the only possible reasons that the raise was so low is either the boss was trying to mess her over and take advantage of her or that there is a performance problem that the boss is hiding from her. And, she’s asking for a blanket pronouncement that this was definitely a lousy raise. The four years without a raise perspective says “maybe not” to both of those assumptions.

      1. Karowen*

        I don’t see this as scolding so much as pointing out something that the OP doesn’t seem to realize. Based on their reaction, they think they’re owed a COL increase, F. is reiterating that no one is owed any increase, including COL, and that the answer to “this is a lousy raise, right?” is “not necessarily.”

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          “they think they’re owed a COL increase”

          And this may speak more to the OP’s background. If the OP grew up in a blue collar family or has family members that work under a union contract, OP may be led to believe that ALL employees are entitled to COLAs. But this isn’t true. It’s only true if you have a contract that guarantees it. But if you’re new to the work world and your only previous experience was with family members working under contract, you may grow up thinking that COLA is a requirement in all workplaces.

      2. Kyrielle*

        The point isn’t “some people have it worse” by itself, though, but that “0.5 is not necessarily an unreasonable raise; not everyone even gets a raise”. One of OP’s questions was whether it’s a terrible raise as they thought, and as Alison pointed out, that depends on context.

      3. Jennifer*

        Yeah, but it’s really, really hard for me to feel sympathy to “I didn’t get a good enough raise,” especially in this day and age. Last year’s raises were two cents and I wasn’t even eligible for that.

        1. SuperAnon*

          That’s your issue, and if you put up with it, your problem. Just because you didn’t receive a raise doesn’t mean that everyone should be grateful for the tiny amount they received.
          Sure not everyone receives raises, but quite a few places do. Don’t paint everyone with your crappy brush.

    3. AVP*

      I cringe when I think of how I learned that lesson. A few times.

      OP, I think unfortunately these are a couple of lessons that you learn after being in the working world for awhile. The one about appropriate reactions will be helpful to you in the future. And I think the idea that people just automatically get raises for being a high performer or for inflation is outdated, so it’s good that you have an opportunity to adjust your expectations around this now. You agreed to do the work for the initial salary price, so you know thats what the work is worth to them – they don’t care that you asked for less than you might have to get your foot in the door, and the power that you have here is the ability to job search and found a better paying position elsewhere. I know I would be happily shocked with a .5% increase that I didn’t have to make a strenuous case for, and I think it’s something that a lot of workers are also facing in the post-2008 economy.

      1. M-C*

        Agreed, AVP. The thing, OP, is that by taking a substandard salary to begin with you have basically proclaimed that there are things more important to you than salary. So, assuming that others got better raises (take to heart the previous discussions about context), it wouldn’t be the least surprising that you’d be at the end of the queue when/if raises are being distributed. When you take a lower salary “to get your foot in the door”, you’re getting your foot in the door of the industry, not of that specific company. It’ll be basically impossible for you to catch up if you stay put (I’m sure you’ve heard about exceptions, but they’re very exceptional, you can discard them applying to you as a rule). So you’re going to have to leave anyway to get yourself back up to standard, if only because this company is cheap, which they demonstrated by not paying you enough to begin with (they traded reliable tested competence for a lower salary). So don’t feel too bad that you’re now going to have to move because of your totally unprofessional reaction to the small raise.. Just try not to do either of these things again :-)

        1. TootsNYC*

          When you take a lower salary “to get your foot in the door”, you’re getting your foot in the door of the industry, not of that specific company. It’ll be basically impossible for you to catch up if you stay put

          This is true. Once you have taken less money, that employer has no reason to reward you with money. They’ll certainly never bring you up to a higher earning level at the same position. You might get a big move up there, but you also might not–you might need to move out in order to move up.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Commonplace in the IS/IT business. The lucky ones are those that DON’T have to do that, and that is rare.

    4. Mike C.*

      I’m sorry, I think the raise is incredibly insulting.

      Being told that you’re doing amazing and getting high scores only to get a raise that barely meets inflation is rather crappy, especially after a record year. Just because other people have had their wages frozen and workloads doubled up doesn’t mean no one else can ever complain.

      So regardless of the ill-advised actions of the OP, let’s not pretend for a second that this is considered “a good raise”.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        We don’t know if it was a year though. If she graduated college in May and this was her first job, this may very well have been a 6-month review.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Or less. Did boss go over the math with OP? For instance, if OP started in mid-September, they may have qualified for a 2% raise, but that was pro-rated to 2% * 0.25 of year worked = 0.5%

          Or other places I’ve worked there was an across the board COL increase of X% that every single person got, and then the 0.5% would be a merit increase on top of that – so OP would get 2% COL + 0.5% merit = 2.5%

          There are also industries where no one has gotten an increase for several years running, so while 0.5% is definitely on the low end, it’s better than 0 for 3 straight years, or even being told to take unpaid time off to cut your wage down 10% or 20% like I experienced in 2007-2010.

          But regardless, “do you think I’m stupid?” is not the best way to approach this. Something like “Wait – how does 98/100 correspond to only 0.5%, am I missing something?” might be a better approach.

          1. Mike C.*

            Understand that I’m not supporting the outburst. I haven’t said that I have but some folks will think that because I’m empathizing the feelings behind it or being critical of other parties that the outburst is fine with me as well. It’s not.

            There’s that old Judge Judy line about, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining”. Same feeling here.

            1. Meg Murry*

              Oh, I understand Mike. My last paragraph was commentary on the thread in general/OP’s behavior, not your perspective in particular.

        2. Turtle Candle*

          I wondered about this. At my company, raises are at least COL, and most people get more than that. But as a rule, you don’t get your first raise until you’ve been with the company a year (partly because the learning curve is such that it’s hard to tell how good someone will be until they’re both fully trained and have some time on a project post-training, which does take about that long). Getting a raise of any kind earlier than that (for instance, at a 6 month review, or a year-end review that falls at 7 or 8 months or something) would mean the manager seriously going to bat, and it would be a sign of them really wanting to retain you. That doesn’t mean that 0.5% would be a “good” raise at the company, but that any raise at all at that point means you’re doing awesomely.

          Now…obviously the employee won’t know that if they aren’t told. But culture mismatches can go both ways; if a manager thinks most companies do it that way, they might not think to explain “normally people don’t get any raise at 6 months” or whatever. So I do wonder.

          (Obviously we have no idea if the LW is at under a year, or if their company does things that way, but since the LW asked whether such a raise was low, I figure it’s worth mentioning as a possible.)

          1. Mike B.*

            If it’s the case that OP’s first raise was artificially small for technical reasons unrelated to her performance, then the manager was incredibly clueless in presenting it without that context. But I think that’s an unduly charitable interpretation–it sounds as though he either genuinely expected her to be grateful and happy for a raise that probably did not even cover her annual rent increase, or hoped that she would be too intimidated to challenge him.

            1. The Bimmer Guy*

              I completely understand how OP feels. But her response–as she knows–was so far out of line that it pretty much exceeds any transgression or ill will on the boss’s part. A similar scenario would be one in which I think there’s a mistake on my restaurant bill…so I decide to take straight it to level ten cuss the waitstaff out.

        3. finman*

          Both times I joined a company, first was in June second was in December, I got the same range of raise as everyone who had been there for the whole year.

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            But different organizations do this differently. Ideally, the OP would have asked her boss how raises are determined.

        1. Mike C.*

          I’m a human being and if I’m not being treated in a fair or honest manner I’m going to be angry about it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to react outwardly, but this cold, “it’s just business” thing doesn’t cut it for me.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            But being angry isn’t really constructive. If you think your work is worth more, then it’s time to find another job that will pay you what you’re worth.

            1. Mike C.*

              But it’s a natural, human reaction. Feeling pain after being punched in the gut isn’t all that useful either but I really can’t do anything about it, can I?

              1. Lee*

                The reactions of feeling pain after being punched and a perception of not being treated “fairly” are not really comparable.
                Most everyone will feel pain after being punched, due to cells signaling our nervous system reactions/etc…however getting angry after a perceived injustice is certainly based on experience and personality, NOT being “a human being”.
                When someone treats me unfairly, I like to think of the Veronica Mar’s motto: “Don’t get mad, get even.”

                1. Joanna*

                  Yeah, but if being treated unfairly wasn’t painful, why would you want to change the status quo?

                  Much of the physical pain we feel serves the quite useful purpose of motivating us to avoid behavior that could be permanently harmful to our bodies. If touching extremely hot things for less than a second was never painful, there would be a lot more children with serious burns in this world.

              2. Green*

                It doesn’t matter what you feel on the inside unless, like many/most people, that seeps into how you communicate it externally. In which case it’s better to to try to control your internal emotions first (by wondering if there are perspectives you haven’t considered, assuming best intent, etc.) before trying to communicate outwardly. It’s also perfectly normal to get annoyed when somebody messes something up at work, but I try to adjust my inner attitude first before addressing it with the person so I don’t come off as annoyed, angry or irritated over a mistake.

              3. Not So NewReader*

                I agree, just like we are supposed to feel many other emotions, we are supposed to be able to feel when we are angry, too.
                The problem is not anger. The problem is what we do with that anger. Personally, I would be energized enough to stay up to 1 am sending out resumes. The key is to channel that anger into something productive either for ourselves or for the situation.

          2. Kyrielle*

            I don’t read “taking it personally” as being about feelings so much as the narrative you build around them. Feeling hurt at a disappointing raise is natural. Spinning a story that your boss thinks you’re an idiot and is trying to game you because they think it will work, however, is taking it personally – it’s assuming (and narrating) that the reason is personal. It’s completely possible that the company is just cheap and 0.5% *is* amazing from this boss.

            That doesn’t mean you have to be happy with 0.5%, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be re-evaluating whether you want to be there. It just means you don’t need to react from a place of “the boss has something against me” or “the boss is mistreating *me* specifically” rather than “this situation bites, this raise is lousy, and they think this is excellent? Guess I’d better figure out how to make my case, or start looking if that doesn’t work.”

            The latter is a lot less likely to lead to saying unfortunate things to your boss. It doesn’t preclude being hurt, annoyed, or even angry – but reinforcing it with personalizing assumptions is probably overkill.

          3. Eplawyer*

            But we don’t know she is not being treated in a fair and honest manner. Her boss told her what her raise was and it was the biggest he’s ever given. It is the OP who thinks he is putting one over but there is no evidence of that. She is not entitled to a full briefing on the state of the company’s finances and rationale for raises.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Whether or not she is “entitled” to anything, it’s simply good business practice to explain to employees why their compensation is what it is.

              1. Ethyl*

                Yeah, it feels like there are multiple places where this all went wrong — the boss not explaining why this 0.5% raise was so great (it could be really exceptional for someone so soon out of school, or be prorated for them working less than a year, or an industry standard, we just don’t know!), the OP obviously reacted badly, and then the manager chose to act immaturely by avoiding OP and reacting angrily instead of saying “that is an extremely inappropriate reaction.” What a mess, OP, this sucks, and you should probs be looking for another job, sorry to say.

              2. A Manager*

                It doesn’t really sound like she gave him a chance to explain anything. She basically called him a liar and, if I were the manager, I would be so shocked that I might not even think to explain further.

          4. Observer*

            The “It’s business” is important for two reasons. One is that yes you ARE a person and it’s good to remember that this kind of thing is not a reflection on you. It’s for you personally and also because it helps to moderate your reaction. Also, when you think of it in those terms, it’s far easier to respond in a way that has a higher chance of getting you what you want.

      2. Rhiannon*

        I agree with you. If OP is entry level, that percentage of raise probably only amounts to $100-200. That’s not a raise…more like a small bonus.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Yeah, the 5-10 cent per hour raises are kind of embarrassing. Seriously, a lot of people are defending this practice, but my not-at-all-great-employee kid got a 25 cent/hr raise for his first raise at McDonald’s. This was somewhere around 1 month of service. He could have gotten another 50 cents an hour but he didn’t like being told to smile and the manager wouldn’t give it to him, based on his attitude. Giving someone a dime an hour raise in a professional job is kind of insulting, esp. when their next raise is probably another year away.

          I hate to have an ungrateful attitude myself, but if the company has to struggle to give someone a $100-$200 raise, and most people aren’t getting that, it’s not a place I want to be working. Call me spoiled.

          1. Ad Astra*

            I have to agree that $100-200 (BEFORE taxes!) is not something that makes me feel appreciated, even if my manager had to go to bat for me to get that. I’d almost rather get no raise at all. Or a bonus, so I could have that $100-200 all at once.

            1. One of the Sarahs*

              I was going to ask, genuinely, the people who’s saying it’s insulting – is it better to get no raise than one that’s small? And how would you have that conversation?

              Sorry if this sounds snarky, it’s 100% not meant to, I’m just having wording issues tonight!

              1. AnotherAlison*

                For me, it would depend on how it was framed. The whole way the OP’s manager framed it, yes, I would rather have 0 than 0.5%. If it was framed such that the manager showed they knew it was a crap raise, then I would be indifferent to whether I got 0 or 0.5%.

                I don’t know why I have such a ‘tude about it, but it’s kind of like, dude, if money is that hard for the company to come by, keep it. I’m not hard up for cash, and I can always sell some DVDs on Craigslist if I need an extra $3 a week. Your raise shouldn’t be a rounding error.

                Also, with a “0” raise for everyone, it can send a signal that the company is making big changes, and maybe next year will be different, depending on what was driving the flat raises to begin with.

              2. Rhiannon*

                Honestly, yes, I would rather get no raise than a $100 raise. A raise is supposed to show that my overall value to the company is higher than it was when I was hired. Usually this happens by working hard and demonstrating value in multiple ways (maintaining good relationships with colleagues and clients, taking on extra projects, etc). A paltry raise pays lip service to everything I do without actually following through on giving something of value to me.

                If my company wants to give me an extra $100, I would rather they give it to me after I do a great job on something and call it a bonus for my hard work. That shows that I was valuable in one individual instance rather than overall, but it would make me more motivated to find other ways to show value (in the hopes of getting a raise).

      3. AnotherAlison*

        I also agree this raise is crap. While I see people commenting here that new hires don’t get raises for a year at their place, I got my best raises as a new hire. It’s a lot easier to give a 6% raise to someone making $30k than making $130k.

        But, my main problem (aside from the obviously inappropriate reaction) is that the OP said they took the job at a below average starting salary to get their foot in the door. The company showed you how they value employees, particularly those in your position, when they hired you. Don’t be mad at THEM when they continue to show you that. Be mad at yourself for not believing who they really were the first time they showed you.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          But, my main problem (aside from the obviously inappropriate reaction) is that the OP said they took the job at a below average starting salary to get their foot in the door. The company showed you how they value employees, particularly those in your position, when they hired you.

          Yup – this too. I completely missed that part of the letter. OP, start job searching. Working for broke people (or cheap people) never ends well.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I got my best raises as a new hire. It’s a lot easier to give a 6% raise to someone making $30k than making $130k.

          Ditto. The last place I worked, they capped all raises for people who earned more than $XX,XXX. Which was me. Saved them money, but it was really annoying. I was glad to be able to give a nice raise to the people who worked under me, but I personally wasn’t keeping up with the COL.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Yep, OP, they have been showing you right along.

          Now you have a manager that escalates his reactions based off your reactions. I would not be surprised if he never comes down off the ceiling on this one. But if he does, he has shown you who he is as an individual. OP, you have red flags going on all over the place here. Please say you are job hunting.

      4. Miss M*

        We also don’t know the financial state of the company. Maybe finances are tight or like everyone else they’re facing higher insurance costs? I’ve worked in places (publishing) where during 2008-2009 we had to take 10 percent paycuts and then cost a 2% salary increase as a way of honoring our work and building morale.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Maybe the company did but her department didn’t. Maybe her boss is fighting to keep their department fully staffed rather than cutting positions. Maybe the boss needs to put his limited raise budget toward retaining more senior/skilled employees. In other words, maybe the company’s year doesn’t translate into the raise budget her boss was given to work with, and maybe there are actually logical reasons for that. We really don’t know from the information in the letter, and it’s a disservice to the OP to encourage her to feel screwed over when we don’t have enough information to know if that’s the case or not.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Or maybe the company had record profits and gave them all the the CEO’s favorites, but we DON’T know.

            2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

              But it’s also a disservice to break your back bending for reasons to tell her she’s wrong for thinking something’s up here.

              In my career, we once had annual bonuses that were announced for a date and then didn’t happen. No announcement, nothing. Eventually, when pressed months later, the CFO admitted that one department had had a massive loss in the last 2-3 weeks of the year that wiped out profits and meant that no one got a bonus that year. That context given in December would have made everyone feel better and not left a festering abscess of mistrust poison the company.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t think anyone should be contorting themselves to tell her she’s definitely wrong either — my point is that we really don’t know, and that’s what we should be conveying to the OP.

            3. Anon Accountant*

              Exactly. Sometimes a very small raise means that positions weren’t cut to free up funds for larger raises for more senior employees. There’s only 1 piece of the puzzle in the letter.

            4. One of the Sarahs*

              Or as happened to a friend, they had a fantastic year, he had great feedback…. but no raises as they were putting in a major IT upgrade. He was so pissed off, as they’d said “no mid-year bonuses, but you’ll get a raise”, and while the IT is useful, it didn’t help him as his rent/utilities were increasing… So, job hunting ahoy!

            5. TootsNYC*

              And all of these are things that a manager could probably find a way to use to frame that teeny, tiny amount of money.

              It’s so small–to have it framed as, “this is such a compliment!” is really not wise. I’d be pretty unhappy too.

              I don’t think fast on my feet, so I wouldn’t have realized exactly how little money it meant. But once I got home and did the math, I’d be angry as well. I’d be *thinking* “do you think I’m stupid?”

              But it’s never, ever wise to let those sentiments out into real time.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I would have asked what the norm is and simply said, “I am new here and I have no reference points.” Matter of fact, I have done this. My answer was an explanation of how things worked. When the boss was done, I said thank you for explaining that. Which, happily. side-stepped me thanking him for the tiny raise.
                If the raises got better in years to come, the manager could have mentioned that.

        1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

          In the letter, the OP says the company is claiming it had their best year to date.

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            Best year ever does not always mean big raises for everyone. Maybe they did have their best year in terms of sales, but their profitability is down or maybe the competitive landscape is changing.

            1. Mike C.*

              Then this is a great time to educate employees on the big picture and show where improvement needs to take place. If an employer isn’t forthcoming with this sort of information, it comes across as little more than an excuse. If it’s on the radar and regular updates occur then it becomes much more reasonable.

              Additionally, if employees are aware of issues that need improvement in response to changing issues then they can be empowered to fix/improve them at their level.

              1. TootsNYC*

                yep. It’s the framing of it that’s the problem.

                “I got you a great raise!” is a lousy frame for 0.5%

                “It’s a tough year, nobody’s getting raises, but I wanted to make SOME sort of gesture because I appreciate all that you do. it’s not much, I know–more the equivalent of “have a beer on me.” But I do sincerely appreciate you.”

          2. KH*

            “Best year to date” doesn’t mean record profits.

            Maybe “best year to date” means “we actually made a profit this year” or “we were able to cut costs significantly” or “we made an extra $100,000” or “we finally paid off our IRS debt”.

          3. Rat in the Sugar*

            Yeah, but “best year ever” could actually mean that they were operating at a loss for previous years, and this year were like, $3 in the black for the very first time and therefore the first time they were able to give raises at all. Of course, it would have helped if the manager actually gave context in that case.

          4. Creag an Tuire*

            “the company is claiming”

            How often does a company -not- claim it’s had its best year to date?

            “Man, 2015 was -bullshit-. Another year like the last one, and we’ll all be polishing our resumes.”

            1. Mike C.*

              Well maybe I’m just speaking from the perspective of a publicly traded company, but they can’t really lie about deliveries, orders, profits and revenue. They may emphasize certain achievements over others, but they can’t just make things up without incurring a whole lot of liability.

              1. Creag an Tuire*

                True, but I didn’t get the impression that OP had carefully reviewed the company’s 10-K — just the company’s public-facing statement, which I’d expect to always be positive unless the company’s straits are so dire that they’re already on the financial media’s deathwatch (hello, Sears, my old friend), in which case it will be “mumble mumble difficult period of restructuring mumble changing market mumble”.

            2. Anonymous Educator*

              I think it really depends on the company. I used to work for a privately owned firm once. It obviously never publicized losses or less-profitable years to its clients, but internally the managers saw no need to lie to us. In fact, they viewed transparency about the profits (or losses) of the company to be a motivating factor for employees, since most employees earned on commission (so losses meant no bonuses and more need to hustle, and more profits meant bigger bonuses).

            3. Helka*

              To its internal employees? My company is not great in a lot of areas, but it still at least has been honest with us when things are tough. “Look, 201X was a hard year because of Thing, if we do raises at all this year they’re probably going to be pretty small, just to give you a heads-up.” That was an actual conversation my boss had with my department, and it was a good framing for raises that mostly ran between 1-1.5%

      5. Elsajeni*

        I agree. It feels to me like the raise equivalent of leaving a penny as a tip — sure, every penny counts and I’ll try to think positively about it as I drop it into my change jar, but it feels somehow more insulting than receiving nothing at all. (Even more so if you’re telling me as you hand it over that this penny is a fantastic tip, the highest tip you’ve ever left.)

        I appreciate the possibility that this is a weird situation, like, this was her 3-month review and no one ever gets a raise that early. But if that’s the case, I think it’s on the manager to explain “I know this is a small amount, but here’s why it’s exceptional in context,” not just drop it on you and tell you it’s great.

      6. BananaPants*

        It depends on the organization. Where I work, the performance review process is almost entirely decoupled from the merit increase that one receives. It’s not good management practice, but it’s the way it is. One’s annual increase is based on how hard your boss is willing to fight with other managers to get money for you, and even then it can be changed at the discretion of senior management. Over 9o% of our employees get a meets or exceeds expectations rating and yet most of those people will still get around the average annual merit increase (which in some years has been zero!).

        Also, the company may have policies about when new hires can get a raise. Here, you don’t get one until you’ve been here for at least one full merit cycle. If that’s the case it should be explained, but we don’t know how long OP has been with the firm or what their policies are.

