it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. Last year my company was so great when it came to COVID. I work for a large company (~20k employees) and they prioritized saving people’s jobs above all else, which led to a reduction in staff size that was less that 5% and significantly less than our competitors. One of the other policies they enacted was a salary cut for those at the very top and title promotions but no salary increases until January 2021. I was promoted in June 2020 and was excited about it despite the fact that I wouldn’t see my 10% raise until this year. I was also completely at peace with the fact that I would not receive back pay, as the CEO made it seem very unlikely and I was just happy to have a good job!

However, just yesterday we received an email from the CEO saying that everyone who took a pay cut or who didn’t receive a promotional salary increase would be getting full back pay!!! I can’t tell you how happy that made me, as I was fully prepared to never see that money. I feel so grateful that I have a great, supportive employer during these times and this just proves how much they have their employees’ backs. I wish everyone could have this kind of employer in their lives!

2. Thanks to you, I did not leave money on the table. I’ve been in my position for eight years, and we recently had management turnover in the entire C-suite. As part of this turnover, they began the year by cutting all bonuses and stipends and increased workload company-wide, and last month laid down a moratorium on salary negotiations for current employees. However, I am finishing my industry certification this year, and had been verbally promised a raise by prior management (nothing in writing – -I know, I know! my mistake), so I emailed the CEO to discuss my situation. I did not expect anything, but was already bitter about the loss of over $5,000 in stipends and bonuses that previously compensated me for work that was now part of my job description (yes, I tried to negotiate at that point; no, it didn’t work) and figured it was worth asking.

Keeping everything I read on this blog in mind, I constantly bit my tongue and did not discuss my loss of stipend, increased workload, or prior negotiation. I reminded myself that even though I had emotional baggage, I was simply pointing out the value add of my certification and the verbal promise that I knew was never written down. And…. it worked!! It’s not quite enough to make up for the lack of stipends, but it gets me much closer than I had been before, and actually was a higher raise than had been verbally told to me – so I feel very good about it.

Thank you for reminding us to keep our value-add at the center of negotiations, and to stop talking after you make the ask!

3. I’m close to retirement age, but there is always something to be learned on the AAM site, a better way of handling a familiar situation, or more nuanced language. Despite having many years of experience and excellent interpersonal relationships, I still bump into difficult situations.

For the last 11 years, I’ve been a team lead for a very large financial institution in my non-US country. During the course of my career, I’ve led many complicated database infrastructure projects and have a reputation for organization and collaboration.

My previous manager and I had a great relationship. On reviews he wrote that I am a self-managing employee and that his job was to make sure that I had what I need to get the job done, and then get out of the way. For eight years, that’s how we did things. Then he left for a new job and one of my fellow team leads became my manager.

My new manager (Joe) and I have an abrasive relationship. He tends to yell and argue. That’s his style. Even when you agree with him, it still sounds like you are arguing. I told Joe from time to time that it wasn’t much fun to always be in confrontation mode with him. But things didn’t change.

I have been juggling three high-stress, major infrastructure projects. At one point, I had received some conflicting instructions from our department manager and Joe. In order to keep him in the picture and try to resolve the conflict, I initiated a conference call with Joe and another team lead who was affected by this. On the call Joe didn’t let me talk. He “read my mind” and then argued with me based on his telepathy.

Joe accused me of going behind his back, despite the fact that I was the one bringing this to his attention. He accused me of doing whatever I want, no matter what decisions were made, which is also incorrect. He then said that if I didn’t like what he was saying, maybe I should resign. I responded that this was not a productive conversation and ended the call. A few minutes later, the other team lead called to see if I was ok and to explain that Joe is problematic and not to take it personally.

This was just before our company went on holiday for a week. Joe tried contacting me via email, phone, and WhatsApp. I needed to calm down, so I told him that I had no intention of talking to him until after the holiday, to which he responded, “OK.”

I was in the office over the holiday and had plenty of time to think. I originally planned to demand a transfer of my team to a different manager, which would be feasible. However, I decided to try and work things out with him.

After the holiday I told Joe that I don’t mind justifying my actions to him, but it is not OK to personally insult me just because things are stressful. He agreed he has a tendency to “explode” and say things he shouldn’t. He said he wanted to continue working with me, but if I wanted to go to his boss and ask for a change, he wouldn’t stand in my way. He would even go with me to help facilitate the move.

We agreed to give it a try. We also agreed that if he gets out of line, I should shut down the conversation. That will let him know that he’s out of line, give him time to calm down, and keep things from escalating.

In the last three months, it’s been like a honeymoon. It’s clear that he has been making an effort to avoid fighting. I think he did some soul-searching because our one-on-ones are no longer confrontational. So, true to the AAM philosophy, the willingness of both parties to communicate try to resolve their conflict helped us to get to a positive resolution.