      7. LBK*

        I’m totally with you, Mike. Even if .5% is a relatively great increase for the OP’s role/tenure, the company’s situation/culture, etc. I think it’s wildly tone deaf to not understand the optics of giving such a tiny percent. Unless the OP is making millions and therefore .5% might actually represent a sizable chunk of money, it’s barely even a real increase (not that $10 or $20 a month couldn’t be a meaningful amount for some people living paycheck-to-paycheck, but for most it’s not going to make any difference to their financial situation).

        If for whatever reason this is really meant to be more of a symbolic raise than one that truly rewards the OP for the value she’s bringing to the company, I think the manager needed to make that a lot clear and play image defense up front, particularly if the OP is new and doesn’t have precedent for the culture around raises. Just saying something like “I know this looks like a small amount but we’re rarely able to give out raises and when we do they’re usually even less than this” could’ve prevented this whole issue.

      8. Elliot*

        It really depends on the industry. In the field I work in (nonprofit geriatric care) raises have been stagnant for so long that minimum wage has caught up with some very educated, experienced workers’ wages, and it’s like that in every facility around here. Even a 10 cent per hour raise is rare, and for a newly employed first job college graduate, any raise at all would be absolutely unheard of, and for even $100/year raise for an employee like this, a manager would need to jump through a lot of hoops. This line of work isn’t a money thing, it’s a love thing. If OP works in nonprofit, the way they reacted could very well have them on their way out.

          1. Dan*

            Absolutely. If my wages stagnate (happened to me for two straight years), I either suck it up, or go find someone that pays me inline with what my skills are worth. Getting laid off from that job was the best thing that ever happened to me — I found work that paid much better.

            1. esra*

              I don’t see why we should be happy with that. I’m a firm believer that minimum wage should be a living wage.

              1. Dan*

                What does minimum wage have to do with this discussion?

                FWIW, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a minimum wage that is a living wage. Sure, you can calculate what that wage would be tomorrow, but then once the economy reacts to it, that wage no longer has the buying it power it used to. So you’ve got this cycle that more or less never ends.

                And I think “living wage” needs to be carefully defined. To support how many people? On what quality of life? Does it vary based on locale?

                1. esra*

                  We’re talking about raises and cost of living, to me the minimum wage plays into that.

                  As far as living wage, I’m talking about enough money to pay rent, heat/hydro, phone + eat. In Ontario, working full-time earning the minimum wage still leaves you below the poverty line. That is absurd.

                  As to your point about things increasing in cost once people have more money… isn’t that kind of the point? People make more, then spend more, businesses do better, pay people more?

                  There is plenty of money to go around, especially if those at the top don’t make like… 1000% of what those at the bottom are.

                2. Dan*

                  In the US, “cost of living adjustments” are generally associated with the CPI. Although, I’ve never worked for a company that hands out blanket COLA raises.

                  I live in a major US city. What kind of accommodation are we talking about? Renting a room from someone, roommates in a two-bedroom apartment? Having your own studio/efficiency or one bedroom apartment? How close to the city center? Is car ownership included, or is the bus/public transportation sufficient?

                  I’ve worked at several low-wage jobs, but I’ve never worked at minimum wage jobs.

                  At the end of the day, the proverbial question is, what kind of lifestyle should a job at McDonalds provide?

                  That cycle of “more money” that you describe also has the potential to create out of control inflation, which is not good under any economic model. Businesses pay people based on what it takes to attract talent and retain them with reasonable turnover. If my pay doubles but then so do all of my costs, TBH, I don’t really care. I want pay that outpaces inflation.

                3. Helka*

                  Living wage is defined as an income that, with two people earning it, can support a family of four — ie, two wage-earners and two non-earners with no unusual expenses.

                  Minimum wage, when instituted, was designed to provide for a family with one earner.

                  And in addition, the cycle you’re noting has generally not happened the way people claim it will, because the money flows back as well — more wages to employees means more people with more spending power, thus more earning for businesses.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            That is true, but there are also jobs that do not hold their market value over time. Or jobs where a faulty performance reward system/human error leaves you with overpaid employees (because it’s REALLY hard to take the raise back). I’ve dealt with both, and neither are fun. I don’t love telling people they’re not getting an increase, but I think I’d love laying them off even less.

        1. Helka*

          The point of a COLA is not that it’s an increase in pay; the point is that it’s keeping the employee level in terms of purchasing power.

        2. Creag an Tuire*

          I disagree, at least for as long as inflation is a thing. Otherwise, you’re basically saying that some jobs should have steadily -decreasing- pay.

          1. Dan*

            That’s exactly what I’m saying. What generally happens though is that some jobs disappear altogether, sometimes they get off shored (like some IT and call center work), sometimes they disappear (printing press operator, switchboard operator), etc. Some people get laid off.

            1. TootsNYC*

              yep–some industries dwindle–and with it, the jobs and wages.

              Buggy whip manufacturers, perhaps?

          2. CAA*

            Actually, inflation is not a thing right now. The ytd measures for 2015 (Dec is not avail yet) show inflation at 0% for the year. Social Security is also not doing a COLA for 2016.

            1. Helka*

              Inflation isn’t the only measure of cost-of-living. My landlord still bumped my rent up by $25/mo, for example.

              1. esra*

                Exactly. I’m still paying more for rent, food, phone, and internet. So yes, the cost of me living this year has increased over last.

              2. TowerofJoy*

                Right – and just because it doesn’t go up for the entirety of the US doesn’t mean the cost of living doesn’t go up in certain regions.

    5. Ad Astra*

      After five years in the professional world, I have never once received a raise, nor have I ever witnessed a coworker receiving a raise without a promotion — though most of my experience is in newspapers, where pay is generally crappy and the money situation is all messed up. I say this not as a “people have it worse” thing, but to show that significant annual raises are simply not the norm in most businesses. In order to get a meaningful raise (one that would potentially improve someone’s standard of living), most people need to move to a new job, often with a new company.

      No, a .5% raise likely isn’t a significant amount of money, but OP was wrong to interpret this gesture as an insult. It’s far more likely that this company just gives crummy raises, and OP may not have enough professional experience to realize that’s what’s going on.

      1. Angela*

        On the flip side, I’ve never worked somewhere that a 2-5% raise annually wasn’t standard. Now, that’s not going to be making any great change to my standards of living, as 5% of practically nothing is still practically nothing, but 0.5% send crazy low to me for a corporate setting.

      2. Mike B.*

        No offense meant, but I would not base my expectations on the salary history of someone in the newspaper industry. Most industries are not faced with the existential threat that hangs over yours, and can’t credibly plead poverty to evade the demands of underpaid employees.

        1. Ad Astra*

          That’s a reasonable point. Before I started reading AAM regularly, I didn’t realize that so many people were getting raises every year. (When I briefly worked in banking, the raises were something like 2-3% a year; I just wasn’t there long enough to earn one.) But it’s still not unheard of to go a year without a raise, or to get a crummy, borderline-insulting raise in other industries. That may be something OP genuinely didn’t know. Either way, these differing data points are useful, I think.

          1. katamia*

            Oh, definitely. I didn’t know so many people still got regular raises or even decent benefits until I started reading AAM, either. I don’t get them. My friends don’t get them. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to get regular raises. Before AAM, I thought that sort of thing basically went out with the recession unless you get a government job, and even then your pay could get frozen or something so you could still go years without a raise.

            And I’ve never worked in journalism, so it’s not just newspapers that don’t do it, either.

        2. Macedon*

          Honestly depends on the paper /wire. I’ve gotten raises in every journo role I’ve had, and I’ve done everything from print to digital, national and niche. Some raises were hilariously bad, but they were there. The myth of the starving (journ)artist – okay that didn’t work as well as planned – needs to be publicly debunked, because it’s how many titles out there use to justify outrageously low pay ranges for starting reporters.

          1. Ad Astra*

            I was dangerously close to being a starving journalist, but my excessive student loan debt was a major factor in that. There’s no doubt that some news orgs pay better than others, but far too many of them get away with paying absurdly low wages for extremely demanding jobs (often combining multiple positions into one). I see it a lot more in traditional media, and far more often in community news rather than national outlets. In the communities where I worked, entry-level journalists made about $10k less than what entry-level public school teachers made in that area. Obviously journalists don’t get into it for the money, but… damn.

  6. Fleur*

    Yeah, being left out of emails, meetings, etc is a huge red flag that you’re about to get fired. By all means use Allison’s script to apologize, but I would start job searching even if I’m otherwise happy with the job, because I don’t think it’s about OP wanting to stay anymore. It’s now in the manager’s hands whether they want to keep OP.

    1. Mimi*

      Unfortunately, I agree. This incident supposedly happened last month, and their relationship hasn’t improved despite OP apologizing “several times”. Even if OP’s manager doesn’t fire OP, I think there’s very little chance of coming back from this.

      1. myswtghst*

        I do have to say, I kind of wonder what kind of “apologies” the OP has given. Someone who says what the OP said to their boss doesn’t strike me as someone above a fauxpology which still places the blunt of the blame on the boss (e.g. “I’m sorry you were offended by what I said…”).

  7. Folklorist*

    Ooooft. I just cringed so hard for you.
    It does sound like you’re still trying to justify your reaction, and you need to stop looking at it that way and try to move forward. I know it’s hard, but this was really bad. I haven’t gotten a raise in my (underpaid) job, and I’m much further in my career. But I stay because my company has been good to me in other ways, the job is interesting, and my boss is fantastic. There’s no justifying that reaction to someone who is advocating for you! Take it as a good lesson in learning to gauge your reactions moving forward, and please follow AAM’s script!

  8. SouthernBelle*

    Given that this is your first performance review (so you’ve been there around a year or so?) in your first job out of college (so something that’s fairly entry-level?), what kind of raise did you expect to receive? At first read, it seems as though you feel entitled to something that’s unrealistic for your circumstance or environment. Also, if you took this job to “get your foot in the door”, then expect that there’s probably some serious dues-paying that has to occur before you start to reap the benefits that you’re seeking.

    If I were you, I’d start a job search…

    1. Velociraptor Attack*

      I also picked up on it being the first performance review for the OP’s first job out of college. I also wonder if this is a 6 month review. Most of the places I’ve worked have had a 6 month review for a new hire. If this happened in a 6 month review, as a manager, it would throw a lot of red flags for me.

      It’s difficult to tell the exact situation and the manager definitely did not handle this well but I would have serious concerns about the OP.

      1. Jinx*

        I’m a college hire 1.5 years in, and we have 6 month reviews instead of 12 month reviews. Our raises are fixed percentages for the first three years that our managers either go ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to – so you’re doing good or bad. In order to go higher than the official college hire range, the manager has to jump through a lot of hoops and get it approved a couple of levels up.

        The thing is, this was clearly explained to us in the new hire paperwork and orientation. I went into my first review knowing “If I did good, I get x% and if I did bad, I get nothing”. If OP’s reviews are different during a certain period because of being a college hire, maybe the new hire process could do a better job of explaining that.

        1. Mike B.*

          Or the manager could have put the figure in context in the review itself.

          As I loop back again and again on the events the OP describes, I find myself struck more than anything by how the manager didn’t seem to think he needed to say something along the lines of “I honestly wish this could be more, because you’re great, but unfortunately _________.” They both knew that OP doesn’t make all that much to begin with, and that he was presenting a raise that amounted to a few extra dollars on each paycheck.

          OP was way out of line with what she said in response, but there’s an aptness to the words she chose. It does sound to me like he was trying to put one over on her.

          1. LBK*

            I don’t know if he was intentionally trying to dupe her, but I absolutely agree that there needed to be better communication about what that raise represented if he wanted the OP to be excited about. My bet’s on him knowing from his perspective what he had to do/what it means to him to give out a raise of that size and is totally clueless about how it came off from the OP’s perspective without the kind of info he has.

          2. Jinx*

            Yes, if there was context it should have been provided. I can think of several reasons the boss presented it that way – she could be sincere, or just clueless as to the typical raise for OP’s situation, or really trying to screw her. We don’t really know from the letter. I see mistakes on both sides – the manager’s communication style during the meeting (and subsequent behavior) was problematic, and the OP’s response was out of line.

          3. Kat*

            See, I think that we just don’t know enough to say the manager needed to explain. Perhaps raises of this size are completely common with the company/industry and its general knowledge. It could be an industry particularly hard hit by recession. This could be normal, and the only thing out of the ordinary could be OP’s expectations.

            Like everyone said, we need more context to know if an explanation was warranted, or if this is so normal that it would be uncommon for the OP to think this was bad. What we do know is that the OP’s reaction was wildly unprofessional. OP, if I were you, and my boss refused to manage me and impacted my ability to do my job, i’d see the writing on the wall and start job seeking.

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, I thought the “foot in the door” comment was off too. If you decide to be an underpaid legal secretary at Prestigious Law Firm until you can prove yourself and move up to paralegal, expect to be underpaid unless and until you move up, even if you’re the best darn legal secretary out there. No one has the pay structure of “Pay this role crap for the first calendar year so we get only desperate candidates, and then jack it way up to reward them for sticking it out.”

        1. HRescapee*

          That pay model is standard issue in entry level consulting. If you haven’t flamed out spectacularly in the first year you are summarily promoted from an associate salary (30%+ raise) and the burnout rate is so high that raises are often 15% a year or more after that. However, you sell your soul to get that.

      1. Green*

        Side note here, but legal secretaries don’t often move up to paralegal in large Prestigious Law Firm.

      2. Paralegal Manager*

        1) BigLaw firms don’t recruit or sometimes even accept paralegals from the secretarial/admin pool

        2) Most BigLaw legal secretaries that survived the mass layoffs get paid way, way more than entry-level paralegals

        3) Legal secretarial work is on the way out and is not a field I’d recommend someone go into. Most firms are doing pooled resources, administrative centers (some located in remote places for lower wages), and require less admin support for newer attorneys.

        4) I can replace an entry-level BigLaw paralegal in no time. The pay bump comes after year 2 because that’s when they’re well-trained and also when most of them leave to go to law school. The glut of unemployed/underemployed JDs also means a lot of senior paralegal positions are being replaced by staff attorneys.

    3. JessaB*

      I also think there’s another prong in there where the OP mentions taking something lower than they thought they should where possibly the inference was that once they showed they were good enough they’d get a more market rate, so they were expecting more money. This is not how the world works. Especially if this was not explicitly discussed during hiring. The OP negotiated a number, the employer thinks the OP is happy with a number and whoops they’re not. The OP does say they took a below average starting salary. They do NOT say that they specifically discussed this fact with the hiring manager. There’s a serious disconnect here. The OP expected this first review to bring their salary in range of the market rate they did not negotiate when they were hired and this could be a pretty big gap in numbers.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Yes, and especially in an industry where people really want to work there, it doesn’t work like that, eg museums and galleries in the UK could, if they wanted, offer minimum wage to curators because so many people want these jobs, and entry-level library and arts jobs are often low paid too – and I believe parts of entry-level publishing are the same. There are more people who want the jobs, and are qualified for them, than there are jobs, so sucks to be someone without a private income/wealthy partner/with debts etc who wants to work in the field. I can completely see how someone might take a gamble and take a low wage to get into these industries, and hope to get promotion to a higher level, but the idea of “work well and your salary will go up automatically” just isn’t true in a lot of industries.

  9. IT_Guy*

    Sometimes managers are not in control of the raises that they give out. A lot of times there are other factors involved, such as overall company financial health and group performance. In the company that I work for the managers can recommend the bonus, but the director is the one that approves/changes them. Some government contractors and other professions will never ever see a raise.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Or only have a little leeway. At the company I work for, there’s a range mangers are allowed to approve, based on overall budget, salary band and your performance rating in your review. So my manager may well think I deserve a 5% raise, but if she only has 2.5% to work with, that’s what I’m getting.

      In the OP’s company, having a great year may very well not translate to “passing those profits on to employees,” especially at the entry level. It sucks, yes, but it’s true.

      OP, I think you can see this as a learning opportunity and definitely change how you approach reviews in the future…

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        “It sucks, yes, but it’s true.”

        If you work for a sucky compnay, it’s usually a good idea to look around for an employer that doesn’t suck.

        1. Green*

          Hold up though. My company is stingy with the raises, but we’re generally very well compensated and have great benefits. I wouldn’t assume that departmental caps on total raise amounts automatically equals = sucky company. High profits may not mean that the particular department or division is performing well, and there are valid reasons not to distribute profits to employees.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I didn’t say the company was sucky, someone else did — I said it sucks not to feel like you’re getting compensated for the company’s success. Which is also not the same as departmental caps on raises.

      2. Who watches the watchers?*

        Right. Everywhere I’ve worked the managers were told you have X amount to use and that’s that.

    2. Mike C.*

      That’s fine, but they should be straight forward and honest about it, insult one’s intelligence and pretend it’s something that it’s not.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        If the boss has been at this company for a long time, though, she might be calibrated to this company rather than the wider norm. She may be only seeing the 0.5% raise in the context of a company that gives really small raises, especially for entry level positions, without realizing that that context isn’t universal.

        1. TootsNYC*

          The manager may also not have done the math and may not really have realized how little cash that works out to be.

      2. IT_Guy*

        Sometimes they are not allowed to. I don’t like it, but it happens. I usually don’t expect much from raises, and I’m seldom disappointed! I’ve usually gotten my good pay raises by switching to a new company.

    3. wellywell*

      If that’s the case then the boss should have acknowledged that it was a very VERY small raise and not acted as if it was a wonderful thing that the OP should be so grateful for. I am not defending the OP’s reaction but that IS an insulting raise esp. if performance was excellent.

  10. Charityb*

    I think it’s a good idea to have a private meeting with your boss. I’m not 100% sure if it’s really possible to salvage a relationship like this, but the best way to approach this would be a private 1-on-1 (which the manager really shouldn’t be cancelling). I got the impression that they have basically avoided each other and haven’t had more than a, “Sorry about that,” “Whatever,” dialogue about this and that’s guaranteed to make sure that the situation festers. That’s not really sustainable though and the OP needs to take a lead in stopping it.

  11. BRR*

    I’d be very concerned your boss cancelled your one on ones. You might want to start looking around.

    You obviously know this was not your best moment so no need to pile on. It sounds like a) you’re unhappy with your starting salary and b) you were hoping this raise would bring it more in line with market rates.

    So A) You have to accept that when you take a low salary for whatever reason (liking the position, needing a job, etc) this will be your salary. You might feel forced to accept it but from the employer’s perspective, you’re accepting a salary to do certain duties. I get how it might be unfair to you but you also accepted the position and it’s not fair to then be pissed about what you accepted.

    B) Raises vary. A LOT of people have received 0 raises since ~2008. So .5% might be super large for your employer. Were their guide lines sent out before hand? My last employer sent out different scores and the corresponding ranges for each score. .5% might have been your score’s range. Asking for clarification and pointing out your high score might have been the way to go. But there’s also a chance that a low paying company doesn’t give out large raises.

    1. The IT Manager*

      +1. The LW sounds very upset about multiple things some of which happened when she was hired. I agree that being upset that the starting salary she accepted was low is a problem as is expecting this first raise to bring her more in line with market rates. You should not expect raises to bring your salary in line with market rated because that rarely happens; not impossible but it a rare unicorn of a thing for a company the correct their salaries to align to market rates.

      Yes, .5% is a low raise.

      Yes, your response was terrible and adversarial and frankly you still sound incredibly adversarial blaming your boss’s response on being upset that he failed to pull one over on you.

      Start job hunting because :
      – there may be no way to salvage your relationship with your boss (and while you think so negatively of her it’s unlikely to be salvageable)
      – you’re very unhappy with your pay. Fact of working life: people rarely get big pay raises without moving to another company or at least another position

  12. hbc*

    I’m less worried about the actual percentage than the fact that he expected you to be blown away by such a small number. Maybe they rely on promotions to get people higher salaries and you have to go to the mat for any performance increase, but still, you don’t expect someone who makes $30K (as an example) to be over the moon about $150 before taxes.

    But, to be an annoying stickler, you should be glad they didn’t adjust for inflation. The most common calculation showed *deflation* due to falling gas prices during 2015.

    1. Helka*

      Yeah, agreed. I mean, obviously the OP was out of line no matter what, but I’d be pretty concerned if I took a job at a lower starting wage and then found out they also considered 0.5% to be extremely generous and the highest ever given out.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        If it’s her first job out of college, assuming she graduated in May, this might have been a 6-month review. In that case, a big raise isn’t that common.

        1. Helka*

          That’s possible, but I would have expected the boss to be clear on that point. My company adjusted our review cycles a few years ago and for folks whose review was shifted more than one pay period, both HR in advance and managers in the performance reviews were very explicit about how the shortened or lengthened review cycle impacted raise percentages.

          It’s not hard to say “Because you’ve only been working X months, your raise is going to be 0.5% as a pro-rated amount; if this were your one-year review you’d be seeing higher.”

        2. Spondee*

          That was my thought as well. I have a new grad who will be getting at most 0.75% because she started in August, and if she had started one day later, she wouldn’t be eligible for any increase.

        3. LBK*

          But that doesn’t align with the way the manager described it – it wasn’t “biggest 6-month raise ever” or “great for where you’re at right now,” it was “biggest raise I’ve ever given”, full stop. I don’t see any other way to interpret that beyond the manager implying that the OP should be impressed and grateful for it.

          1. Shiara*

            Actually the letter says ” this is the best raise he’s ever given to someone “at my level.” ” which I think could very easily be interpreted as “biggest 6-month raise ever” or “great for where you’re at right now”

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I was told years and years ago, whatever you get for a raise say thank you. If you really do not like the raise, then quietly start you job search. This is because it is safe to assume the boss has done the best he can, no point to having an elaborate discussion over it as probably nothing will change. Better to leave with your dignity than without it.

      2. Observer*

        The boss didn’t say that it was the highest ever paid out but that he had given AT THAT LEVEL. Which means we don’t even know what raises look like at other levels. And there is also no evidence that the boss expected OP to be over the moon. But “do you think I’m stupid” is SO adversarial that it does bring to mind the idea of gratitude.

    2. Christy*

      I mean, my boss was really pleased and proud that he ranked me 4/5 overall, when I’d been getting 5/5 regularly in my old position and 4/5 leaves you bonus-ineligible. But it turns out that 95% of the time, new hires get 3/5 because they don’t have any reason to be ranked above the “meets expectations”. So even though I was a little bummed I didn’t get the 5/5, I was pleased as punch at the 4/5. As crummy as it is, 0.5% really could have been a great raise. Who was to say you were getting a raise at all?

      1. ThatGirl*

        At my current workplace, our rankings are out of 4, and it’s basically impossible to get a 4/4. I got a 3.6 last year and my manager told me that if she gave anyone all 4s, it would red flag it on our system.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Yes. Sounds like a company that always wants an excuse to be able to fire people or pay them poorly.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yep, and it often goes hand in hand with stack ranking.

              If no one ever gets a 4, no matter how awesome they are, it’s really a 3 point scale with added lying.

              1. neverjaunty*

                That’s exactly what I was thinking. A friend who used to be a manager at a very large tech company was instructed to do things like never give too many 4 and 5s, do not point out positive things (only neutral or negative ones) in the narrative portion of the review, etc. And of course they had stack ranking, because nothing says good management like relying on outdated advice from modern-day robber barons.

              2. Mike B.*

                My company switched from a 5-point scale to a 3-point scale a few years ago, in part because of the uselessness of the top and bottom tiers (the 5’s were like unicorns, and the 1’s were fired long before they ever reached their first review).

              3. BananaPants*

                Oh, how I loathe stack ranking. Our performance reviews are not based on it but our annual merit increase is. It devolves into something resembling a managerial cage match, from what I’ve heard.

            2. ThatGirl*

              I think it’s just a quirk of company culture – it may be possible to get a 4/4 if you’re The Most Amazing Employee Ever. But seriously, I’m decently well paid and people generally don’t get fired for no reason.

              1. TootsNYC*

                Alexander Hamilton would get a 4/4. No, wait, probably not, because he *could* be a little impatient with people who were not as quick on the uptake as he was.

          2. ThatGirl*

            Huh. I’ve never seen anything unethical – I work for a big Fortune 500 company with a long history and good reputation. I’ve had it explained to me as basically, nobody’s perfect. You can still get the max raise as long as you’re closer to Exceeds Expectations than Meets.

              1. Elsajeni*

                It sounds like in ThatGirl’s company you can be rated “perfect” on some metrics, just not on all of them (at least not without raising red flags in the system — I’m not clear on whether that would have been completely disallowed or just caused a fuss and required a lot of justification). That seems pretty reasonable to me; of course a Teapot Spout Specialist might perform perfectly at spout molding, but it’s less likely that they’re perfect at spout molding and spout attachment and spout decoration and communication skills.

          3. Mallory Janis Ian*

            A few years ago, the university system board in our state (not just the board of our campus) put out a memo to HR that basically said that 90% of employees getting a 5/5 rating seemed a bit high to them, and that they should encouraging supervisors to be more critical in appraising performance. I don’t know whether a specific dictate was made to regulate the number of high ratings that could be given, but all evaluations were scrutinized much more closely by the dean’s offices of each college before they could be sent to HR.

        1. Charityb*

          I think that’s one of the big differences between school and the working world. In school, if you do everything you’re supposed to you get an “A”. In work, if you do everything you’re supposed to do, you get a “C” (aka “Meets Expectations”). It can be jarring to bust your butt for months only to get a, “meets expectations”-type of result though, especially if this is your first job and “meets expectations” is a sign of mediocrity or even failure rather than competence.

          I can’t speak to the actual size of the raise or whether it’s really good enough. My thinking is that if you don’t like your salary/raises you can either advocate for more or find another/better job. It’s clear that the OP isn’t really happy with the compensation structure (since it’s below-average for their industry) so it might be worth moving on.

          1. Shannon*

            “In school, if you do everything you’re supposed to you get an “A””

            Must be nice to go to those schools. My school, an A is exceeds expectations, B is above expectations and a C is meets expectations.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              My French professor was telling our class that grades were more like that in France than they are in the typical U.S. grading system. She said that, according to colloquial speech, the next-to-the top grade is ‘for the angels’ and the top grade is ‘only for god’.

              1. Marcela*

                Ugh. Exactly for that, DH and I are always in disadvantage when applying to places where our grades are compared to Americans’. Our schools and universities, grade from 1 to 7. But you have to be superhuman to get a 6. When we “translated” our grades for the Spanish system, for example, that goes between 1 and 4, we only got around 2.7. And the lower they accept for scholarships is 3. Recently DH was asked for his undergraduate grades and when he convert them he got a B. And he is the best student our department got, even going to one of the top Ivy League institutions… There are some crazy thoughts behind this behavior of ending the scale in a mythological space.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Yeah, if 6 is ‘for the angels’ and 7 is ‘only for god’, then a 5 is the highest attainable mark. But you’re competing against others whose respective systems allowed them the 6 or the 7.

              2. NetGovGirl*

                I have just gone back to study for a degree and was a little disappointed with 72% on my first assignment, until I was told getting over 70% was really high and pretty much no one gets over 80% at this level. Wish someone had explained this earlier!

          2. Velociraptor Attack*

            I’ve been very tough as a manager when it comes to performance reviews. On a 5 point scale, a 3 is meeting expectations, you’re doing your job, as it is outlined and you’re doing everything correctly. 4’s are not common and 5’s are like unicorns. I’ve had new hires that are heartbroken when they get a 3 because they don’t actually see it as being acknowledgement of the fact that they’re doing solid work.

            1. neverjaunty*

              That’s because many companies are so in love with the idea of “excellence” that they see a 3 as a failure.

            2. Helka*

              I’ve always found that scale very difficult to work with. If you’re telling me you basically never give out 5s, or that they only happen when all the stars align and a once-a-century situation erupts where an employee has the chance to save the world, then as far as I’m concerned it’s not a 5-point scale.

              1. Beezus*

                It’s really not. My company handles things the same way – 5’s are unicorns and 1’s are bridge trolls. You might see a 1 on a review for someone in the firing process who didn’t quite get fired before their review had to be done. You might see a 5 for someone who was well past ripe for a promotion and performing way above level, who isn’t interested in advancement. We mortals are graded in the 2-4 range, and a 3 is fine.

                1. Helka*

                  Then that’s a 3-point scale with exceptions for unusual circumstances. I don’t see the point of claiming a 5-point scale if a 5 is, in practical terms, not achievable.

              2. Velociraptor Attack*

                On any point system your lowest and highest numbers are going to be used less because that is the very nature of a point system. It’s a parabola and your middle numbers are most used. For me, using a 5 point system is preferable because there are still 3 numbers the bulk of employees will be in and you can clearly see where you’re at.

                Sure, I can use a 3 point scale. Nearly everyone gets a 2 because your 1’s will still be on their way out and your 3’s are the best and brightest so you have no room to space out everyone else.

            3. TowerofJoy*

              I had a boss once who gave 3s. I understood that it was an acknowledgement in his opinion that I was doing solid work, but our big boss gave 5s for solid work. I looked like a failure when I was working just as hard as everyone else.

              The problem with those scales is everyone in the company has to be judging and scaling the same way, and they rarely are.

              1. Schnapps*

                We have a 4 point scale.

                There was one year when one of the components I was to rate myself (and my manager was to rate me) on was simply: “Accuracy”.

                I asked how they were measuring it, pointing out that if it’s not measurable, it’s not that relevant. They told me I had to put something down for it. I put down a 3, my manager put down a 2, in the review I shrugged and said, “Ok. Whatever.” When my manager asked me what I was going to do to improve, I told her that a 3 is just as meaningful as a 2 since there’s no way to measure it.

                They got more detailed the following year :) And started sticking to our job descriptions :)

                1. TradeMark*

                  We do the self evaluation thing as well, and I figured out pretty quickly that my boss would just take 1 away from whatever I gave myself. So in the first year I did the whole “better give myself 3’s on everything so it didn’t look too immodest’ – to which he gave me two’s on everything. So the next year I just gave myself 5/5 so that I would get 4/5 from him (worked!). Since I can only give myself 5/5 guess I’m stuck at 4/5! ( There’s a system that seems really beneficial for everyone!)

                  He also informed me as soon as we sat down to do it that this would not be used for salary increases (insert eyeroll – if we’re not getting raises for our performance, how do you get one?) When I asked him what would be then (politely, but after three years and no raise I was starting to get a bit peeved), he said he didn’t know. That was definitely a you must think I’m stupid moment for me (though I didn’t say anything!) With bosses around like that, if hers is anything like mine, tbh I don’t blame the OP for feeling a bit upset! While she could have done it better, I wish I could stand up for myself a bit better in these cases…

            4. Perse's Mom*

              Our department manager stresses that point around review season – 3 means you’re doing your job, you’re meeting your goals, you’re doing what you’re supposed to. 3 is GOOD.

          3. BlackEyedPea*

            Your first paragraph isn’t true. Plenty of classes are graded on a curve and can result in a person doing everything great, and still not receiving an ‘A’ because someone’s else’s great was just a bit better.

            1. Ad Astra*

              I found it depended very much on the type of course. Introductory courses were a lot more likely to use a standard “Get this many answers right on this many assignments and you get an A” formula, which made sense when the purpose is to impart fairly basic knowledge that many or even most of the students will be capable of mastering. My journalism courses were more likely to use the “C meets expectations” model because there’s a notable difference between a passable reporter/editor/designer and an excellent reporter/editor/designer. But even those classes usually offered some participation-based assignments to pad your overall grade in the course because scholarship committees and graduate school admissions people don’t see a 3.0 GPA as “exceeds expectations.”

        2. Jozie*

          Yes, same with my office! Ours are out of 5, but apparently my coworker’s manager told her that she wanted to give her a 5/5 rating overall, but HR said the max allowed is 4/5 as a perfect score provides a disincentive for employees to improve(?) At least they’re pretty good with raises. Okay, holy moly I just realized my salary has increased by nearly 30% since I started at entry-level three years ago.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        If the company is doing well — and YOU’RE doing well – unless you’re grossly overpaid – 0.5% is an insult.

        There is no way to Pollyanna-ize it. It’s bad. “You’re a good worker, but gee whiz, too bad.”

        Now OP is pressed into finding something else. It will be interesting to see if, when OP gives notice, what the company does for a counter.

    3. TowerofJoy*

      This is what I was thinking – all other reasons and factors aside, if the boss is tooting a horn at .5% the boss is at least a little out of touch. Even if .5% is good for that company or department, they have to know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t much more than a token of appreciation. Which is nice, of course, but lets not overstate it.

  13. Temporarily Anon*

    While the OPs reaction wasn’t great, and she seems to realize that, I do want to stand up for her.

    Getting an insultingly low raise is one thing, but having your boss act like it is such a great increase is something else. Assuming the boss is telling the truth about this being the “best raise he’s ever given to someone ‘at my level,'” (what does ‘at my level’ even mean?!), they could have been more candid with the OP… “We have limits and this was the most management would go for,” blah blah.

    Quite frankly I would take it as an insult to my intelligence as well and am not sure that my response would be much different.

    OP – I would leave because it seems like your boss doesn’t respect you enough to have a real conversation about raises in the organization.

    1. BRR*

      I agree with how the boss should have approached it. Just because something is great at one company doesn’t mean it’s great overall. It reminds me of when a hotel I stayed at charged $15 a night for wifi and called it competitive. It was competitive in that all the hotels right around charged the same amount but $15 a night for slow wifi is by no means a great deal.

      Remember how things are in the big picture.

    2. lulu*

      Agreed. This is a terrible raise, unless the OP has been there less than a year. But the reaction was really unprofessional, you cannot say everything that pops in your mind at work, let alone to your boss. Live and learn (and job search).

    3. MK*

      While I appreciate you want to stand up for the OP, and I agree there is not pointing in piling up the “oh, this is bad”, it’s not a given that this was an insultingly small raise, exactly because we don’t know what “at my level” means. The OP is a fresh graduate on her first job; if she has only been working for the company for, say, 8 months and 3 months of that were training, it’s not an insultingly small raise. And the manager’s manner might be justified if there is a policy of not giving raises before 18 months of employment and he had to really campaign to get the OP this tiny raise. If the actual sum was very small, it was probably tonedeaf of him to present this as this hugely great thing, but no worse than that.

    4. Ad Astra*

      The “LOOK AT THIS INCREDIBLE RAISE” approach, combined with canceling the one-on-ones, makes me think this manager is less than awesome. A good manager would present the raise for what it is, and would take the time to talk to OP about her reaction and professionalism rather than apparently avoiding her. So, that kinda sucks.

      1. Jinx*

        True. At the very least, this manager isn’t communicating as well as she should be. If I was in OP’s situation, I’d be taking the avoidance as a pretty bad sign.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Yes. OP is almost certainly wrong that her manager is plotting against her, but this seems like a very bad combination of a crappy manager handling an inexperienced employee.

      3. Observer*

        Actually, there is no evidence that the boss told her it was incredible, in general. He did tell her that it’s highest he has given at her level. That’s a piece of context that she seems to think is a lie. And, it could be but that’s not necessarily the most likely explanation.

    5. Mimi*

      I’ll agree that OP’s manager didn’t seem to have communicated this well, but even so – of all the ways to respond, “Do you think I’m stupid?” is probably the worst.

    6. Sunshine*

      I have to agree. As everyone has said, no one is “owed” a raise. However, the boss’s manner of presenting the raise to the OP is what really alarms me and, I believe, lends credence to some of the assumptions made (IE: the boss possibly thinking that they could “pull one over on the OP”). For me, a .05% raise (after taxes) would not even be enough to buy a single movie ticket per month. Would I be grateful – sure, any little bit of extra is a nice gesture. However, to present that as something I should be overwhelming grateful for (saying this is the best raise given to this level) and proud of (the enthusiastic “Congratulations) strikes me as very off.

      If this is standard for the company or if there were other restrictions on the boss then it really was the boss’s responsibility to either mention those issues, or at the very least present the raise with some sort of awareness that this is not exactly the world’s most generous raise. Just to make it very clear – I’m not saying that the OP should necessarily be insulted by the tiny raise, but I do think the manner in which it was presented sounds pretty insulting to me.

      Honestly I would start job-searching if only for the fact that your boss sounds like at best an out-of-touch, poor communicator, and at worst some who is actively trying to take advantage of you.

    7. Nicole*

      Unfortunately some managers just don’t get it. I once switched departments 9 months into the year and asked my new manager if she’d like me to secure an exit review from my previous manager since annual reviews would be coming up soon, and she assured me it wouldn’t be necessary. She literally told me “don’t worry about it!” I then busted my butt in the new department making a lot of great changes and when annual review time came I got an average score of meets expectations. When I questioned this, I was told “I can’t give you above average scores; you’ve only been here three months!” (but I was with the company for over three years at that point). Ooooo I was so mad! But I remained professional.

      Cut to a few months later when changes in how we reported to corporate HR vs local HR revealed I was underpaid for my role, and I was given a $5000 increase. My manager brought me into her office and seemed very satisfied with herself, expecting me to thank her for the increase. But why would I? It had nothing to do with my performance. Again, I was professional, and told her I appreciate her letting me know about the increase. I did not, however, thank her personally for something she had nothing to do with. Needless to say I only lasted 15 months in that job until I left. I just couldn’t continue to work for someone who I did not respect.

      I’ve held other positions for far longer than that one but oh the stories I have about her! She was just so inept and out of touch. I once saw her years later at an event and had to walk by as quickly as possible because the way she treated me makes my blood boil even now thinking about it and it’s been well over a decade. On the plus side I really appreciate the last two bosses I’ve had because they are such a contrast to that woman.

  14. Juli G.*

    You know, I often am an advocate from the manager/company view more than others here but in this case, I think the manager is being quite unprofessional. This happened last month, presumably meaning before the December holidays (I’m making an assumption but I think it’s reasonable). Three weeks later, the manager shouldn’t be canceling meetings and ignoring email. He needs to determine how to move forward with you on this – or maybe not move forward with you.

    Your reaction was out of line and I think you’re unfairly thinking the worst of your boss without giving supporting evidence but that doesn’t give your manager the right to handle this inappropriately.

    Given his reaction, I think it may be in your best interest to find a new opportunity.

    1. neverjaunty*

      I agree – the OP knows their response was inappropriate, but the boss is essentially reacting with “well fine, I’m just not going to manage you anymore”.

    2. Mike C.*

      This bothers me as well. It’s clear that the outburst wasn’t appropriate but just ghosting your own employee? Come on.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The manager is self-defeating. OP is still his employee and he is still responsible for OP’s work.
        Additionally, how does he expect OP to have professional behavior when the boss cannot role model professional behavior himself??

    3. SuperAnon*

      I agree, and are employees only given 1 chance? No one has ever stuck their foot in their mouths and given a chance to redeem themselves? Firing her seems like a huge overreaction, and sounds likes he’s pissed because he has a bruised ego.

  15. Anon Accountant*

    I think you should start job searching. In the future take at least 24 hours to think about something like this before responding and communicating your disappointment. Taking some time can help you plan your script to use and accomplishments to refer to in similar discussions.

    If your company has layoffs or staff reductions your name may be at the top of your manager’s list. Learn from the experience and move forward at a new job.

  16. Katie the Fed*

    OP, I’m getting a strong #sorrynotsorry vibe from your letter. Like, you’re sorry about the outburst, but not the reason for it.

    I’m coming at this from the perspective of a boss who is exhausted right now – it’s HARD being a supervisor. You can’t even imagine how much people complain about stuff that’s not even in your control much of the time. You do your best to go to bat for them, to get them bonuses and raises, and they never realize it.

    An employee who responded the way you did though – that’s a whole other kettle of fish. It makes me really question your impulse control. If this is how you respond to good-but-disappointing news, how would you handle it when you get a big setback, like not getting a promotion you wanted, or something like that? Worse – how would you handle a difficult customer or client?

    I think the only way to repair this to to sincerely apologize for it all – not just the outburst, but the reaction in general.

    But I also think you should start looking for a new job because this relationship might be too hard to recover from.

    1. BRR*

      I’m getting that vibe too. Like they know what they did was wrong by society’s rules but don’t actually feel bad. They should keep in mind boss might be operating under strict rules for the raise (Katie I’m sure you can attest to that). That it was likely not personal.

    2. F.*

      Katie the Fed, I’m not directly a supervisor, but I understand your exhaustion. I go to bat for our employees every single day in many ways – most of which they do not know about. I only have so much energy for this. The boss may may very well have had to go to the mat to get any raise at all for the OP. If an employee reacted to me in the way the OP did to their manager, I would definitely not be nearly as willing to expend my limited energy managing/mentoring them. This makes the boss’s ghosting a little more understandable.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Thanks. I love it most of the time but sometimes I want to throttle them. There’s been a lot of complaining lately about stuff I have no control over, and I’m tired.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          Is it an option to say “I’m doing what I can to advocate for this department but can’t make some decisions unilaterally”?

          Years ago one of my bosses said “hey I’m doing what I can but please understand I can’t make all decisions unilaterally” when several other departments received great raises and accounting hadn’t. Those words really meant a lot to us and it helped cease a lot of complaints. We knew he was doing what he could and complaining wasn’t going to help speed things along.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          I didn’t necessarily get a “I want them to be grateful” vibe from this. I know as a supervisor, I view it as part of my job to go to bat for my employees and to keep certain things off of their plates. Are they aware of these things on a day to day basis? No, and I don’t expect them to be. However, I do understand the thought that an employee complaining about things and being outwardly rude and unprofessional (as, for example, there is no doubt that the OP was) is going to make someone little less willing to go all out and champion them.

          You don’t need to know everything I do for you behind the scenes to know that being unprofessional is not going to be your best play.

          1. neverjaunty*

            I think we all agree that being rude and unprofessional is pretty much never called for. But expecting employees to appreciate “management is hard” and “I do a lot of things you guys don’t even know about” forgets that the employees don’t know what’s going on over their heads, and aren’t managers. They’re less likely to complain when they understand their manager IS going to bat for them, and have a sense of their manager’s role in the company.

            1. Adam V*

              And I definitely have a different feeling towards my manager when they tell me “I recognize this is a small raise; I tried my hardest for you and for this team and this is all I was able to secure” versus “congratulations on your small raise!”. I’d be upset at the company either way, but my manager can do a lot to make me believe he’s on my side.

              Perhaps the manager has been there so long, and the company is so stingy, that 0.5% *is* a big raise to him?

              1. Adam V*

                …. aaaand I reread it, and Alison said that too.

                “The fact that your manager said that it’s the best raise he’s ever given to someone at your level is interesting data, although it may just mean that the company gives out really stingy raises — who knows.”

      2. PontoonPirate*

        But doesn’t a manager get paid more to manage? I’m sympathetic to the exhaustion that must go along with management sometimes, but we also know that subordinates can be equally exhausted (for different reasons).

        The OP’s outburst was out-of-control bad decision making, but the manager ghosting is an abdication of her duties.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Oh, I agree. I suspect he’s deciding whether or not to fire her. But yeah, you can’t just cut off communications, no matter how frustrating you find a subordinate.

    3. Dan*

      I get that vibe too, but I don’t consider it a negative. The OP screwed up with his reaction, but I’m not so sure his underlying feelings need a “reality check.”

      IMHO, he has every right to be upset that he came in low, got an almost 0 raise, and is told “this is the best raise ever.” I’d be upset too.

      Although I might just smile at the boss and start dishing out resumes. Or suck it up, realizing that I need a couple of years under my belt, and THEN dish out resumes.

      1. Observer*

        The problem is not that the OP is upset. The problem is that the underlying assumption is that the boss is either lying and disappointed that the OP is too stupid to realize or that the boss is hiding important performance information. THAT requires a reality check.

        “I’m disappointed in my raise” (And, although I won’t tell you this, I’m updating my resume.) is fine.

  17. neverjaunty*

    OP, what I found most striking about your letter is your chain of assumptions about your boss’s thinking. Do you have any real, concrete reason to think that your boss believes you’re stupid and is deliberately messing with you?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yes – and this also might be coloring her thinking about the cancellation of 1-on-1s and other things. They could be unrelated, but sometimes your mind will create patterns where it’s really a matter of coincidence.