4. I decided to switch careers in my late twenties. I had been a teacher and wanted a more administrative role. I went to graduate school and then started looking for work, and even though I had four years of teaching experience, I did not have office experience and I was finding many entry-level jobs still expected prior relevant experience. I was looking for jobs in my hometown (which is one of the most expensive cities in the world) and I knew that I needed to make at least $X to be able to afford living expenses.

I applied and applied and applied, and after many months I only got three interviews. One place asked my salary needs upfront and disqualified me because they were not willing to pay $X, the second place required me to work Saturdays and commute over an hour and 20 minutes each way, and the third place said that they did not negotiate salaries and that the offer was $X-$1,000.

Since I was desparate for work and had depleted most of my savings, I took the third offer even though it was $1,000 less than my bare minimum salary needs. Well, I’m very happy that I did because that was five years ago and I chose a company that offers many opportunities to grow and move up and I’m currently two promotions from where I started and I’m now making double my original salary which is far better than I had expected. I also really like the organization, my coworkers and the work so it really worked out well and I’m glad I didn’t just discount it based on salary alone.

5. Thank you for sharing so much of your knowledge and expertise through your site; I’ve found it invaluable in my job search as a May 2020 college grad.

My good news is that I accepted an offer for an incredible job at a company that invests in their employees and offers a clear path for career movement and lots of training/support. It’s exactly the kind of work environment I hoped to be in, and it’s doing work that makes a tangible difference in peoples’ lives!

My cover letters have long been pretty formulaic, but for this application I followed your advice and one of my interviewers even mentioned the specific lines from it that stood out and made her think I’d be a great fit!

Thanks also for providing a space for sharing good job news. I’ve been applying and getting rejected over and over again for almost a year to the point where when I got this job, my anxiety brain convinced me that I shouldn’t be excited because I should have gotten a job earlier and I’m a failure for taking so long. In writing this email, I started to feel the joy and excitement I’ve denied myself and I’m going to work to hold onto those feelings.

{ 16 comments… read them below }

  1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Hooray for everyone here, but a special thumbs-up to LW#5 — do NOT let that anxiety brain rob you of the happinesss you deserve!

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      +1! OP5, you graduated into a ww pandemic. It’s been an outrageous year, you did fine. Congratulations!

  2. TimeTravlR*

    Wow! Joe’s employee (#3): Good for you for saying what needed to be said. It’s hard to do but you proved it’s worth it!
    All great and amazing stories!

  3. Sue*

    It sounds like it’s working out because the LW has handled the situation well but…why was this problematic Joe promoted? It sounds like he was a known quantity so I’m concerned about a workplace that rewards bad behavior.

  4. jess*

    Doubling a salary in five years is pretty significant! Curious what kind of organization this is. The low salary at the beginning sounds almost like hazing for new employees intended to weed people out.

  5. Bookworm*

    Thanks to all the LWs for sharing their good news with us. Always nice to end the week with this. :)

    1. IHopeAllJoesGetATalkingTo*

      TootsNYC I think you are absolutely right. I’m glad this Joe is listening though, that’s rare!

      I’ve worked for many Joe’s against my will, re-orgs rarely go in my favor. My current Joe doesn’t attempt to “get all Joe” with me, I’m not sure why. It could be because I informed him and his boss early on that very little offends me and there’s lot of unglamorous work I’m willing to do however I have zero tolerance for yelling.

      Unfortunately I have hear he “gets all Joe” with other people on a particular project, it comes around every year and is effectively his baby. Around half to the folks have complained to me about being scared for their jobs because he has been yelling at them. I know one of his peers is going to my skip boss about it. I’m on the sidelines twiddling my thumbs because it isn’t my place and it’s not my experience but I sure as hell can see him behaving like that. I always wonder if he is going to explode at me one day.

  6. B Wayne*

    I am almost boring in saying this (again) but I certainly look forward to the Friday Good News and hope it stays around once we return to whatever “normal” evolves to.

  7. edddvil*

    no idea what common wisdom is on this, but personally I’ve always had pretty good luck with companies that offer the salary upfront and don’t negotiate. maybe because i’m not very good socially, so I do well in workplaces with a more objective approach to money, rather than relying on soft skills and negotiating?

    1. Gloucesterina*

      interesting! can you say more about how you screen for companies with this approach and what it looks like? do these companies have transparent salary bands that they list publicly as part of the job posting, similar to public universities in the US?

    2. Gloucesterina*

      Although I think that AAM’s point is usually “You don’t have to be a social skills ninja or be comfortable with the idea of negotiation to negotiate successfully when negotiation is a socially expected part of the hiring process. Here are the words to say, please say these words.” :)

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