      1. Lizzy May*

        At the same time, if an employee made a comment like that during a review, wouldn’t you go out of your way to touch base with that employee and see if they understand how unprofessional and inappropriate their behavior was? If you’re worried about an employee’s judgment, wouldn’t you be watching them a little closer? I do think the OP needs to step back and look at her reactions and her assumptions, but taking her statements at face value, her manager isn’t managing by not responding to emails and doing less coaching. There are problems on both sides and as far as we can tell, only the OP is taking steps to improve the relationship.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I definitely agree, and the manager isn’t handling this well either. Maybe he wants to allow them both some cooling off time before meeting again, or maybe he’s working on the paperwork to fire her. Not really sure, but his response is problematic too.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Why not? Until you’ve cut them loose, managing them is still your job. Refusing to do so is really not much different than an employee who slacks off after she’s given notice.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Let me clarify. Yes, managing this person is still your job, and I think ghosting this employee is just as immature as the employee’s outburst. I was responding to the question wouldn’t you go out of your way to touch base with that employee and see if they understand how unprofessional and inappropriate their behavior was? If you’re worried about an employee’s judgment, wouldn’t you be watching them a little closer? And my answer is no, I wouldn’t. If I had already decided to fire this employee, and was just taking some time to get my ducks in a row, I wouldn’t care if she understood how unprofessional her behavior was. I wouldn’t watch her closely to see just how bad her judgement is. I’d manage her work as always, but I wouldn’t be looking for ways to improve her as an employee. I’d be looking for ways to speed her exit.

              1. neverjaunty*

                But if you had already decided to fire the employee over that outburst, then you would have fired them already. And if you were stuck with them for a long time until the hammer came down, you’d be working with them not as a favor for their professional development, but for your own sake and that of your other reports. Somebody who doesn’t understand professional norms and judgment is going to cause problems for you as long as they’re present.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  I was thinking this person is going to be fired in the short term, not long term. If it’s going to be more than a matter of days, then I might spend some time trying to educate them. Otherwise, it’s a waste of my time.

      2. Elle the new fed*

        I agree it may merely be coincidence.

        My boss has cancelled a lot of 1:1s over the past two months. It’s was because 1) we are very busy and are skipping the established time in favor of dropping in whenever and 2) it’s the holidays and people take vacation.

      3. AnotherFed*

        Especially with the holidays – normal schedules go out the window for a few weeks for most people, but new/entry level employees who don’t have much PTO yet often are in the office. Even when people come back, it takes most people a couple of days to dig out and get back to normal ops. That could easily add to the perception of being ignored, especially if the OP is already keyed up about the raise.

    2. hbc*

      I wonder if both OP and the boss are a little bit low on empathetic skills/abilities. (Sorry, OP, obviously speculation.) Boss seems to think that OP would appreciate a penny seeing that it came from Scrooge McDuck. Yeah, it’s something of a minor miracle to get it from him, but if you don’t know the Scrooge all that well, you’re not going to appreciate the gesture, and it definitely doesn’t pay the bills. Even if it’s industry standard to pay low and stay low at that level, Boss should remember that he’s dealing with someone new to the workforce.

      Similarly, the only explanation OP can come up with, even after time to recover from the initial shock, is that this is some kind of evil plan. Not possible that raise is pretty much unheard of at foot-in-the-door level? That as a policy they don’t give raises to people hired on less than a year and this was personally signed off by the CEO? That raises are typically based on inflation and there was no inflation last year? Nope, there was profit, the profit didn’t filter down to me the way I expected, therefore shenanigans.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        +1 for the Scrooge McDuck analogy. I agree that that’s probably what’s behind the boss’s enthusiastic reaction for an otherwise unimpressive raise. The boss probably should have provided more context for WHY .5% was a good raise under the circumstances.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Yes, I had the same thoughts. OP’s reaction is similar to that of people who have a generally hostile and/or defensive underlying outlook (‘I will look weak/naive if it appears that someone was able to exploit some lack of knowledge on my part’), that might be coloring her perception of her manager’s subsequent-to-the-outburst behavior, as well. I would use Alison’s apology script, and then maybe seek an explanation from the boss about the reasons why she thought 0.5% was a good raise. Listen to what she says, without interjecting or leaping to conclusions. Take her words home and ponder on them and see if they make sense to you when you consider your raise in the context of this further information. If not, then start planning to look for a job with a salary and raise protocols more in line with your expectations.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There’s an undertone of an expectation of being “screwed over” which may be justified but we do not have much background to go on. Or maybe OP believes that no boss will do right by her employees. I can’t tell what is driving the undertone.

    4. TradeMark*

      I wondered about this as well, but from personal experience, I took it as there may have been body language, etc in play that obviously we can’t see and wasn’t conveyed by the OP in her letter. As they say, body language is 55% (I think?) of conversation. Perhaps the boss was acting really condescendingly whilst trying to explain to the employee how ‘great’ her raise was? Not that this justifies the response, but I wonder if there is more to the story, of why that was the OP’s gut reaction. An ex-boss used to do this to me all the time. Every time I talked to him it would get my hackles up, and it took me awhile before I could figure out why – it was the way he approached every conversation acting as though I was ‘beneath’ him. Not from anything he actually ‘said’ mind you, he was an expert at ‘saying’ all the right things, but entirely to do with the way he was behaving. Sometimes your subconscious picks up on cues that you don’t immediately register, and you react in a way that you wouldn’t normally. For me, I still have a really hard time to troubleshoot these types of relationships, as how do you say to someone, I don’t like the way you’re looking at me, thanks? Considering most communication is done non-verbally, I do find it a bit ironic that in the workplace, where we spend most of our day, so much of our behaviour and attitude is expected to be derived from following the right ‘script’.

  18. bopper*

    It also depends on how much control your boss has over raises. In my large company, they and other managers in the group are given a bucket of money to distribute raises from. If they don’t get much, then they do the best they can…and usually you can trust a boss who says they gave you the most they could. But surely by now you would know if your boss was trust worthy or not.

  19. Sharon*

    Lots of good feedback so far, so I don’t have anything more to add except my own story to commiserate with the OP.

    My first non-fastfood job in my last year of college was data entry with a small local construction firm. At one point, after I’d caught up entering a HUGE stack of invoices (well over 6 month’s worth), and got to know everybody pretty well, one of the full timers quit suddenly and in a hissy fit. She clearly felt that they’d suffer without her and would crawl on their knees to ask her back. But since I’d been working near her for a while, I was able to step into most of her day to day tasks. The people she worked with expressed a lot of appreciation for that. After they hired another full timer to replace her, the boss told me I did a great thing and he was going to give me a raise. Woot!

    When the HR lady showed me a piece of paper with my raise on it, she had a happy smile…. which quickly died when she saw my face. Clearly I must have looked crestfallen. The raise was 25 cents/hour. I only said thank you to her and otherwise kept my feelings to myself. But I felt it was kind of a slap in the face. “Here my good man, save up enough and you too, can buy your own car soon” (as the rich man tosses two pennies to the valet).

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I was seeing a physical therapist who was having trouble keeping an assistant. She told me that after a good 6 months she gives them a 25 cent/hour raise. I politely suggested that a bigger raise might be better to retain talent.

      1. the gold digger*

        I get so tired of seeing the stories in the paper that local employers can’t find experienced welders for $12 an hour.

        Really? You want highly-skilled labor to make precision machinery but want to pay only slightly above minimum wage? Good luck with that.

        (Related: A few big companies in a small city near where I live are complaining about all kinds of open positions – they want the city to do a PR campaign about the benefits of living there. I am thinking, “Nope. All the companies need to do is increase salaries. That will attract interest.”)

        1. Mike C.*

          My friends in the tech industry laugh at the ads for developers going for 50k in the midwest and owners complaining that there aren’t any takers.

          Anytime someone says, “We can’t find enough people to fill these jobs”, you need to mentally add, “at the price we want to pay”.

          1. SL #2*

            $50K?! Christ. I know COL is much lower out there than in SF, but that doesn’t excuse the companies.

            1. neverjaunty*

              But it’s the Midwest! Housing prices there are super low! They still live in old timey ways and have simpler lives!

          2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Which is the reason some companies claim “we need more H1B visas! There’s no one here to do the work we need done”

            at the prices we want to pay (ahem)

        2. VintageLydia*

          The market is ever so slowly shifting away from employers again and they are NOT used to it. There is a reason the minimum wage protests are getting traction now even though they’ve been going on since before the recession.

      2. Paralegal Manager*

        Yeah…. $0.25/hour. That is the raise I got for my summer internship each summer I returned. In the mid 1990s.

    2. Who watches the watchers?*

      My job during college was like this. Because we were classified as interns we only received raises on a quarter basis. i.e. $10/hr, $10.25/hr, $10.50/hr and so on. We were only allowed to get one .25 cent raise each time, so no let’s give you .50 cents this time or anything like that.

      But–it was college. I totally didn’t expect some fabulous raise. The worst part was when I finally got my first out of college job and my starting pay was lower than when I was an intern. :(

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I work for the state government, and because the legislature controls raises for state employees, my raises in this job have all been like that. My first two years, we got a 1% increase, which for me equated to $.16/hour. This last year, we got a 2.5% increase, which means– $.40/hr. Over the years they’ve added up, but when your wages are fairly low to begin with, even a normal 3% increase equals out to cents per hour.

    4. Golden Yeti*

      As someone who has experienced a similar situation to the OP (except not fresh out of college), I can appreciate the frustration. In my case, my raise percentage was announced in a company meeting–when we got out and I calculated the actual dollar amount that would be, I was profoundly disappointed.

      While employers aren’t required to give raises (especially dependant on how long you’ve been there, work quality, etc.), it can be hugely validating or invalidating. It’s a gut punch to go above and beyond and never see proportionate results.

      However. OP, this is your first job out of college. You are still building your workplace reputation. The job you are at now will be one of your first references when you are looking for a new one. Your response didn’t reflect on you well; the manager’s response didn’t reflect on him well–that’s been established elsewhere. If you can, you need to try to smooth this over, both for your immediate future at this company and for your longer-term future elsewhere.

      As other have pointed out, you might face a similar scenario later in life. Don’t blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Ask questions (“can you tell me why you felt $X increase was appropriate at this time?”) and if needed, make a game plan. As Alison has said before, build a case as to why you deserve more–keeping it focused on your work, not on how you personally feel about the original offer.

    5. Anon Accountant*

      My old boss had an attitude of praising an employee up and down, you are the greatest ever, etc. Then the employee used accomplishments and cited excellent feedback all year and then suddenly “Well, your work was okay. Not great.”

      He never understood why talented staff quit.

  20. B*

    Ooooph, huge huge oooph. I have to agree with many of the assumptions up top – you seem to be doing a “sorry, not sorry” approach to this as well as the fact you thought you were owed a raise. In this economy, many many organizations are doing no raises or cost of living increases so a .5% actually is not that bad.

    As well, you stated you took this job knowing it was at the lower end of the market to get a foot in the door. But to me it sounds like you are now regretting that and this raise pushed that to the forefront.

    1. neverjaunty*

      In this economy, there are people who are putting their heads down and saying nothing about long-term wage theft because they are desperate for jobs, but I don’t think we’d tell an OP whose boss cheated her out of a few overtime hours to “be grateful” that it wasn’t worse.

      We don’t, as AAM said, have any information about whether the small raise is normal or unusual for OP’s workplace.

        1. Kelly L.*

          It’s a real thing, and some people put up with it because they’re afraid to lose their jobs. Read something other than Off My Lawn Monthly, please.

        1. neverjaunty*

          “Be grateful it isn’t worse, lots of employees get treated that way on the regular” is the same thinking.

          And, again, we simply don’t have enough context to know if this was a reasonable raise or outrageous.

      1. B*

        You are talking about apples and oranges. Actually working and not being paid for it is one thing. Being upset because your raise is not as high as you wanted it to be is something very different.

        The OP asked if this raise was out of line and what I am imparting is that no, it is not out of line compared to many other companies. If it is out of line for hers is only something she can know.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But that’s the entire point. At some companies, that raise would be insulting and completely out of line. That’s equally useless information.

  21. Bend & Snap*

    My mouth actually dropped open reading this.

    Given the boss’s response to all of this, I think OP needs to be job hunting. Cancelling 1:1s is never a god sign.

    And…wow. That’s not the way to lobby for a bigger raise.

  22. Tropicool*

    OP, I think your reaction was driven mostly by the fact that it’s your first performance review, ever. I think many people come out of college with high salary and raise expectations, and the real world just doesn’t operate that way. Some years you get raises, some years you don’t. I’ve gotten raises that I thought were shitty, and sometimes I said so (but in a more professional way- ie, based on my accomplishments last year and my rating, how can my salary begin to reflect that).

    I know many people at large companies who haven’t gotten raises in years, or get 1-2% raises. If 0.5% raises are the norm at your company, yes it may be time to look around. Be glad you made this mistake at your first job, take it as a development point, and move on.

  23. grasshopper*

    As much as your company/manager is often looking out for the well being of the company and not you, they shouldn’t be your adversary. People do have to stand up for themselves and I think that often people don’t get raises or salaries because they just don’t ask. However, there is an art to negotiation and that wasn’t the way to do it. I don’t think that your manager handled it well either though if they are refusing to speak to you now.

    I also think that your relationship with this company already started on the wrong foot if you feel that you were underpaid from the beginning. These ‘foot in the door’ stories seem to come with lots of expectations on the part of the job-seeker that aren’t often met. For your next job, remember that you should be starting at a salary that you are comfortable with because raises or bonuses are never guaranteed.

  24. Kay*

    Sounds like another entitled brat raised to think they were a special snowflake and deserve whatever they want. I could never imagine saying something like this to a boss. Ever!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Not helpful. You should really read the commenting guidelines before you hit the “submit” button.

    2. esra*

      Come on now. A .5% raise sucks, and we all know it sucks. It’s a bad economy, so some people get no raises at all, but that doesn’t make any of it okay. And when you’re new to the workforce, it’s a pretty big slap in the face.

      No, it wasn’t a good reaction, but I would hardly call someone an entitled brat for wanting to be compensated fairly and/or have honest reviews with their manager.

    3. Mike C.*

      Average raises are around 3%. This isn’t about entitlement, this is about being told you were great, that the company had a great year and then not sharing in the success.

      Maybe you enjoy eating crap sandwiches, but that doesn’t anyone else who doesn’t is being “entitled” or “a special snowflake”.

      1. Sans*

        I agree. I can’t believe all the people here who think a .5 raise is okay just because there are others that get no raise. Of course the OP’s reaction to the raise was really bad and unadvisable. But I hate the viewpoint of “be grateful you have a job and just take whatever they give you.” No, no, NO. Be businesslike, be polite, be tactful — but if I got a .5 raise while being praised to the skies I would thank them for the praise and politely question the raise — what the avg. raise was for the company, if this was an unusual year, etc. And if I didn’t like the answers I got, I would again politely thank them for their time and immediately update my resume and get job searching.

        Throughout my career I’ve seen many people accept horrible treatment and inadequate wages because they were “grateful to have a job.” And these were talented, accomplished employees who were well qualified to do better elsewhere. As AAM often says, the employer isn’t doing you a favor by hiring you. The two of you are coming to a mutual agreement that benefits both of you.

    4. V*

      Not helpful and, ironically, adversarial in the same way Alison and the other commenters are advising the LW she should avoid because it is not helpful to reach the outcome she wants.

    5. YogiJosephina*

      I was just WAITING for this comment. I KNEW someone was going to go there.

      Alison and the others already have called you on your flawed logic here, but before you go off on “kids these days,” even if what you believe WERE true (spoiler alert: it’s not), you might want to stop and consider WHO RAISED KIDS THESE DAYS.

      People who spout this off always seem to conveniently forget that part.

  25. Yep, me again*

    Not to make OP feel bad, but mic-drop moments rarely work in corporate life.

    I know. I’ve done it. It was bad.


      1. Adam V*

        Given how many lottery winners seem to end up losing everything, I probably wouldn’t even do a mic drop then.

      2. neverjaunty*

        And maybe not even then. A friend of mine had a co-worker who THOUGHT he won the lottery, and then quit without notice in a very “take this job and shove it” manner.

        I don’t need to tell you how that ended up, right?

        1. Myrin*

          I admittedly don’t know anything about playing the lottery but I’m intrigued – how does someone think they won the lottery without it actually being the case?

          1. Adam V*

            There’s one lottery in my state where the order of the numbers matters, so getting the same numbers isn’t enough.

            There are also lots of scratch-offs here where you have to read everything first to know for certain how to play – for example, the bottom half may make it look like a winner, but because the top portion didn’t match, it’s doesn’t count. Or maybe you’re only allowed to scratch off four numbers, and you scratched off five (or the whole board).

            Lottery rule #1 – it’s not a winning lottery ticket until you have the money in your hands. :)

          2. Kyrielle*

            I’m going to guess they misread or misremembered a number, *or* they had that exact number on a ticket that was for a different day’s drawing. If I had a ticket for Saturday’s Powerball, that had exactly the numbers drawn this Wednesday, and I thought it was a ticket for Wednesday’s drawing…I could be all excited, for no reason.

    1. VintageLydia*

      I’m glad I tried my mic-drop moments in retail where the tolerance for that BS is much higher and somehow not career ending (at least not with my managers. Other retailers, and hell, other stores in my district would be less forgiving.)

      1. Yep, me again*

        It wasn’t a good idea on my part regardless. I did the mic drop when I was at work and someplace else leaving a job-a double-plus super bad thing to do. Could have handled it better, didn’t feel like it.

        What I don’t get, and maybe its because I’m old, is the 5% part. That’s not half bad. That’s ‘somewhat cost of living increase plus…’ I’ll grant that there maybe financial pressures, we all have those when we get out of college, but it seems likely that OP went in to the job unaware of the pay scale and doubly unaware of how raises work. I have to wonder where he got that idea. Or who? His parents? Friends?

        When got my first job out of college I had financial pressures to boot! It sucked. Worse still, I got a 40 cent raise and I was hoping for 50 cents. I said to myself, Nope! I’m out. Of course I was vastly underpaid too I also thought I would get a raise, the idea I wouldn’t was beyond me at that age when I suffered from YSD syndrome (Young, dumb and stupid). But that wasn’t the mic drop moment, that came later when I had more experience and thought I knew everything. It’s been several years, several jobs, my resume is now two pages (thanks Allison!) I’ve been lauded and applauded by customers, managers and co-workers alike.

        I’m not getting a raise this year either, just more of the same work for the same (and somewhat less) pay.

        Ah, pride….it’s the dirty filter through which we see life.

    2. Cassandra*

      Likewise. It’s still one of my major work regrets.
      Life does go on, though. I’ll see the Onwards! and raise a Forward!

  26. Helka*

    What a mess all around.

    OP, for your part of this — an annoyingly huge part of professionalism is keeping a stiff upper lip. Sometimes you have to sit in a meeting and listen to someone tell you something awful and unfair and frustrating, and you get a million times further with being able to calmly and clearly raise your concerns instead of letting out knee-jerk outbursts. It stinks. It really does. But I think Alison is right that your relationship with your boss is now pretty well trashed.

    On the other hand, your boss isn’t handling this well either. Even for someone who has misbehaved badly, the cold shoulder treatment is unbecoming of an adult in any position of authority — or in fact, of an adult at all. You haven’t been fired, so he needs to continue to be your manager, not pretend you don’t exist.

    One way or another, I think it’s time to move on.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “Sometimes you have to sit in a meeting and listen to someone tell you something awful and unfair and frustrating”

      Oh this. I once got some devastating professional news and the delivery was handled really badly too, and I held it together until the end of the day and then was crying so hard I couldn’t even drive. I drove a little bit and then pulled off into a parking lot and just sobbed and sobbed. Not my finest moment but I’m just glad I didn’t do it at work!

      1. Helka*

        That was my most recent performance review. For reasons that are 100% not my current manager’s fault, I’ve been fruitlessly chasing a promotion for the last four years, and then she sat me down to tell me that she was restructuring job responsibilities at all levels of our department so that not only was I not getting a promotion this year, I also wouldn’t be getting one next year because she couldn’t imagine me being able to master my new duties to an expected level in 12 months.

        I pretty much ended up sitting with a frozen face for a while until the end of the review when I could mange to calmly talk with her about how that was frustrating and disheartening (translation: well just flush my morale down the toilet, why don’t you?) but I would do my best to exceed her expectations with the new structure.

      2. Uni Admin*

        Agreed. I’ve had some seriously unprofessional moments, but there was one time in particular I got some really upsetting professional news. I broke after I left the office and ended up leaving early, but at least I didn’t burst into tears in front of my supervisor and my supervisor’s supervisor. It could’ve ended up in a much more embarrassing way than it did.

        1. Ethyl*

          I am forever grateful to the HR and upper level guys who came in to lay off my whole department who let us just leave that day after we had taken a moment to collect ourselves. And grateful to my boss who called us each into his office individually to tell us how much he had enjoyed working for us and assuring us of references before we all went and cried in our cars. That was a terrible situation that really was made so much better by my wonderful coworkers and boss.

  27. Rebecca*

    Oh, wow. I would love to get any sort of raise, cost of living or merit based. Since our company was sold to a another company, raises have ceased. I’d take 1/2 of 1%!!

    Note for future, OP – in the future, if you have a job and are lucky enough to get raises, say thank you. If you think you’ve been short changed, ask your manager what you can do to earn more. If the answer is nothing, look for another job. I really fear you’ve burned your bridges with this company.

  28. Just a citizen*

    Do you know how much of a raise people with no job got? Zero. The entitlement mentality of the millennials is just absolutely amazing.

    1. F.*

      Please don’t stereotype people. Many, many millennials are NOT “entitled”, and there are many, many people of all ages who DO have the entitlement mentality.

    2. Temporarily Anon*

      Please be respectful! Calling someone entitled because of their age and desire to be compensated fairly for doing a good job (which the OP did based on their overall review) is not appropriate.

    3. Mike C.*

      The people who are happy with a race to the bottom really surprise me.

      Do you know what millennials got to do growing up? The got to watch the raises and progress of their parents shrivel up, pensions go the way of the dodo while their bosses and management made huge gains. Then they got to watch as factories closed and jobs disappeared all together.

      The entitlement we should be pointing to is the entitlement of those who presume people should be happy with low wages, no benefits and a lifetime of being treated like human garbage from those on high.

      1. LOLwut*

        I for one hope the “entitled generation” gets everything they want. If they feel entitled, good for them. They know the score better than my generation did.

      2. Mike B.*


        The last two generations haven’t left millennials in a great position, so we do at least owe them kind and respectful treatment.

      3. Helka*

        Not to mention those of us who graduated at the start of the financial crisis and suddenly found ourselves competing with experienced professionals for entry-level jobs!

      4. neverjaunty*

        This. I know a lot of people would like it to be the 19th century all over again, but those people need to fall off a cliff.

      5. Ad Astra*

        Generally speaking: Yes, I believe I’m entitled to be treated like a human being even in situations where young people/women/whoever else has not been treated like a human being. I’m entitled to be paid for my labor and I’m entitled to my feelings — particularly the feeling of frustration when a college education and hard work don’t turn out to be enough for the middle-class income I was promised. (Turns out, the folks who promised me that didn’t have the authority to make such promises.) I’m sure as heck entitled to express disappointment or dissatisfaction with crummy working conditions and crummy managers and crummy companies.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Sure, you’re “entitled to express disappointment or dissatisfaction with crummy working conditions and crummy managers and crummy companies.” Just be careful where/when/how you say it. Venting to trusted friends – say whatever. Venting at work – be careful – you don’t always know who happens to be in earshot.

      6. TowerofJoy*

        This. So much this.

        Millennials also graduated high school and college in the midst of a recession not of their making and had to work incredibly hard and swallow their pride to get anywhere at all. I’m tired of hearing them called entitled. I know everyone does this to the generation behind them, but I think its time we stopped it.

    4. Sunflower*

      Everything is relative. OP admits they handled this in the wrong way and telling them they should be happy to have any raise only hurts her and all other job seekers. It further reinforces the idea to employers that low pay/no raises/any job=totally okay and status quo. Isn’t that the idea we are all trying to get employers away from?

    5. A Teacher*

      Not helpful and also not true as it is really pretty unfair to lump an entire generation (which extends from 1982-kids that are 15) I teach the bottom part of the millennials and I’m one of the older millennials. It is a crappy raise, his/her response wasn’t smart but that doesn’t mean he/she is entitled.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This isn’t about millennials; people of all ages and generations feel entitled to things they aren’t entitled to. Plenty of millennials don’t behave like that (most, in fact).

    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      And regardless of whether or not the OP is a Millennial (not everyone who just graduated from college is 22, after all), it’s not helpful to anyone to play the “who has it worse” game. Everyone deserves to be treated well (including the OP’s boss, which the OP didn’t do.)

    8. Ad Astra*

      Where, exactly, do older generations think Millennials got their ideas about how things like raises work? They didn’t come up with these ideas in a vacuum; they observed their parents and grandparents and drew conclusions about How The World Works based on what they saw. And what they saw were cost-of-living adjustments, pensions, bonuses, and middle-class paychecks for entry-level workers.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Yeah, I’ve never understood people with kids who fall into “Millennial” age brackets blanket-criticising how they think, behave etc, when it’s their generation who raised them that way! Every time this comes up, my mind boggles a little. And if it’s Gen Xers doing that….. don’t you remember what people/media said about us, and what nonsense it was then?

    9. Laurel Gray*

      Sigh. Even in taking out the context of the OP being new in the workforce and relatively new at the job, with the rising cost of living in metro and suburban areas across the country, it is amazing how many employers salaries do not reflect the “market”. Yeah, 500k or so jobs been added to the economy in the last month or so but in most cities, drive by a new development and it’s most likely luxury rentals or condos. People earning .05% raises even with high performance are not affording that and it stinks – creating a larger sinkhole of “wtf” for middle class workers. Sure, the OP’s approach wasn’t pretty either but this topic should be a wake up call to everyone. And when people like the OP and others in these comments are fighting back when employers offer them gummy bears as a raise, it is actually helping establish more competitive wages – something those people with no job will appreciate when they re-join the workforce.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Except that the OP didn’t fight back in an effective way at all — her response is actually one that will make her manager just write her off, rather than making a point that will stick.

  29. rhinoceranita*

    I think it’s a dangerous line of thinking that people are saying that OP’s employer doesn’t OWE her a raise. Yes, that is technically true, but it starts to fall in line with “OP should be GRATEFUL that she has a job at all.” It’s a business transaction. I don’t like the thinking that the manager was excited to give what I feel is a paltry raise and feel pretty good about it. I understand that the manager’s hands should be tied but no one should be surprised that someone would feel deflated at that number.

    OP’s emotional response was not good but I totally understand. I’ve been in a position before where no financial incentive was mentioned in my annual performance review despite being able to demonstrate efficiencies and improvements with clear monetary benefits to the company. It turns out my manager was being a space case and I received the raise in my paycheck before it was communicated to me. I would have balked at no increase or 0.5% increase and found myself a new job sooner rather than later. I think it’s about valuing an employee and being honest with them about the circumstances.

    1. Marcela*

      I think it’s a dangerous line of thinking that people are saying that OP’s employer doesn’t OWE her a raise.

      Exactly! I agree it’s absolutely true, but I feel like underneath there is this thought of “we should quietly accept anything that’s given to us, for if we dare to complain we won’t have a job”, which is something we should fight with all our might. This doesn’t mean OP’s reaction was right: it’s more like everyone and everything in this situation is wrong.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Definitely not what I mean when I say it. I pointed it out because it should inform the OP’s reaction; if you’re entitled to something that you don’t get, it makes sense to be angry (and the reverse is true).

  30. Sunflower*

    Agree with Allison that it’s impossible to tell if this was a good, bad, normal raise- that would depend on your company. I’m getting a vibe that you agreed to start at a below average salary because you thought you’d be getting constant raises and eventually it would line up with the salary you wanted? That’s not really how it works. There’s a lot of reasons a company would start you at a below average salary- you don’t mention anything else about the workplace so I don’t know if you’re getting other perks and benefits that might make up for it. But it’s possible they are just really cheap and your boss may have been working there so long he doesn’t really know what the standard average raise is. I don’t think your boss was trying to pull one on you- it’s totally possible this would be an amazing raise at this company.

    Either way, this conversation with your boss tells you a lot. It sounds like you want to be making more and this company isn’t going to give you that anytime soon. I think you’d benefit by apologizing the way Allison suggested- if you haven’t already – and job searching.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I’m getting a vibe that you agreed to start at a below average salary because you thought you’d be getting constant raises and eventually it would line up with the salary you wanted? That’s not really how it works.

      You’re right, that’s not how it works — but man, if I had a dollar for every HR person or hiring manager who tried to tell me that’s how things work in an effort to lowball me, I’d have enough money for a decent lunch today. I hope this can serve as kind of a PSA for people who are new to the workforce.

      1. neverjaunty*

        So true. And so many of those companies that pay you decent wages “eventually” mysteriously have high turnover before people get to that “eventually”.

        1. Sunflower*

          I agree! I’m skeptical of anyone who offers me a low salary and nothing but promises of future opportunity. At my previous job, which I only took bc I desperately needed one, I was told there was room to advance in the company(lie) and every year we had annual reviews and raises would be discussed then(I never had an annual review and one of my bosses disclosed to me as I was leaving that he hasn’t received a raise in 8 years. Plus your raise is still relative to whatever your low salary is. Most people want raises every year in addition to their desired salary). 2 examples of successful friends who started at below average salary

          1 works for a nonprofit and was told she would probably be paid less than for profit counter parts as long as she worked there. However, she also receives amazing healthcare for free, ample vacation time, flex working hours. She loves her job.
          1 started at a low salary and was told she would need to work in this job for 6 months. If she did well, she would move up to X position making X salary and she did. That was the way the company started all entry-level employees.

          So yeah I need some sort of concrete explanation of why this is necessary and what kind of other perks I’m getting

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I’m skeptical of anyone who offers me a low salary and nothing but promises of future opportunity.

            I’m going to stick my tongue firmly in my cheek and say “At least they’re offering you a low salary!” Because when you work freelance, the unscrupulous ones don’t even offer that. It’s all Do this work for me and… “if I like it, I’ll pay for it” or “I can’t pay you, but it’ll be good exposure/testimonial/case study/portfolio piece” or “I just want to see what you can do first” or “I can give you lots of work/referrals in the future.” Gah. Try saying that to a doctor next time you’re sick.

  31. Interviewer*

    A cautionary tale:

    I went to bat for a good raise for a high performer in a down year. Historically raises had been fairly automatic, and 6-7% was the norm. In the down year, max was 1.5%, but I made the case & got this employee a 3% raise. I started off her meeting with a review of her evaluation, high marks all around. I told her I had worked hard to get her a very good raise in a down year, and presented the new figures. She had the exact same reaction to me that OP did. I really took it personally, especially after singing her praises to my own boss. Turns out she was going through a personal financial crisis, and based on her evaluation & hard work throughout the year, she was expecting at least 10%. She also felt like she was totally underpaid. I let her know that 10% wouldn’t be possible, that she really was already paid at the top of the market, and I had worked hard to get her a raise she deserved in a down year. She clearly didn’t believe me, and stormed out in a huff. The whole meeting took about 5 minutes. Then her supervisor called me to say she had left for the day, that she was very upset. I called my boss to pow-wow, and we decided her behavior was very unprofessional & inappropriate, but we’d give her a little bit of time to cool off. I planned to have a meeting with her the next day to discuss it.

    The next day, she came to me with hat in hand to apologize, before I had a chance to schedule anything with her. She had called the local staffing agency to “do some research”, and the agency recruiter told her she was already very well paid, that no one in town was giving raises that year. The recruiter said she didn’t have any opportunities that would be a fit on salary, that the hiring market sucked, and she likely wouldn’t have any leads for a while. (Said recruiter is a personal friend of mine. Yes, I called to thank her profusely for the independent confirmation.)

    I accepted the employee’s apology, and we moved on. However, a few months later when the company was bought and only a portion of the team got roles in the new company, she was not included in the offers, and it was largely because of her behavior in that meeting.

    1. Regina Phalange*

      It sucks that she was having a financial crisis but she shouldn’t have made that your problem!

  32. I'm Not Phyllis*

    My guess would be that your manager needs some time to figure out where to go from here – to be honest I wouldn’t even know what to say if one of my employees reacted that way to a raise. I work in the non-profit sector where wage freezes are common and raises are more like 2% rather than 3. My last raise was only 1% even though my rating was great – and, like you, I was disappointed. I still responded with a “thank you” … granted I was already job hunting and knew I wouldn’t be there for another review.

    For what it’s worth, I would chalk this up to a valuable learning experience. Even if your boss chooses to keep you on his team, I would start looking elsewhere since this lapse in judgment/professionalism isn’t something he’s likely to forget anytime soon.

  33. Regina Phalange*

    When I got a 1.5% raise my boss apologized to me specifically citing how little it was. However, since I had only been there a couple of months before year end reviews, I was grateful for anything. But yeah, I mean 0.5% is terrible. However, that response was also pretty bad. It is going to be a lesson learned because I am not sure the relationship is salvageable.

  34. BananaPants*

    Ouch, ouch, ouch. This one may be hard to recover from, given how you approached it. In light of your boss’ behavior towards you, I would start job hunting ASAP.

    Our new hires don’t get a merit increase in the first annual cycle, just like you usually don’t get anything in the merit cycle after a promotion (which comes with a much more substantial raise). If they start working mid-year, they may be here 18+ months before getting their first raise. This was a surprise to me when I started working because no one explained it to me and I assumed I’d get the annual merit increase along with my coworkers, but I understood why they do it that way.

    We’ve had years here where the average was 1 or 2% or there was a pay freeze – especially during the recession, if you got ANY raise that was cause for celebration. I think we had a solid 2-3 year freeze from 2008-2010 and we were happy we weren’t being furloughed on top of it. I can’t remember the last time we had an org. average over 3%. Pay has not kept pace with inflation over the last decade or so and you’ll likely find that almost everywhere in the private sector.

    You’re not entitled to a raise unless you have an employment contract stipulating one. Just as your employer can terminate the relationship at any time, you’re free to seek other employment with compensation that’s more to your liking. Depending on the organization’s average raise, giving you 0.5% could have been completely in-line with what others got for great performance, or it could have been a warning that you’re next on the chopping block.

    Around here, one’s annual increase has virtually no relationship with performance review scores, so getting a great review is no guarantee of a great raise. Over 90% of employees here get a very good or excellent score on their review, yet most of us still get somewhere around the average (or nothing at all if an employee has maxed out their pay grade).

    1. BananaPants*

      I’ve been able to tell my manager that I was in essence insulted by a raise and had a positive outcome, getting an overdue promotion as a result. However, I knew my raise was below the organizational average even though my rating was “exceeds expectations” and that my previous manager had promised me the promotion over a year earlier if I had achieved certain objectives (which I had exceeded).

      That said, I am a mid-career individual contributor who’s been with the company for over 10 years and have a skillset and knowledge base that is not easily/immediately replaceable, so I had some leverage on that end. I was also polite and forthright in outlining why I had expected more and was honest in saying that if I didn’t see a change in my compensation in the next year or two I would have no choice but to look for another job. There were no hard feelings or blowups and it was a productive discussion. A few months later I was promoted with a large raise.

      1. Adam V*

        This is exactly the way to do it.

        – Show a history of above-average work.
        – If at all possible, show how the company has treated you less well than you deserve (in your case, a promised promotion that hadn’t come through).
        – Have leverage and a willingness to look elsewhere.
        – And above all, keep things polite and emotionally level.

        Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like the OP had much in the way of any of these (new-ish contributor, little to no leverage, negative reaction) and that’s going to make it harder to revisit.

  35. Mike B.*

    Oof. Well, now you know not to do that anymore.

    That said, it’s easier to defend an employee who blurted out something dumb in the heat of the moment than it is to defend a manager cold-shouldering a direct report who screwed up. Your manager is supposed to have the maturity and professionalism to speak honestly about this with you and give you the chance to prove that you’ve learned your lesson, and if he doesn’t, it’s probably time to think about moving on. Nobody wants a manager who decides he doesn’t like you and won’t be persuaded otherwise.

    And for the record, it’s fine to express disappointment in a raise that doesn’t keep pace with inflation, as long as you do it in a manner that’s a lot more tactful. A lot of people insist that you should be happy with whatever crumbs they throw you; don’t join them on a race to the bottom.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I feel the same way about the manager. Cold shoulders and silent treatments are not appropriate reactions to anything your direct reports do. You either talk to them about the problem or you let it go, but you don’t play mind games like some kind of middle school bully.

    2. Kyrielle*

      Yes. I should add, since I’ve largely been focusing on OP’s expectations and role, that the manager ghosting is woefully unprofessional. OP, it will do you no good to focus on that and try to address it, I should note – but be aware it’s a bad sign about your manager, because where you had a bad response in the moment…they are *continuing to ghost you still*. It’s an ongoing decision, by someone with more responsibility, to abdicate part of their job.

      Even if they’re actively working to fire you, not having meetings with you in the meanwhile is unprofessional, and I’m not impressed by that part of it.

      The best thing you can do is still what Alison suggested, though; just be aware of the data point and ready to move on if they cut you loose, or if things continue this way (because there is no good way to excel in a job where your manager is actively avoiding you).

  36. Ad Astra*

    I have a feeling the OP felt she was sticking up for herself, likely the way she’d been taught to do by her parents or professors or somebody in her life. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what advocating for yourself should look like, especially in work situations. I can’t tell you how many times my parents or friends have told me a company is “taking advantage” of me (for instance, by asking an exempt employee to work unpaid overtime, which AAMers all know is both legal and common) and suggested some pretty adversarial approaches that wouldn’t have helped me. For me, at least, it took a while to realize I should be trying to work with my bosses, not against them.

    1. BananaPants*

      Yes, my mother is in a field that is typically salaried or hourly non-exempt, so she got her hackles up when she found out I was working ~50 hour weeks with no overtime pay – there were a lot of comments of, “They’re taking advantage of you” and “You need to ask for a raise” even though that’s the expectation for an exempt employee in my field.

      Especially if our OP is from a blue collar background or has relatives working under employment contracts, she may not have expected that she wouldn’t get a certain raise for doing a good job.

      1. Ad Astra*

        When my mother found out what my starting salary was at my first post-college job (in 2011), she couldn’t help but mention that she was making more than that in 1989, when she decided to go back to school because her 8th grade education was suppressing her earning potential. She didn’t end up returning to the workforce because of a disability, so many of her ideas about how jobs should work are stuck in the ’80s.

        1. Mike B.*

          …that’s genuinely appalling, actually. Not just the salary discrepancy, but the fact that we’ve come to accept it and think our parents are out of touch for remarking on how bad it is.

  37. Ultraviolet*

    OP, I think you need to be prepared to be fired really soon. Get your job search going right away, especially if you have any leads from your last search that aren’t cold yet. This episode will seriously impact the reference you’ll get from this job, so your search will be much easier while you’re still working there and can reasonably ask prospective employers not to contact them. For that reason, I strongly advocate job searching now even if you somehow get assured tomorrow that you won’t be fired for this. Getting laid off unexpectedly in six months will be nearly as bad.

    1. The Butcher of Luverne*

      To add to this advice: negotiate as strongly as possible for the money you want before you accept the job, and don’t expect anything more over the first year or so, regardless of promises made about reviews/increases/COLA. Sometimes they just never appear and you are stuck at your first salary for an undetermined length of time.

  38. CM*

    If I were the OP, in my followup apology to the boss I might point out that it’s my first job right out of college, and I’m still learning about professional behavior. I think this might encourage the boss to forgive the OP as somebody who acted inappropriately not because they can’t conduct themselves professionally, but because they are new to the workplace and lots of people make cringe-worthy mistakes when they start out.

  39. Navy Vet*

    Let’s step away from the “You were lucky to get a raise at all” rhetoric for a few minutes. I say this because the last few reports on the economy etc have all been good over all, the economy has picked up for the most part. However, we seem to have gotten to a place where we just accept we will not get raises if deserved because of 2008. That was 8 years ago. For those of us that are older it does seem like it was just yesterday. It’s a bit hard for me to accept the just be grateful for whatever scraps the company throws at you mentality.

    That being said, you learned quite a few lessons here. Self control and thinking before you speak are a couple. :) It’s ok to be disappointed by a raise you felt should have been better. Here are a few suggestions.

    1. In future positions when you first start a job speak to your manager directly about the review process and what the raise policy is. It’s good to find out these items before hand so you don’t get blindsided by something like this again. It might be uncomfortable for you to ask these questions, but it’s good information to have. I feel as though your reaction was based on expectations that were not met.

    2. When you go into a review (especially your first one with a company) expect to be rated a bit lower then you feel you deserve. I find that helps me manage my own expectations.

    3. When you go into your review go in prepared. With solid facts and specific numbers to help you possibly negotiate for a better review/raise. Like I did x project that saved the company $XX. I streamlined xxx process and increased output by xx%. Even if you feel like these things and accomplishments should be obvious to your manager, remember he/she is responsible for multiple employees. It’s your responsibility to remember what you did to help the company.

    As a final note, keep in mind if you haven’t been with the company for a year or more your manager’s hands may be tied on how much of a raise can be given. Some companies have very specific rules on how much of a raise can be given (if any at all) to people who have been there for less than a certain amount of time.

    Please learn from this and realize it may be time to move on. Some bosses will see this as a red light and start the process to remove you from the company. At the very least from this point forward you need to show nothing but professionalism while at work. They are probably now watching for other “problem” behaviors.

    1. LisaLee*

      These are good points. I would also add that you should have an idea of what an average raise at the company has been the past few years. That’s not always possible, but it can be helpful in trying to figure out what’s reasonable to aim for. I once had a new boss who claimed that the company never gave raises, but when I pointed out that I had to agreed to the position with the understanding that the average raise was X%, we were able to work something out (that job was screwy in other ways too and the raise thing should’ve been a red flag, but at least I got some money while I was there).

  40. katamia*


    You are not entitled to a raise. Most of the places I’ve worked did not give yearly raises. The only one that did gave me such inconsistent hours that I had to quit after a couple months. Many companies don’t give raises at all except when promoting someone. I don’t know what your job is, but if it’s a position that requires a lot of people skills (e.g., some kind of reception work or something involving negotiation), I might have fired you for what you said. Even if your job doesn’t require a lot of interaction with others, I’d take this as a very serious wake-up call to examine how you interact with other people. And, yes, you should be job hunting because it will be difficult (probably impossible) to walk back from this.

    As more general advice, your life will be easier if you stop assuming that everyone is actively trying to screw you over or insult you. Most people aren’t, and even if your boss or your company does habitually try to screw over the employees, “We’re giving you a low raise” would be an overly complicated way to do so, especially when “We’re giving you no raise at all” is typically an option.

    1. Mike B.*

      “Many companies don’t give raises at all except when promoting someone.”

      I’ve got to wonder just when we reached this point as a society, where we can type bone-chilling stuff like that without even noticing that anything’s wrong with it. Some will even defend these companies for doing whatever it takes to be “competitive.”

      And I have to keep reminding myself of how bad the OP’s offense was (answer: pretty bad), because I’m far angrier *for* her, and for others in that position, than I am *at* her.

      1. katamia*

        Well, now we (the US, anyway) have a bunch of people (like me) in their 20s and early 30s who have never known anything different because of the recession. I graduated from college just as the recession was starting, so I was totally unprepared, and the low wages and struggle to find employment that I dealt with were much worse than “I got a lower raise than I was expecting.” I agree with you that this isn’t how things should be (and I certainly wouldn’t wish what I and my peers have had to go through on anyone else), but so many people now have just never lived in that kind of work world. If I started working for a company now and got a raise with a good performance review, it would be a shock to me. It just would have never entered my mind that I’d get one, not because I don’t think I’d be a high performer but because “lots of people get raises yearly” is just something that isn’t part of my reality.

      2. Mirilla*

        +1000! Well said. I’m sure there was a day decades ago where employees were overall valued but now we’ve moved away from that, and we need to search out those companies to find them, with the assumption that in most places, we are replaceable. The attitude of “I’m doing a favor to you by offering you a job” is ridiculous. Employees are the backbone of the company. They are on the front lines with customers, they develop product, they promote the product, and they offer service to keep customers happy. It really angers me that as a society we’ve moved to a place where people are treated as a means to an end, that end being making the top rank more money. Where it’s ok and expected that people don’t even get cost of living increases and they have to beg for a small merit raise, which may or may not be given.
        *** walks down from soapbox ***

  41. Alex*

    A colleague told me about her direct report calculating the actually dollar amount increase after being notified of their salary increase.

    1. Adam V*

      Is that odd? I do that too – I break it down into a per-paycheck change as soon as I’m back at my desk.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Exactly. At one company I worked for we were given a separate sheet of paper during the review that said “you current salary is X, your review increase is Y%, therefore your new pay rate is $Z annually or $ABC per paycheck, effective with the pay period blah. You should see this new rate on [date]”

        Then we got an email when the paystubs with our new rates were available. It was a huge company, and all paystubs were electronic only and everyone’s raises went into effect on the same pay period. Even with lots of double and triple checking, typos and finger slips happened – and management wanted to deal with any problems with paychecks immediately, not have to take action when someone figured out 6 months later that they were given a 1.4% increase that should have been a 2.4% increase.

        1. Adam V*

          > At one company I worked for we were given a separate sheet of paper during the review that said “you current salary is X, your review increase is Y%, therefore your new pay rate is $Z annually or $ABC per paycheck, effective with the pay period blah. You should see this new rate on [date]”

          That’s awesome. More companies should do this.

      2. Jinx*

        I know several post-it notes in my stack have been dedicated to the percent-dollar calculations after my review. Is that not normal?

      1. neverjaunty*

        Right, what’s the punchline? I guess it might be a little odd if the employee whipped out a calculator on the spot.

        1. Adam V*

          Maybe odd, but still understandable, especially if (as with most of my reviews) the salary increase is the last part of the review conversation anyway.

    2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

      And? Why were they surprised the employee could do math and actually wanted to know what they were now being paid? Or that this was a cold calculation that destroyed their Lady Bountiful moment?

    3. Laurel Gray*

      Said colleague is kind of silly for even relaying this tidbit of info to you since it really should be a non-story. Was it supposed to be funny or odd that people care about the specifics of something as serious as a salary increase? Like I mentioned above, .05% of $50k is $250 and $20.83 a month spread over 12 months. I could see a manager being more comfortable giving out that percentage out verbally because on paper with the calculation it stinks.

  42. Dasha*

    OP, I think you need to start job searching and learn from this. Companies never owe you a raise and I think going into your next job you need to hold steady to that. Your company may or may not have been doing well but some companies do not give raises or promotions that’s just how it is. I think some of this is due to the economy/job market but I’d say it’s pretty common these days. Perhaps someone (parents, teachers, professors, friends, etc) gave you some bad advice and you felt like you were being taken advantage of. You live you learn, please read what Alison said and please go through the comments and go into your next role with a different attitude.

    1. SL #2*

      “That’s just how it is” should never be a reason to accept employers taking advantage of desperate employees. There were much more professional ways of handling the OP’s situation and her reaction was in no way professional, but telling her to, essentially, suck it up for the rest of her life, is not the answer.

      1. Dasha*

        I don’t think that’s what I’m saying at all. From reading it sounds like the OP may be fired or at the very least severely damaged her relationship with her manager. I think it’s important that if she’s new to the working world that she understands that this is the norm a lot of places and knowing that will help her handle things differently. By all means you can professionally ask for more money/raises/promotions/a new job/whatever but you shouldn’t expect it. From what I’ve seen the norm is jumping companies to get a decent raise.

          1. Dasha*

            This is very much the norm for most of the environments I’ve been in for the last 8 years and a lot of commenters have agreed/disagreed with this, if you read above. I think it just depends on your industry/job/company.

        1. SL #2*

          You abandon ship when the ship is sinking, not when it’s sailing along just fine. Similarly, you don’t leave your job to get a raise/promotion/whatnot because that’s just the way life is, you leave your job to get a raise/promotion/whatnot because your employer isn’t adhering to the norm (where raises and promotions are tied to cost of living and/or performance) and the situation isn’t working for you anymore.

          1. Dasha*

            Ok… personally, I don’t think OP’s boat is sailing fine right now. I also said it’s totally fine to ask for more but you can’t go in expecting raises and promotions, some employers simply don’t offer them.

            1. SL #2*

              Oh, I completely agree that OP’s ship is on fire and the sails are going down and she should start polishing that resume right away. Even if she patches things up with her manager, her reputation at that office will never be the same again. But employees having to leaving a company in order to get a raise or promotion is a reflection on the company too; they’ve been on fire long before OP ever got there.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Eh, maybe, maybe not. There are plenty of jobs, especially junior ones, where the intent is to hire someone for a few years and then have them move on, because the aren’t roles one step up that will be appropriate for their background. That’s especially true in smaller organizations, where to move up you might need a different skill set, background, or experience level. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing things that way, although it’s good to be transparent about it when hiring.

          2. Kyrielle*

            Not necessarily. In some industries and areas, existing employees are given low or no raises by most (maybe all, but that’s a strong statement) companies, but new employees must be hired at a reasonable increase rate to get them to leave their previous job. Hopping between employers every 2-3 years to get your ‘raise’ becomes a common job strategy then. (High tech / software engineer jobs, I’m looking at you.)

            Of course you’d love to work for the company that’s keeping its employees competitive, but if there are none or few of those companies, then there simply aren’t many jobs there to go around…especially since someone who *does* land one of those jobs is going to stay in it; those companies will have lower turnover and thus be hiring fewer positions.

  43. LQ*

    I think it is really important to get some practice in what to do when you get bad news. This won’t be the only bad news you get at work. (Unless you are magic, but chances are that isn’t true.) Finding some tools to deal with this in the moment is going to be crucial for your career. You’ll have projects taken away, you’ll have things that were awesome fail through no fault of yours, and worse because of you, you might get laid off, you might get shifted to a different team that sucks, you’ll probably get low or no raises at some point in the future.

    I think it is great that you asked how you can handle this more professionally. I do think it is a good idea to think of these as advocating for yourself, rather than standing up for yourself. Hopefully, your job isn’t you vs your employer (some jobs may be, but good ones don’t have to be) so thinking of it as advocating is important.

    One really good step for this is to find a way to say, thank you for this information, let me get back to you. Then you can go home and research this, see if in your field, your city, your job level/title that this is normal. Go back and say, “Hey, I really think that X.” When you’ve had time to cool off and get the frustration out and be able to take an advocacy position for yourself.

    All that said? Look for a new job, even if you’ve only had this one for a short time, you clearly aren’t happy here. Snapping at your boss, feeling severely undervalued. Go out and look to see if you can find someone who will pay what you think you are worth.
    You also mentioned that you thought of this as a foot in the door to this business? I’d look at other businesses, and look to try to get hired to a position you want, not that internal promotions and transfers don’t happen. But you’ll be happier if you are doing the job you want, not the job that might get you the job you want and think you’re ready for.

  44. Dan*

    FWIW, at my last job, I had two annual reviews with no raise. Yet, I’m not going to tell the OP to “be happy, it could be worse.” The truth is, if the OP is truly paid below market, then things could also be better — elsewhere. I’d encourage the OP to look, because some people really can do better on the open market.

    Said job with no raise for two years let me go before my fifth review, I went to a competitor with a comp package 25% better than what I had. New job gives consistent 2-3% raises, which do add up.

    1. Ad Astra*

      “Be happy, it could be worse” has never once helped anyone feel better about any problem. I’m sure of it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I actually use that to make myself feel better about situations all the time. (When I broke my foot and was immobile for months, I thought a lot about how grateful I’d be for the current situation if I’d had a much worse accident.)

        It’s not as easily effective when you’re directing it to someone else, of course. But being able to benchmark (is this really as bad as I think?) is pretty helpful if the person is being logical about it.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Me too. I think it’s a useful exercise to remind yourself about how good you’ve got it. Because there are people who are worse off but it’s easy to lose that perspective when you’re surrounded by people and things (i.e. advertising, tv shows, Facebook) where everyone is “better off” or at least fronting that they are.

          I was having this conversation with someone recently and she said that her mother always used to say “people in this country don’t know what poverty really is.” Her mother had lived in the front line area during the second world war in Hungary — she offered up the house to a German commander because she hoped that if a senior officer was living there it would mean that she and her children would be offered a degree of protection that others in the area weren’t. I can’t imagine having to make such a decision.

      2. Omne*

        It’s made me feel better after my apartment burned down in the middle of the night. I got the pets out and I wasn’t injured, as some were. The thought it could be worse made a huge difference to my outlook. I even joked about it to a reporter the next day when I went back to watch it still burning.

        1. Marcela*

          It is only if you say it to yourself. In any other case, it’s infuriating. And when my grandmother used to tell me that I needed to be grateful because other people have it worse than me, all I could think of was that she was telling me to get happiness from the suffering of other people. Ugh.

          1. A Bug!*

            I think that, also, the spirit in which the sentiment is offered is very relevant. Is the underlying message one of compassion or is it one of reproach, a demand for complacency?

            From the right person, and with the right intentions, “cheer up; it could be worse” is an expression of sympathy and an effort to ease the person’s misery. But a stranger, even one with the right intentions, is rarely the right person.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Not keen on being told to be happy- it’s kind of like that “Smile!” thing.

        However, “it could be worse” is a tool one can use to try to get perspective. A tool, as in one of many tools.

        The solid drone of “it could be worse” does nothing. Growing up, adults clung to that like it was a bar of gold. I often wondered if they realized that expression offered nothing in terms of a solution. It’s not instructive nor informative.

        I don’t have much use for the expression. I will tell myself “it could be worse” but I usually only say it when it’s really fn bad already. If someone says it, I can reluctantly agree with them but now I say out loud, “How does that phrase go into an action plan?” It doesn’t.

        I think it’s a crutch phrase, for use when people don’t know what else to say or they think the other person’s problems are minimal.
        It’s calmed me down a tiny bit once in a while, that’s about it.

        1. Observer*

          If someone says it, I can reluctantly agree with them but now I say out loud, “How does that phrase go into an action plan?” It doesn’t.

          Well, step one is to figure out how to NOT make it worse.

          That can sometimes lead to some other more positive steps. For instance “don’t mouth off to your boss” might be one of the things on the list. But Boss is a big league jerk, so that’s going to be hard. Hm.. Maybe I should look into finding another boss.

          Also, getting out of self pity makes it much more likely that you will have the head space to actually consider an action plan.

      4. Perse's Mom*

        My version of ‘it could be worse’ is ‘at least I’m not at Old Job.’ Old Job drove me into awful depression to the point of suicidal thoughts. So maybe ‘it could be worse’ isn’t helpful for someone external to offer as sympathy or encouragement, but it can absolutely work on yourself.

      5. Mike B.*

        It’s not a bad adage for things that are beyond your (or anyone’s) power to change, as with Alison’s example.

        Very little in the professional world falls into this category. Your employer might not be 100% at liberty to pay you whatever it would like, but your salary wasn’t etched on stone tablets. Nor was your employment contract. They could probably pay you more if they really wanted to, and you can always look for something better. Simply accepting the situation is not helpful either to your financial profile or to your sense of self-worth.

  45. Anonymous Educator*

    The OP’s response was extremely out of line. Obviously, she should be looking for a new job, but I doubt her boss will be a great reference for her. And if she’s only six months in (I don’t know that for sure, but if it’s the first performance review of first job straight out of college, it’s likely), she’s going to have a tough time finding a new job.

    That said, I think a lot of people are missing this line from the letter: the company boasted their “best year to date,” and this one: the worst part was the way my manager conveyed it, with an enthusiastic “congratulations!” and saying this is the best raise he’s ever given to someone “at my level.”

    Yes, many of us more seasoned workers have experienced salary cuts, salary freezes, abysmal “raises,” etc. Some people are sharing stories about when their companies weren’t as profitable.

    The OP’s boss, however, is in a position in which the company is boasting a best year to date (maybe that’s spin for “We made $5 more in profit than in previous years”—who knows?), and the boss isn’t saying “Sorry, this is all we could give you, but I really went to bat for you.” The boss is saying “Congratulations!”

    Alison’s absolutely right that we don’t know anything about this company. Maybe they are just super stingy and a 0.5% raise is considered a huge raise there. But you can’t really compare “Our company had a tough year, and I went to bat for this employee, and this is all I could do” to “Our company has had the best year yet, and my boss is saying this is the best raise he’s ever given.”

    Still, in situations in which you’re getting that kind of mixed messaging, you never say anything like “Do you think I’m stupid?” That’s just not going to get you anywhere. You suss out if this is normal for the culture and decide if you want to stay—keep plugging away… and if you think you can get something better, leave.

  46. Chriama*

    Lots of people have talked about the raise, so I want to talk about the OP’s reaction. An aggressive outburst, especially in the context of a reasonable conversation, is a huge red flag for me. Story time:

    I used to tutor at a college that had a lot of students doing high school upgrading, and my funding was specifically for students with learning disabilities. I remember working with one guy, and in the middle of explaining a concept to him he burst out ‘you don’t need to talk to me like I’m dumb!’ and stormed off. I think there was some swearing involved. A few days later he came back, I think he apologized but a few minutes into that session he angrily stormed off again. I didn’t see him the rest of the time I was working there.

    The point of this story is this: OP, I can understand why you were frustrated and unhappy with the situation, but if we’re having a normal conversation and you have an aggressive emotional outburst, it’s going to significantly color my perception of you. I won’t feel comfortable having important conversations with you anymore. What if I need to address a performance issue with you and you erupt again? Someone who lashes out with hostility when frustrated is not someone I feel comfortable having around me. If I were your boss I’d be watching you closely and probably coming up with a plan to let you go.

    So what does this mean for you, OP? I think you need to make a sincere apology in the vein Alison recommended. Not just ‘sorry for my outburst, I was mad’, but show that you understand it was an incredibly inappropriate response (again, not the frustration but how you expressed it) and that you’re committed to making sure that it doesn’t happen again. And then, **make sure** that it doesn’t come close to happening again. Maybe that will save your job (if I were your boss, it might), but you should also start job-searching anyway. Whether you get let go or leave of your own accord, you want that apology on record so when a future reference-checker tracks down your boss his last memory isn’t “he had an inappropriately hostile outburst and then gave a half-hearted apology” but rather “he reacted badly to a frustrating situation but was appropriately apologetic and didn’t let it happen again”.

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Yes, and maybe have a look at if this a character trait. It could have been just a bad day, but if it’s something you tend to do, there are tons of ways to work on this – it will really help you in the future.

  47. MaryMary*

    When I was a brand new manager, I had a very similar situation with one of my direct reports. It was his first performance evaluation (and my first time giving an eval). He was doing really well – the most promising new hire I’d seen in quite a while. The company had not had a good year, so I’d had to fight really hard to get my report a 3% raise. It was a higher percentage than I’d gotten, but my report was working really hard and I wanted him to feel rewarded and stay with the company. I was so proud when it came time to do his compnsation review, but his reaction was pretty similar to OP’s (less rude, but he was clearly Not Happy). Luckily, my manager was in the meeting with me (since it was my first), and he was able to fix some of my mistakes.

    1. I had not set expectations well. OldJob wanted the perfomance conversation to be separate from the pay conversation. So we had a great performance conversation, I gave him rave reviews and told him how much we valued his contribution and wanted him to stay with the company. He took that to mean a giant raise was coming – like $10,000+. Enough to make a difference in his lifestyle. I came back and told him he was getting $1,200 more, or $50 per pay. He was young (I was young), and I had never mentioned what a typical raise was, or how much the raise budget was this year.

    2. I didn’t give context. 3% was a big raise that year, and my manager and I had to fight to get it approved. The average raise was 1.5%-2%, and a lot of people got 0%. I spent a lot of time talking to my direct report about his successes, but didn’t mention that the business as a whole had not had a great year. If the business isn’t doing well (or sometimes, even if the business is doing well but your section is not), it will be reflected in the compensation budget.

    3. I didn’t talk about other rewards and next steps. Because he was working hard and performing well, we wanted to fast track him towards a promotion. The next role did have a significantly higher starting salary, and would be bonus eligible. Even without a promotion, we could offer him the ability to work remotely or have a flexible schedule.

    I’m not completely defending OP’s manager, canceling meetings and not being responsive is not appropriate. But these kind of performance and comp conversations are hard, and sometimes the ones you think will be positive end up being the most difficult.

    1. Ad Astra*

      This is a great breakdown about what went wrong in your situation, and what likely went wrong in OP’s situation. Why did OldJob want to keep reviews and raises in separate conversations? Seems like it would be beneficial to keep those two things closely linked in employees’ minds, so they equate good performance with monetary reward.

      1. MaryMary*

        OldJob wanted the performance and comp conversations separate for situations exactly like this one – where someone was a strong performer but would receive a mediocre or worse raise. I think the theory is that the employee would be pleased about their performance even if they were not pleased about their pay? It never made sense to me to de-emphasize the link between performance and compensation. In practice, the conversations were pretty closely linked anyways. I had managers schedule one meeting, go through my performance review, and say something like “And now for our completely separate compensation dicussion!”

        1. MaryMary*

          Oh, I remembered the other reason. Sometimes the comp budget was finalized late, or there were negotiations on how the budget should be divided going down to the 11th hour. Separating out the performance and pay conversations allowed managers to have a performance conversation (which in theory is a more in depth, longer, “more important” discussion) in November or very early December, even if they couldn’t have the pay conversation right before year end payroll was processed. Happy Holidays, you get a 3% raise! If your manager set expectations well, you could have a rough idea what to expect $-wise instead of being unsure of both your performance and your comp at the end of the year.

          1. Mike B.*

            My current employer does this for the above reasons. It’s unfortunate, because we *do* pay competitively, and our top performers are rewarded well.

    2. Dan*

      And even if the conversation itself is easy, you have to keep your eye open to figure out who is smiling to your face but quietly getting his resume out there.

      In some ways, an obviously disgruntled employee is doing you the favor of expressing his dissatisfaction. I’m not defending the OP’s outburst, but I really would be weary of those who get small raises and just smile.

    3. JAM*

      Yes, this is key. The year I had my raise freakout, I had reorganized an entire department, collected records amounts, and converted us to paperless saving huge amounts of money in file storage and paper costs. My bosses gave me record high reviews, told me they were fast tracking me for a promotion and I’d see it reflected in a pay raise. It was a government job so when the budget was approved they advertised that the average raise would be 4% with some as high as 8%. I expected to see between 4 and 8% (around $1500/year) and instead ended up with 1% (or about $200/year). I was devastated.

      My bosses hadn’t considered that my pay range was not in a merit raise year and so I would only receive the COL raise to all employees and oops, they couldn’t afford the true inflation rate. Under the expectation I’d be getting more, I had agreed to take on more work to help my promotion chances. When I talked to them about it after getting the bad news, they basically told me to suck it up, it was out of their control, and here’s even more work for you to do and we won’t necessarily have the funds for that promotion we talked about. Within 6 months I was gone with a higher paying offer of 50% more. I would never have even started the job search if they’d been honest with me or had actually promoted me. I’m typically much happier at the new job but I really hate looking back and seeing how they handled that process.

  48. Rachael*

    OP, there are going to be many, many years where you may see this .05% again. I have seen it and been very disappointed, but the manager is trying to stay within the budget given to them. I’ve had .05% enthusiastically waved in my face like it’s a great thing, but I thanked them and moved on (all the while planning on how to better my performance for the next year).

    What is interesting is the manager’s response. I know that a lot of managers advocate for their employees with raises. I’m wondering if the reason he had such an emotional response to his employee’s ungratefullness is that he was working with what he was given and DID give as much as he could. I could imagine that he was excited for the “high” raise that he was going to give despite the overall budget and the position of the OP. It’s like a person going out and finding what they thought was the perfect gift for someone and that person craps all over it. Yes, it is not professional, but I wonder if he just took it personally that the OP was so disrespectful.

    1. CM*

      Yes, when I read this, I imagined that the manager really went out of his way to advocate for the OP because normally such a new employee wouldn’t be eligible for a raise at all, and then got so upset when the raise was rudely thrown back in his face.

  49. Sharkey*

    This reads to me like the OP hadn’t been in the position for a year yet. Furthermore, what the OP heard as the manager stating that they don’t normally give that amount to “someone at your level” might have actually been something more along the lines “to someone as new as you” which translated to something different to the OP who was viewing that interaction through the lens of “they’re trying to trick me and they think I’m naive”.

    If you think .5% is lousy, imagine a situation where a company requires a person to work a full year before providing a raise which is pretty reasonable since the OP had a recent chance to negotiate the salary and ultimately accepted what was offered. This person doesn’t fit the criteria for a raise, but in good faith and appreciation for the work that has been done, the company throws a little something their way to give their pay a bit of a boost. If you had done something sort of out the ordinary for an employee and they gave you the response that OP gave? I’d be rethinking all sorts of things about that person.

    It may not be the scenario, but it’s certainly plausible and one of the reasons I think the OP and others in that situation would do best by listening and asking questions rather than jumping to an adversarial role. I commend the OP for being open enough to explore their role in things which is why I think the OP should attempt to use the script Alison provided. We all make mistakes, but you have to own them and move forward.

    1. Ad Astra*

      To be honest, I think working for a company that makes new hires wait a whole year for a decent raise (even 2%) would be far preferable to receiving a .5% raise after six months. It’s also possible that OP was a December grad and has been with the company a year, but your guess is as good as mine there.

      1. Mike B.*

        There’s a huge difference between “we would recognize your great work with more money if we could, but our policies don’t allow it until the next cycle,” and “here’s some loose change to show you how much we appreciate you!” The disappointment with the money–and dissonance with how it’s being described–is not remotely offset by the actual dollar increase.

  50. boop*

    I had a retail job once where employees got raises and I never knew how to react because they deal them out in dollars/hour rather than percentages or annual salary, so it sounds like nothing. 15 cents an hour! Yaaaayyyy?

    But I’ve been at my current job for 8 years and if I want a raise, I wait for the government to raise the minimum wage. Hey, it happens.

  51. ravi*

    Ouch. Hard to repair a relationship after that kind of outburst. I won’t pretend to know all the details, but it seems your manager (rightfully in my opinion) questions your professionalism.

    Your first mistake was the outburst. Even if they CUT your pay, that’s no reason for an outburst. You’ll have to live with the consequences of that to your relationship. Any worker/employer relationship is a business relationship. It works as long as both sides are satisfied (they pay an amount for your time and you accept or do better elsewhere). If you are dissatisfied, you certainly should let the current company know what you would request… and hopefully you have some data to back up what is a competitive amount. Even if the market is at $50k, but they cannot/will not offer the same and only are willing to offer $44k, then you can always take your talents elsewhere.

    Hopefully this is an early lesson that outbursts aren’t rewarded. Even if you go back and try to (professionally) communicate your desire for a higher salary, they may not be willing if your boss is not questioning whether you are a good fit.

    1. Mike B.*

      I certainly wouldn’t blame an employee for having a brief verbal outburst when told that her pay was going to be *cut*. If she’s barely making ends meet, you’ve just thrown her world into a tailspin–if you hold that against her, particularly if she apologizes once she’s regained her composure, you’re a pretty lousy manager.

      A disappointing or nonexistent raise is something you have to be prepared for, if not something that you should necessarily just accept.

  52. Anonymous Educator*

    I had kind of the opposite experience with my first grown-up job—I wasn’t expecting raises at all (except for cost-of-living increases), but typical raises at the org. were 10%. There was one year the org. was going to do less than 10%, and my co-workers were outraged, so the management gave in and gave the usual 10% raise.

    In all the jobs I’ve had, I’ve rarely seen organizations truly open to feedback and change (“anonymous” surveys don’t usually lead to anything actually improving), so my best way to deal with being unhappy somewhere is to leave. I’d recommend the same.

  53. GigglyPuff*

    “Best year to date” doesn’t mean anything without context, and maybe the OP doesn’t have all that info either. Could mean, since the recession, for the first time ever, or in a long time, they’re no longer in the red, or since the manager’s been working there. Maybe they’re a newer company and finally gaining traction. Having a good year for companies, doesn’t always mean it’s enough to trickle down to the employees.

    Or I could be wrong, and there’s already enough other good advice.

    I just really wanted to point out that there are so many meanings behind what the manager was implying, and maybe they explained them to the OP, maybe not.

    OP, you just got to weight all the factors when it comes to management decisions and whether it’s something you could reasonably push back on, and I’m not sure you did (at least from the context of the letter).

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, as I mentioned above, that could be company morale spin for “We made $5 more than our last record year, which was ten years ago.”

      I think an appropriate response would have been to just genuinely ask, “It sounds as if you did your best for me. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I’m new to this and just want to get a perspective—what’s typical for a raise for someone in my position? How ‘best’ a year was our best year?” and even then not immediately right after finding out.

      Or honestly I don’t even know if I’d start by talking to the boss directly about it. Maybe get a feel from my co-workers about what kind of raises are typical in the company.

  54. Bob*

    I agree that OP got a terrible raise but that doesn’t excuse the reaction. If I was dating someone, said something that was a little out of line and they blew up at me, I’d take that as a sign I’m probably in the wrong relationship. It’s not about whose right or wrong, it’s about how OP handled the response. And OP was WAY out of line. If I said that to my current manager, she may very well pick up a box, walk to my desk and start filling it.

    On a side note, I do expect my manager’s tone regarding my raise to match the amount. My company’s top raise is 2.5% which is close to inflation most years. I can appreciate I am getting the top possible raise but I still expect my manager to comment that she would like to give me more and would if it were within her control. That goes a long way. 2.5% is only acceptable because I know for a fact it is the top possible raise. Some of my co-workers get 1.5% or 2% and that would bug me.

    The tone should also reflect the current market. During the recession, it was common to hear that you should be grateful for 1-2% (I typically got no raises during the recession). But the IT market at least is super hot in many places (pretty much 0% unemployment in my city) so a comment now that I should be grateful for my 2.5% would have me job hunting. I stay because other aspects of my job balance out the salary but telling me I should be happy to have a job (heard often during the recession) would be a grave mistake.

    1. Sue Wilson*

      I don’t think dating is the right analogy here. If you say something out of line, and don’t expect your partner to get angry, that’s pretty unhealthy. Here there’s a duty of professionalism that isn’t presence in relationships.

  55. Karina Jameson*

    I haven’t read all the responses and while I think the employee REALLY blew it with the response, I am even more angry at the corporation. It’s a crappy raise indeed, and yet another example of how companies treat their people as disposable minions.

    1. Xarcady*

      I know retail is different from office work, but I got a .5% raise in 2015 and it was one of the highest the store gave. All 45 cents an hour of it.

      To put this in perspective, some people got a 13 cent per hour raise. I think the average was between 20 and 25 cents.

      People have started to call out for shorter shifts because with the cost of gas, they say less than 4-5 hours doesn’t pay enough to make coming in worthwhile.

      And they wonder why they can’t keep good staff. I’m only there until I find a permanent, full-time job. Then I’m out of there in a flash.

      “Disposable minions.” That’s exactly what it feels like.

      1. Elsajeni*

        I think you may have miscalculated — yours sounds more like a 5% raise, ten times what the OP got. I make around $20/hour, and an 0.5% raise on that would be 10 cents per hour, less than what you’re calling out as the lowest raise your coworkers got.

  56. Hilary Faye*

    If OP does start looking for a new job, as many here have suggested, how would you recommend handling the “why are you leaving your current job” question? I would think explaining the low salary/raises might turn off some prospective employers and it doesn’t sound like OP has been in the job that long which might also raise some concerns.

    1. Biff*

      I would actually potentially say just that. “I came on with Cheapskate Firm at a lower salary, with the understanding that I’d be brought up to market rates pending my performance review. Despite knocking it out of the park, they reneged on the promise and obviously, I need to find market-rate work now.”

      1. Tuckerman*

        I wouldn’t hire someone who offered that explanation. Also, based on the info in the letter, it doesn’t sound like they reneged on anything. They never said they’d bring OP up to market rate. They never discussed market rate for someone with his/her experience in that position.
        I would prefer to hear, “It wasn’t a great fit. I did some research about your company. I was excited about xyz and I thought I would I would fit in well here because of abc.”

        1. Biff*

          I can completely appreciate that my approach will not work for some companies. In fact, on account that I have picked poor fits for myself several times, I actually make a point of dropping a few phrases or tidbits in interviews that I know will NOT fly in workplaces where I wouldn’t be successful (but wouldn’t cause an eye to bat in the right office.) This approach might not work for everyone.

        2. Ultraviolet*

          I agree with this, especially if OP can frame the new job as such an exciting opportunity they couldn’t pass it up. I wouldn’t mention salary at all in any event.

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      Just mention that the company is having financial difficulties and that you thought it was prudent to look for a better opportunity.

  57. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    This may be unpopular, but upon some thought, I’m with the manager on this.

    Regarding the raise: we don’t know how things work at the company. Per OP: “But the worst part was the way my manager conveyed it, with an enthusiastic “congratulations!” and saying this is the best raise he’s ever given to someone “at my level.”

    OP is a recent college grad with less than a year of service. I can certainly believe at that entry-level status that this could, indeed, be the best raise Manager has been able to get for someone “at that level”.

    But I’m setting that aside. The raise is irrelevant to me; the issue is that OP didn’t like Manager’s message and handled it in a profoundly unprofessional manner.

    In this situation, I would do what this manager did. If a direct report responded to me in that fashion, I would decide then that I don’t want that person on my team. I would initiate termination proceedings. That might take time; I would also cancel any 1:1s or development time and speak to that employee only when absolutely required.

    Manager gave feedback at the time (“disrespectful and ungrateful”). What more is there really to say? And since I know I’m firing this person, I will pour my energy into those employees who are professional and whom I wish to retain. Why waste any time on someone who clearly holds no respect for me, cannot control emotions appropriately, and will be gone as soon as Sally from HR comes back from Aruba?

    1. Adam V*

      > Why waste any time on someone who clearly holds no respect for me, cannot control emotions appropriately, and will be gone as soon as Sally from HR comes back from Aruba?

      Because until Sally is back from Aruba, while they’re still on your team, it’s your job?

      What happens if, before Sally comes back, your employee has opened some sort of case against you (or against someone else at the company – something that prevents you from firing them because it’ll look like retaliation) where HR has certain steps they have to follow, so you’re stuck with them for several months until everything is worked out? Are you going to refuse to talk to them or meet with them for the entire time?

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        If the employee opens a case, if Sally hits the Powerball Wedsnesday and decides to stay in Aruba, if whatever happens – that changes the situation, therefore changing the evaluation.

        As far as my job goes, I mentor and develop those who express an interest in doing so, I invest my coaching time into those who have potential yet need training or improvement, and I oversee the workload of the entire team. I’m not advocating responsibility – note I said I wouldn’t speak to the employee unless it was absolutely required – managing his quality and performance fall into that bucket. 1:1s, development and training opportunities, emails about future projects, or new goals don’t fall into that bucket.

        Now, let’s say something changes. Of course I still manage this employee. I’ve doing that all along at a bar minimum. Do I reconsider other activities? It depends on the context of the information and/or that person’s behavior and whether they demonstrate any change. I can say that in the immediate aftermath the unprofessional outburst, the apologies, and the subsequent behaviors would factor very heavily into the next assignments I give that employee based on the interpersonal skills required for that assignment. The employee would have to show me real change to help me reframe my new perspective.

        1. Adam V*

          In one hypothetical world, OP continues to get 1:1s, goals for the year, the same development and training opportunities, etc. In another, OP gets none of that.

          In the first, the rest of team sees “you get treated the same, even if you have an outburst, until the day you’re walked out the door”. In the other, they see “if you dare mouth off to me, even if you apologize afterwards, you’re on an island until I can get you fired”.

          Which one is likely to get you more honest and open feedback from the rest of the team in the future?

          As a manager, I think it’s your job to treat everyone the same, even if behind the scenes you’re working to get someone fired.

          1. LQ*

            I think both of those are bad. If I as a fellow employee see that Jack calls the boss stupid and nothing happens I’m going to wonder if I should start job hunting because once Jack calls the boss stupid and nothing happens what’s to stop Jack from calling me stupid?

            It would also make me really unsure if I was going to get fired at any moment for something I wasn’t sure I’d done. (Like say the not correctly thanking the correct person for the gift. If I thank the wrong person cause the card got mixed up, or anything would I get fired with no warning?)

            1. Adam V*

              In a normal situation, you don’t [shouldn’t] get terminated without cause, but those conversations are between you, your boss, and HR. Your boss sits you down and says “you didn’t thank me for the gift (!) so this is your first warning.” The rest of the team doesn’t need to know that you’ve been disciplined. If it’s something public (Jack calling the boss stupid in front of everyone), then perhaps Jack could be asked / required to apologize publicly, but the right thing to do is for your boss to call him into the office and tell him behind closed doors that he did something wrong and that it could affect his future employment. (It’s possible Jack could immediately get fired for the outburst, but if it’s considered minor, or it’s his first offense, a verbal warning *could* be the only punishment he gets.)

              The rest of the team shouldn’t get to know where in the termination process an employee is until it’s over, though. All a manager should really say about Jack’s outburst publicly is something like “that sort of behavior is not acceptable and we expect it to not happen again”.

              If Jack walks in tomorrow and calls you stupid, the boss calls him in, fires him, and tells the team “Jack is no longer with the company” or “Jack has been dismissed for violations of company guidelines”.

          2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

            “In one hypothetical world, OP continues to get 1:1s, goals for the year, the same development and training opportunities, etc. In another, OP gets none of that.”

            I didn’t say that, Adam, and please don’t put words in my mouth. I said I would continue to manage at a bare minimum and consider what other activities are worth adding based on the change the employee demonstrates. That is much different than what you claim I said. In both worlds, the OP gets nothing more than job and performance management until the employee demonstrates they have learned something that convinces me to halt my termination efforts.

            In both situations, my interaction changes with the employee – of course it does! How could it not. Employees will see that. However, it’s not appropriate for me to speak about any actions regarding the disrespectful employee with anyone else that I manage. I must be aware of the perception that is projected, but I owe no one an explanation as to what disciplinary or termination actions are in process.

            As for what other employees conclude – hopefully, they know nothing about the outburst. It’s my responsibility to report when someone is let go. If my relationship with the fired employee changes before termination, yet the other employees have the same level of engagement, they’ll see a pattern, yes, but realize that they are not in imminent danger. If the team did witness or overhear the outburst, then they know the catalyst (and I would presume also realize they are not in imminent danger).

            1. Adam V*

              >> “In one hypothetical world, OP continues to get 1:1s, goals for the year, the same development and training opportunities, etc. In another, OP gets none of that.”

              > I didn’t say that, Adam, and please don’t put words in my mouth.

              You said:

              > I would also cancel any 1:1s or development time and speak to that employee only when absolutely required.

              > I said I wouldn’t speak to the employee unless it was absolutely required – managing his quality and performance fall into that bucket. 1:1s, development and training opportunities, emails about future projects, or new goals don’t fall into that bucket.

              I’m going to drop this now. Neither of us are going to convince the other.

  58. Tuckerman*

    Actions speak louder than words. Be extra polite, and produce great work. I think you can come back from this. I supervised an employee who got upset with some feedback and reacted inappropriately, telling me she wanted to “cuss me out.” I brought her into a conference room and had a conversation with her about what professional behavior entails. From that day forward she was one of the best employees on my team. It was very cool to see her grow from that interaction. I realized that she really just didn’t know what was appropriate, but when she did understand she was quick to adapt and excel.

  59. Laura C.*

    When I read the first lines of OP’s letter: “I had my first performance review at my first job out of college,” I must admit that my immediate visceral reaction as a 39-year old was “oh no, not another entitled Gen X’er.” And his outburst did his generation no credit in this regard. Time to get my rifle and walker and yell at the kids to get off mah lawn…

    But joking aside: I agree with the advise in the comments that (1) you’d better be looking for another job cus this bridge is BURNT; and (2) don’t ever do that again. Part of adulthood/emotional maturity is to reduce outbursts; think your thoughts, be entitled to your feelings but always control the manifestations.

    For example: my sibling, 10 years my senior, had the same habit and was college educated. Got fired from more than 1 job because of her attitude. Me, not formally college educated, have never been fired; only laid off. Got a job in a year, versus her 2 years+.

    The other issue is that OP handled it emotionally instead of rationally. Does OP have rare, in demand skills? If so, did he/she do research on Payscale.com to justify their argument that it was a low and not market-level raise? You can’t argue in professional life based on what you feel you deserve; build a case rationally.

    Attitude is everything, and the less sense of entitlement you convey, the more success can come your way.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I must admit that my immediate visceral reaction as a 39-year old was “oh no, not another entitled Gen X’er.”

      I’m not really one generalizing about entire generations, but to be a little pedantic, technically you, as a 39-year-old are the Gen X’er, and the OP is a Millennial.

    2. grasshopper*

      If you are 39 right now then you’re Gen X.

      Baby Boomers – born between 1946-1964
      Gen X – born between 1965-1984
      Millennial – born between 1982-2004

      Years are very approximate, because they are defined more by social events (post-war, availability of birth control, the birth of the internet etc.) This also demonstrates why this kind of labeling might be good for entire cohorts of people, but isn’t so great for individuals.

      1. Dan*

        I always find generational definitions amusing. I was born in late ’79 (some definitions start the millennial generation at ’80) and my brother was born in early ’82, making him a millennial by any definition. My brother and I certainly don’t come from two distinct generations.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Hence the overlap in years in grasshopper’s post. ’82 is in both the Gen X and Millennial generations.

            1. Blurgle*

              And it can differ from place to place.

              I think generations are just a marketing scam, like “ionic technology” in hair dryers.

  60. Schnapps*

    That’s what we call a Career-Limiting Maneuver (CLM) here. I’d be polishing up my resume.

    I think you really damaged your boss’ trust in you and that’s going to take a long time to repair. A sincere apology where you accept that you were wrong, and explain the impact, is a good place to start. Just don’t expect things to return to normal overnight.

  61. The Carrie*

    Because we can only offer limited raises, I always start out with the raise when the person is having a really good review. I don’t want to tell them “you are so awesome!” BUT, this is your raise. I just explain that it is what I can do.

    It’s the outburst that is really troubling here, not being upset over the raise. Obviously it would have been better to discuss it in a more calm, professional, and rational matter.

  62. FD*

    Ouch. As others have said, you can’t salvage this. You’re going to need to move on.

    Here are some things that I’ve found to be true for me so far, and which may be helpful to you in setting expectations for the future. For context, I entered the workforce around 2011, and got my first professional job around 2013.

    1. Entry level jobs often give very small raises, if they give them at all. The reason for this is that they assume you’ll get raises by moving up in an organization. There’s less motivation to give raises for existing entry level employees, because they tend to be less skilled and more replaceable. Personally, I find this a little shortsighted–most jobs involve some skill and great workers always have much more output than weak workers.

    2. In your first 5-10 years, you’ll probably move jobs a bit more than you will later on. Talking to my peers, a good rule of thumb is 1-2 years for entry level, 2-3 years for mid-level. It’s nice if you can start in a place at entry level and then do a couple of years in a mid-level job before moving on.

    3. In general, you’ll get your biggest raises when you go between jobs. This is because companies–IMO, foolishly–often won’t give large raises to existing employees. This means that you’re best off planning your moves strategically, and keeping options open.

    4. I’m a hard skills person, and this was really hard for me to learn, but it’s generally true. In your career, building relationships will often trump skill. Relationship building isn’t enough by itself, but moderately skilled employees with great relationships often progress faster and father than highly skilled employees with poor relationships. This means keeping relationships open at all levels–managers, peers, subordinates (when you have them), clients (if you have them). You’re always ‘on stage’, and how you behave matters.

    Some examples/corollaries to this:

    1. I was able to negotiate a $0.25/hour raise at my first career job, which was a front desk position. That might not sound like much, but that was a 2.4% raise, when their average raise was around 1%, if that. I was able to obtain that because I kept records of positive comment cards from customers and the last six months of metrics they used to score how we took reservations. If I’d let my manager just do a regular review, I probably would have gotten the standard raise, but because I came prepared to show why I was an excellent employee, I was able to get more.

    2. It is possible, in some cases, to get a major raise when moving internally–I got a 20% raise at my last job when I took on substantially more responsibilities. Part of the key was that I came prepared–showing how I’d made them money in my position so far, and demonstrating my plan for the next six months. However, most of what I had already accomplished to make them money had to do with my relationships: I was successful in building a relationship with a notoriously difficult manager, as well as with clients, who were happy to send referrals my way.

    3. I have a hot temper, and sometimes, it’s so tempting to send a scathing email. One trick I’ve used is to compose an email and save it as a draft (or save it in a notepad). I then wait until the next day to look over it and see if I still think it’s appropriate. It makes me feel better to express my irritation, but it often saves me from putting my foot in my mouth.

    Everybody makes mistakes, and frankly, it’s lucky for you that it was early in your career. Honestly, best of luck in the future, and I hope you find a new job soon.

  63. Biff*

    Honestly, I think the manager really screwed the pooch here. I realize that “Do you think I’m stupid” was not the best response, but this manager sounds like a grade-a jerk to me.

    1. He pumps up his employee for a “BIG RAISE” for apparently an entire meeting, before revealing it is less than 500 bucks. For the whole year. Probably on par with 12-15 cents an hour, if that. (Compare if you did this to a child — you got a big box, set it under the tree and told the kid that it was going to be the best present that they could ask for, and it turns out to be a pack of gum. Everyone would be right in considering it to be reprehensible, sadistic and mean.)
    2. When his employee has a fairly predictable reaction to being pumped up and then dumped on their kiester, the manager behaves very petulantly. Any manager who is managing very new entry level employees should have the ability and grace to handle early-career faux paus way better than this guy did.
    3. Despite the manager behaving childishly, his employee has offered him multiple apologies which he won’t even acknowledge.

    I realize many people think that the OP is making a lot of assumptions at the end of the letter, but I think they are dead on. And even if they aren’t, surely anyone behaving as this manager has must realize that such behavior garners speculation as to why they thought they could behave like that. If I had been in their shoes, I’d have been sick with worry that my boss was, in fact, a wimp, was selling me a line, but telling me what he really felt by playing a nasty trick on me.

    In a non-retail, non-minimum wageish setting, .05% is really insulting as a raise, and should be given as a bonus if it is meant to buoy employee morale or longevity.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you’re doing the OP a disservice by calling that a “predictable reaction.” Asking your manager “do you think I’m stupid?” is far from a predictable or reasonable reaction (so much so that I think I actually gasped out loud when I first read the letter), and it’s not helpful to the OP to encourage her to think that it is.

      1. Green*

        Yes. The INTERNAL “gut” reaction may have been predictable, but expressing that externally was shocking.

        1. fposte*

          I would have a really tough time coming back from that with an employee, to be honest. It’s so hair-trigger contemptuous.

    2. Observer*

      In addition to what Alison said, I’d point out a few things.

      1. There is actually no evidence that the manager “pumped her for a big raise”.

      2. The OP is an ADULT. Part of being an adult is modulating reactions.

      3. No one is making assumptions about the OP’s assumptions, because the OP is clear about them. She makes it very clear that in her view there are only two possible reasons for this raise. And, that is simply NOT true. While both of those things are POSSIBLE, they clearly are not the only possible interpretations.

      4. Based on what the OP is saying, it’s quite possible that her apologies have fallen into the “no-apology apology” category. She says that her reaction “was not the best”, but insists that the raise was terrible and can’t any other possible reason for such a raise, and doesn’t get why her boss considers her disrespectful. If that’s coming through, I can imagine her manager just thinking “OK, enough already.”

      1. Ultraviolet*

        Yeah, if the apologies aren’t acknowledging the seriousness of the problem, they’re probably doing more harm than good. Even if they’re sincere rather than nonpologies.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      (Compare if you did this to a child — you got a big box, set it under the tree and told the kid that it was going to be the best present that they could ask for, and it turns out to be a pack of gum. Everyone would be right in considering it to be reprehensible, sadistic and mean.)

      But you know when you’re doing that that it is mean (or at the very least, not kind) you are doing it for the reaction and you know that the reaction is not going to be a good one — that is after all why you are doing it. That and for the YouTube/America’s Funniest Home Videos bragging rights.

      This manager either knew that what they were offering was not all that great and was shining up that turd… or more likely, they thought it was The. Best. Raise. Ever! And from his perspective, it was, after all he said so. I wonder if the shoe had been on the other foot, what his reaction would have been? Because I really wonder what their work history has been like if they think offering anyone a .5% raise is amazeballs. If I had to go into a meeting and tell someone that they either weren’t getting a raise or were getting a really low one, I would think that would be something I would take some time to explain to them all the reasons before I told them what the amount was, maybe even before laying on the high praise (I don’t know, so far that hasn’t been something I’ve had to do).

      As others have said, no it was not a good/adult/professional response by the OP. But after the big build-up, I can totally see how OP felt like the rug was pulled out from under her, that it was a big bait-and-switch, that she had been given a big build up for the best dessert ever and it was… a fun-size Mars bar that had been cut in half when she had been expecting a big slice of 3 layer chocolate mousse cake from the best bakery in town. The natural thought is “do you think that I’m so stupid that I won’t notice that this is half a fun-size Mars bar?” and if it’s not your boss, you would probably say that. You would look around for Alan Funt and his camera. Or Ashton Kutcher if you’re younger. Because it’s *got* to be a joke. If you’re not used to working in a professional environment — and a lot of workplaces are much less formal now — it’s not surprising that you would forget that you can’t talk to your boss the same way that you would to a friend playing a prank on you.

      IMO, they both didn’t handle this well. But you live and you learn and hope that you don’t make the same mistakes again.

      1. newlyhr*

        nobody knows what was in the manager’s mind and I don’t think it’s very helpful to speculate on his motives or reasons for saying what he did. For all we know, he got told what to say and hated saying it as much as the employee hated hearing it.

        All we can do is control what is within our own ability to control, and that is our own responses. Learning how to do that will help people in the workplace more than just about anything else I can think of.

  64. Workfromhome*


    Its a rookie mistake. I get it. New to the workforce and the OP likely realizes the error and regrets it. That said I’d be looking for a new job. The best think you can probably hope for is to get get back to a point where they won’t kill you with bad references in the future. Starting off your career like that is going to put you so far behind on the promotion track you are going to to have to work so incredibly hard to get over this its probably not worth it.
    Better to start somewhere else clean where getting a 98/100 in your first year will but you on the fast track not digging out of a hole.

    While I 100% agree the OP made a mistake I think that the way many people are handling the raise conversation in to days difficult climate (from a management side) is really crap and that includes the OP’s manager.

    The fact that 0.5% may be higher than before or higher than others doesn’t change the fact that its less than cost of living.
    I’ve been through being in a job for years with outstanding recommendations and highest rating anyone had ever gotten only to get 2% (you are lucky because others got nothing) or ) (sorry no raises for anyone this year)
    At lest I was prepped for the facts of why the raises were the way they were and that my boss was not happy about the news.

    But other times we were given some kind of BS excuse like “We lost the X account so no raises” well we lost the X account yesterday and the raise cycle closed 2 months ago all the decisions and paperwork had been done for weeks so we all knew it was BS. Those are the kind of things that make people say stupid things like the OP did.

    When we got 0% raises despite being a top performer and us being a large corporation that was acquiring others I was asked “How do you feel about this”? I like the OP wanted to say “Do you think I’m stupid stop feeding us stories we all know aren’t true”. The best thing you can do is say nothing. It won’t change anything and it won’t even make you feel better.

  65. anonbom*

    I was in the middle of a job search and had a verbal offer and was negotiating job titles when my manager (who isn’t the one i report to for day to day) had a one on one with me. I got excited thinking it would be a promotion as I had been there 2.5 years in a very entry level position for my education level. Well turns out his message was, no raise for me as I hit the max of my payband. I then ask what would it take for a raise (I know the answer but was trying to nudge him in the direction) and the conversation ends up with him saying promotions require VP approval, have to wait another 6-12 months blah blah.

    I negotiated the new job to give me a two level jump , handed in my 2 weeks notice a couple weeks later. Had lunch with former coworkers 2-3 months later and they still hadn’t found my replacement and a project fell thru because I was the only one who could do it.

  66. David*

    I think the “Do you think I’m stupid?” was a bit over the top, but I can understand why you are frustrated.

    If your boss is indeed ignoring you and working to fire you, I think that reflects poorly on the boss as well.

  67. sjw*

    Anyone but me wonder if the OP meant 5.0% instead of 0.5%? The main reason I think this is the comment from her boss that this was the highest raise he’d given. That said, I had a “do you think I’m stupid” moment with my boss years and years ago. I was told that my HR job in a large law firm would be eliminated at some point in the year (I sensed that for a variety of reasons), but, not to worry, that they’d find a spot for me — as a legal secretary. Mind you, I dont have the skills or experience to be a legal secretary. My response — “What makes you think I can do that job? Is it because I have breasts?” Shouldn’t have said it, but, the look on my boss’s face was pretty priceless. Fortunately, I had a job lined up within 2 weeks.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I don’t think they did. OP writes, “I pointed out that this hardly even adjusts my salary for inflation….”

      So far, 2015 inflation (minus the December numbers) is about 0.3% – so the statement would be factually true at 0.5% but not even close at 5.0%.

      1. Green*

        It’s also not uncommon to have a raise pro-rated by the amount of time she was in the role, so if she graduated in May and got her first review in December…

    2. Joanna*

      The manager’s statement that this 0.5% raise is the highest raise he’s ever given seems like it has to be either very misleading or a flat-out lie (misleading if he’s never given a raise, and really incredible if he’s given a raise of 0.25% or something in that range).

      The fact that he would congratulate the OP for such a raise instead of apologizing, explaining, or mentioning it merely matter-of-factly makes it seem like he does in fact think the OP is stupid. In fact, based on the OP’s description, the manager is probably miffed by the OP’s confrontation as well as by the mere fact of being caught in a lie.

      OP: You should be (1) apologizing profusely and doing what you can to help your boss save face and (2) looking for another job with great urgency. Also, remember that a boss has more power over you than a paycheck. He influences your future paychecks as well because he can give a bad reference. Stick up for yourself with your actions, not your words: don’t confront your boss over giving you a pitiful raise; thank him for everything he’s done for you as you are resigning.

  68. Newbie*

    I had a boss who slowly chipped away at the annual raises I was getting, even though the work load and demands kept going up. The first year, it was a decent raise. The second year, it was 1/3 less – but with a nice bonus in December. The final year, it was half of the first year (abysmal, frankly) – and a crappy bonus in December.

    I tried everything I could. I was respectful. I expressed my concern, asking if there was an issue with my performance. He was quick to say there was no issue. Everything was great. Hrm. I got him to sit down to a meeting where the start of a Performance Assessment was conducted. I was asked to respond to the discussion in writing. I gave him a typed, single spaced page, challenging some of the ratings he gave, i.e. 100% accuracy was ‘meeting expectations’ not ‘above average’ or ‘distinguished’ – and there was no guidance on how to achieve that. He said we’d sit down to discuss it. Well, that never happened, because he found lots of reasons to delay, even though I followed up on a regular basis. Then he had the nerve to be surprised when I handed him my letter of resignation – 10 1/2 months later.
    TL;DR – You can’t fix stupid. Time to move on.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      But you did the right thing—tried… and then left. The OP did the wrong thing—reacted angrily and unprofessionally.

  69. Not So NewReader*

    Well, OP, at least you did not cuss.

    And that was kind of a gutsy question, you put yourself right out there.

    You: “what do you think I am stupid?”
    Boss: “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do think you are stupid.”

    There are a lot of bosses out there that would actually answer that question, OP. Please be aware that question could lead to conversations you just. don’t. want. to. have.

    And watch out for people who escalate. They do not come with tags to identify them, but these are the people that will mirror your words back at you times ten. Whatever you are saying comes back to you ten times as harsh. Now this can be fine, if the battle is worth it to you. But it’s not so fine when they surprise you and you have not much recourse. And that is what happened here.

    Everyone is saying apologize. There is an art to a good apology. You start with “I am sorry.” Then you acknowledge what you did. “I did x and y, and I should not have done those things. I was wrong.” Definitely do not make excuses or say anything to try to defend yourself. Then ask if the boss will accept your apology.

    He could say he will not accept your apology. It’s his choice.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Reminds me of a time when I had to work a second job – but – my primary job bosses insisted I quit that job.

      I stressed – “the only way I can afford to work for YOU is if I keep that job. I need the money. You’re not paying me enough. If you want to raise my pay to cover that, we might be able to talk.”

      Their (stupid) response = “But it embarrasses us. It makes us look like cheap ….. (vile word, got Crash Davis thrown out of a baseball game)”

      My response = “That’s because you ARE cheap …. !”

      Hell they walked into that one… “Mr. Quayle, you’re no John Kennedy” moment…

  70. Aswin Kini MK*

    Hi OP,

    Sad to hear about your situation. While I certainly understand your frustration, you should NOT have used the words that you used.

    However, considering the way your Manager conveyed the hike as if he was rewarding you with something great, it is best you move out of your workplace for two reasons:

    1) A company which “rewards” its employees with 0.5% is certainly NOT a good one to work for and will soon become a toxic workplace (Trust me people give absurd reasons stating industry standard and salaries, but having been through similar situations, I will always state this is bullshit)
    2) Your Manager should have known better. Atleast he could have not used words that sound sarcastic. No “sensible” manager in the world would try to use words like “Congratulations, this is the best raise we have given”.

    I hope you find a good job soon. Good riddance to your manager and company.

  71. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

    I am the only one with the OP here? In Spain we have an idiom, “you pee over me and you tell me it is raining”. This is what happened to the OP. The boss was completely disrespectful in the way he presented the raise and, let’s face it, it looks like he was taking the OP for a stupid. Now the boss does not answer his questions or emails, which is a good hint of his lack of management skills.

    I lived the same situation some years ago. A co-worker denounced to the Labour Office that our employer was not paying the night shift plus we should have been receiving by law. So they started to paying it… lowering our salary on for the same amount (i.e., if we were earning, let’s say, 1000 USD and should get +100 of plus, we started earning 900 + 100 of night shift plus). It was sold to us as that they have gracefully decided to comply the law and that our salary had not been lowered, because we were earning the same. Yes. But we should have been earning more.
    By the way, we all got a nice 0,25 dolars rise this year! I do not mean 0,25 dolars per hour. I mean per year.

    Sure, the OP could have done it more gracefully, but the boss could very have not treated him as an idiot.

    1. Rebel Yellow*

      Firstly, assuming that the boss is treating the employee “like an idiot” is not evidenced by the facts presented. It is an emotive reading of events presented by a (clearly angry and upset) OP. We have very limited information about what the boss actually said.

      Secondly, the advice to the boss would likely be that they had handled things rather poorly, had they written in about the situation (and confirmed what the OP wrote). But they didn’t. The OP did, and so the comments are (mostly) addressed to them. And it’s not just that they “could have done it more gracfully”. That phrasing drastically underplays the severity of their misstep here. It’s that how they did do it was so unreasonable and inappropriate that they may very well have done serious harm to their career. To avoid pointing that out to them would be to do them a disservice.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think anyone’s saying a 0.5% raise is an objectively amazing thing that the OP should be grateful for.

      I think the issues most people have here are:

      1. We don’t know the culture of the company and what a 0.5% raise means there.
      2. We don’t know how long the OP has been at the company. It’s reasonable to assume the OP has been there only 6 months or a year.
      3. Regardless of how horrible the manager was in presenting the raise, the OP’s reply is wildly out of line and unprofessional.

    3. Biff*

      (I read that with a Spanish accent. Just so you know.)

      This blog is focused on a very specific subset of work and offices, as far as I can tell. A lot of Alison’s advice would fly as well as a lead balloon in my office. In fact, had this incident occurred in my office. I’d have expected OP’s response to have contained a LOT more expletives. That’s just the environment in which I work. That isn’t to say Alison has bad advice. She’s been very clear on multiple occasions that her advice doesn’t apply to certain industries, or even cultures beyond the Anglo-American generic office space. She’s also said, many times, that success in the work place is tailoring yourself, your reactions and your presentation to your environment. (Or conversely, choose an office or workplace that is just about your speed.)

      That said, I’ve realized that this blog applies to me less and less as of late, so I’m probably going to wander off for a while and find someone who talks to my specific industry — that’s what I need to get and edge at this time.

    4. Laura C.*

      Spanish Latino here – this blog deals with American workplace issues, so I wouldn’t read too much into it from Spain. Remembering my grandfather, from Spain, used to say when he was pissed: “I sh*t on G-.” You can’t say that here. It’s highly offensive.

  72. Zifried Zanzibar*

    OP, perhaps an anger management seminar is in order? I can understand having that reaction to the raise, especially if you feel cheated, but it worries me that anyone would angrily snappy at anyone, let alone their boss, right off the bat. Were you having a bad day? Otherwise, learn to take that stuff home and complain to friends and family like the rest of us. It might not be as cathartic as saying it to the object of your scorn, but it’ll be less destructive in the long run assuming your friends aren’t gossips.

  73. Sans*

    My previous job was very badly paid. But I was unemployed in 2009 and took what I could get. After a while, there was lots of turnover. The economy was a little better and people didn’t feel like putting up with the underpayment or a lot of other things. I was looking, but hadn’t found anything yet. They wanted to keep me – they lost a lot of experienced people and I was basically holding down the fort. So they gave me “an amazing raise … you just don’t see this kind of raise”. It was 5%. Now. yes I recognize that was higher than what most people were getting. But as a retention strategy, when you’re underpaid to begin with, it wasn’t enough to matter. But I thanked them politely, and soon got a job offer elsewhere with a 30% raise.

    It’s okay to know what you’re worth and act on it. It’s admirable to not feel cowed into accepting whatever an employer chooses to give you. But always act professionally. Never burn a bridge.

  74. newlyhr*

    What got the OP in trouble in the first place was focusing on his own feelings and an imagined ulterior motive, rather than on the problem that was actually on the table. He’s made a lot of assumptions that caused him to feel angry and disrespected and did nothing to deal with the actual problem, which is that the evaluation and the raise are inconsistent. Reacting with a sullen, smart-alecky response didn’t resolve the problem, it just created another one, and, honestly, one I doubt the OP can overcome. I agree with those who say to dust off your resume and start looking.

    For the future, a suggestion for the OP: You don’t have to immediately respond to any situation, and in fact you should NOT respond if you feel that white hot anger rising to the top of our head. Next time, take a deep breath and say, “I need some time to think about this and get back to you.” And then stop talking and go somewhere and cool off. Come back with your talking points ready. Focus on the problem, not the person.

    You can exhibit maturity and professionalism in the workplace in spite of how anybody else is behaving. Your responses are not determined by somebody else’s words or behavior. You can choose how to handle situations, even when somebody else is behaving badly. Your responses are your choices. Learning to pause and think before you open your mouth is an important lesson to learn early. I hope the OP has done that. I learned this lesson the hard way too.

    1. John*

      About a year after I got married, I got in a stupid altercation with another driver on the road that wasn’t my fault. He got so angry that he followed me and when we were both stopped at a red light (and in heavy traffic, so there was nowhere to go) he got out of his car and started walking angrily to my car, plus he was about 6’5” and weighed at least 300 pounds. I furiously rolled up my window (which was mechanical, so it took forever) and yelled that I was calling the police and finally he backed down when traffic started moving.

      When I told my wife about it when I got home, I was expecting her to sympathize with me, but instead she set me straight. She reminded me that if I get myself into a dangerous situation, it doesn’t just hurt me, it hurts her, too, no matter how in the right I am.

      It was hard to be corrected in that moment, but she was right. I’ve always remembered it and it helps me leave my pride and righteous indignation out of things. It’s not worth it. Like Jesus said to his disciples: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

    2. myswtghst*

      I love your whole last paragraph so, so much. Remembering you are in control of your reactions is an important lesson, and I’ve had a lot of conversations (both with my SO and with people I’ve trained and mentored at work) about how important this is. You can absolutely be frustrated / angry / disappointed about something, and vent about it to someone outside of work, but at work, you suck it up and do what you need to do (including stepping away and returning to a conversation later) to respond productively. And if you don’t make the effort to respond productively, you need to be prepared to deal with the consequences of your response.

  75. voyager1*

    I would have to know the industry and type of work involved, but if I were to get a raise like that at annual review, I would be looking for a new job that night.

    1. midhart90*

      Agreed. While I understand that norms vary from one field to another, I find it hard to believe that 0.5% would be considered a typical raise anywhere unless the company was within a year of closing its doors or there were significant performance concerns, neither of which seem to be the case here. It never hurts to throw a few resumes out there and see what numbers get mentioned, you may be pleasantly surprised. (I know I was when I tried it and saw my income go up by almost $20k overnight.)

  76. MaLea*

    I reacted just as badly when my company (a startup) received almost $20 million in funding and everyone got very high raises (as high as 50%) and despite their compliments on my work, I got…none. Reason given by the new COO who became my boss two months prior? “I haven’t worked with you long enough to evaluate you properly (and thus give you an appropriate raise).” It was a rubbish response and when I pushed, she said that I was already being paid at the market rate and therefore did not qualify for a raise. While I do not deny I was being paid at the market rate, I definitely felt insulted that they could not even throw $500 at me just to give me a slice of that pie and make me happy. I kept pushing, and they finally begrudgingly agreed to give me an 8% raise.

    True, I might have been focusing too much on my feelings and took my non-raise too personally, but I didn’t know how else to feel about it. I was HR, you see, so I knew how absurdly high everyone else’s raises were. My COO never liked me to begin with, and since that incident our relationship soured even further. I left a few months later, although not just due to this incident.

    OP, you should ask yourself how much you like this job and how badly you want to stay, and act accordingly. Eat humble pie if you want to stay; otherwise, start the job hunt.

  77. Will*

    You should have laughed and just walked out of the building.
    I wish I had.
    I wish I had voiced my thoughts about my insulting raise.
    You shouldn’t have Retracted your opinion about the raise. It was shit he knew it was shit and when some one presents you with shit you’re supposed to act revolted and he shouldn’t expect you to act any different.

  78. D. Trump*

    A 1/2 of 1% raise is the company saying “We do not want to retain you as an employee”. Do not apologize, the raise was an insult and meant as an insult so leave, the company is poorly managed and always will be. They can now pay to recruit, interview and retrain a new employee. This will sot more then a more generous raise would have. Leave the company and be done with them. Good riddance.

  79. Nicola*

    Wow, the prívate sector is awesome. I got outstanding evaluations all year, while reading constant dispatches from the superintendent about how very dire our budget situation was. My raise works out to .07%. I’m a public school teacher. This has become par for the course for teachers in many states over the last decade, as layers of administration have nevertheless continued to grow.
    That 3% average sounds like untold riches to me.

  80. AnAnonymous*

    I know how you feel. I worked really hard for a company for two and a half years. First year and second years my manager gave me the same bs reason, promise things will get better next year. I put in 130℅ effort burning the midnight oil or coming in weekends to finish projects, and he would find the 1℅ that goes wrong and use that as an excuse. Not to mention company is at record profit and stock return is at all time high. The truth is, the real world is not always fair. Weak Manager will play favorites and raise are reserves for them, and the rest gets scrap if there is any left. Note one of the manager job is to keep you employ for as little as possible. If your boss retaliate, you will get negative performance review no matter how much good work you do. Keep a very detail journal and copy of your work, you can take it up with hr or pursue legal action if necessary. Dont work for weak manager. If you have the skills, you can leave the company and get your own raise.

  81. Will's mom*

    I would love to get a .5% raise. We all took a 10% pay cut in December 2008. No one has gotten a raise since then, and because insurance costs go up every year, my take home pay is now less than what I brought home 15 years ago. I am about 5 years from retirement age, so finding a better job has been difficult.

  82. Looked over*

    I admire OP, wish I had guts. I have access to see the budgets for each department and am privy to how much the company made that year and let me tell you the company is not hurting. Most individuals got a 12% increase people in the same deapartment that I’m in and all I got was a 1.5% increase same as last year and after online research I found out I’m underpaid by $7000. All my reviews have been outstanding. The last time I asked my boss to bring me up to market rate he made a big deal about it had HR do research had the information in his inbox for two months when I approached him he said he doesn’t see that I’m underpaid he said he’ll need to look at it again after another month he brought me in apologized and said “oh is that all”meaning the difference was so insignificant probably to him but to me it meant not living pay check to paycheck and I can splurge on new tires. I have to approach him again I just don’t know how.

  83. Leslie*

    My bosses wife was making $22.00 per hour working 16 hours at best a week. Her hourly rate was just increased to $45.00 per hour working the same amount of time. Fair?

  84. Ivan*

    I know how you feel i had my evaluation recently and ive moved up quite alot since i started. I work in footwear and it doesn’t sound like much but i took the tine to look up every shoe in the department find the pros cons the pronation of each shoe. Every customer ive helped have always gone to tell my manager what a great job i did. Im the top associate in the entire store at customer service im the most knowledgeable in my department and i got the lowest raise i can get even though i get the praise from my customers and managers

  85. Trev*

    I recommend reading through the book Fearless Salary Negotiation. Probably applying for another job will get you a bigger raise than staying put at that job.

  86. Joe the manager*

    Sorry, you made a highly unprofessional move and were disrespectful. Since it’s your first professional job, maybe I can see why, but its unexcusable professionally and i would be very concerned as your manager. You are probably not a fit based on your behavior. Start looking for a new job, mostly so you can find something that makes you happier. Also, take with you the understanding that no company ever owes you a raise, and many employees dont ever get performance reviews, let alone scheduled chances for merit increases. Time for some learned humility and appreciation on your end.

  87. Kathleen*

    I work for a daycare that is partially subsidized by the government part of the daycare is not subsidized. My boss told us in the meeting that we would not be getting raises. For the subsidized part of the daycare does he have to give them a raise? For the not subsidized part of the daycare does he have to give raises? I am in the province of Quebec. I have been with this daycare for 4 years I started the daycare making $11 per hour. I do not have my diploma for daycare work. I have the amount of hours required. I received a dollar raise because the situation at work changed. I then received another dollar raise because of a personal situation. Now I make $13 an hour. Our boss held a meeting that was quote-unquote voluntary meaning that he did not pay us for our hour. In said meeting he informed us that we would not be receiving raises as the government had taken a lot out of the daycare budget. Is this right? Fair? Is he obliged to give us raises? Or can he do what he wants? Thank you.

  88. WillowSunstar*

    I work for a company where the only way to get more than a quarter a year raise, you have to move into another job, even if it’s a lateral transfer. It depends on what is standard where you are working. Have you been able to talk to your co-workers at all? I know in many companies, it is technically against the rules to talk about what you make, yet people do it anyway. The Internet is also a huge resource and I would strongly advise using it to find out what you should be making. If the company you’re at won’t give you what you are worth, you should consider a move to another company that will.

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