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Where I work they do not tell us what our raises are ahead of time. We instead have to wait until we receive the 2nd paycheck in January which reflects our new rate since we are paid bi-weekly. There's no real reason for this, its just what they do. My supervisor already knows what each member of my team will be receiving. I'm really eager to find out of course.

Would it be appropriate for me to ask him before I get the paycheck where it has taken effect? If so, what's a good way to phrase the question so as not to make it awkward?

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3  
Are you certain your immediate supervisor does know? In many places the first line supervisor is not allowed to have this information. –  HLGEM Jan 10 '13 at 21:32
    
We have heard through the grapevine that management has already had the discussion involving the pool of money to be distributed to each team member for their raise. I don't know that for certain of course, but that is the purpose of this question to see either way if its appropriate for me to ask about it. –  THE DOCTOR Jan 15 '13 at 13:56

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Unless there is some real pressing issue as to why you need to know a few weeks early, I would stay away from asking this. There are more possible negatives to collect here than positives.

Some of the possible negatives:

  • The raise has already been processed, manager may feel you are opening up the door to try and challenge him, which would be a hassle at this point.
  • Come off as nickel-and-diming your manager.
  • At this point your raise amount is irrelevant. You should be actively tracking your goals and progress with you manager throughout the year, so that you raise estimate is not too far off. So this shows you are not engaged.
  • Manager may see this as unable to resist immediate gratification of having to know (manager might think - really, this guy can't wait another 2 weeks?).
  • If you haven't been discussing work with your manager it may come off as you only care about getting a pay check.

What you can do, for example, during your next review, is to say my goal this year is to take on more responsibility, so what is expected of me if I am looking to receive a raise double/the same as last year? or...what is expected of me to be promoted to a level X?

Other things you might be able to find out to give you a better idea, without having to ask your boss:

  • If you are close to a co-worker, discuss with them, employes love to gossip about this stuff all the time, which is a double edge sword but nonetheless a way to get more info. Do note there are corporate policies about discussing this but from my experience it doesn't seem to stop it from happening, so see what info you can get if you do hear that type of conversation.
  • average salary increase across all employees in the department.
  • department budget for the year.
  • what other coworkers said about previous raises.
  • your mid or end year review scores (as everything is relative to other co-workers).
  • average raise in your industry.
  • how you rank in productivity .
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In considering talking about this with coworkers, check your corporate policies - many companies (in fact, most that I've worked for) have policies against discussing salary with co-workers (and customers). –  GreenMatt Jan 11 '13 at 13:33
    
@GreenMatt: no argument there but the fact is people do talk to some degree about this stuff at some time. It would be better to pick up on these conversations if they do happen rather than start them.... –  Greg McNulty Jan 11 '13 at 16:43
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@GregMcNulty: Sure, people can talk and some will. I raise the issue because if you're going to talk about your salary with anyone outside management (and your spouse), you need to be careful doing so. I once worked with a guy who was suspended without pay because he talked about his salary with our customer and news of this got back to management. He was told that another offense would lead to termination of his employment. –  GreenMatt Jan 11 '13 at 16:51
    
@GreenMatt: +1 for the example, thanks. –  Greg McNulty Jan 11 '13 at 22:42
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Thank you Greg McNulty for your thorough answer and to GreenMatt for bringing up a good point. –  THE DOCTOR Jan 15 '13 at 14:20

Your best gauge would be your supervisor's history of disclosing information prior to the "official" release date. If they haven't had a problem with sharing that type of information to a group of your coworkers, then they are more likely to provide you with information pertaining specifically to you.

That being said, they could be under direction from their superiors to not disclose any information to their subordinates, which is highly likely. Payroll tends to be a very sensitive subject from a management perspective, primarily because most people believe they don't make enough for what they do. So, rather than engaging in open discussion, they prefer to only deal with the issues at review time.

To answer your question, I would simply wait and see. The second paycheck in January isn't that far away...

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I have decided to wait. Although, when you are eagerly anticipating something, it always seems like the wait is a lifetime. –  THE DOCTOR Jan 15 '13 at 14:18

The appropriate question is really point of view. From the outside looking in, I would opine it is very appropriate. Each year, the discussion of pay adjustments is truly about renegotiating terms and conditions of continued employment. It is an all parties at the table event working through a situation that is acceptable to everyone. This cannot happen ex post facto.

From inside out, however, it appears there is a culture of silence around this event. The message is clear: take it or leave it. Right?

I think you have every right to call a meeting to discuss this before it comes out in your salary. And I think a direct request, something like, "I'd like to set a meeting to discuss my compensation in the next year," would be appropriate. However, because of the culture in YOUR organization, this is not risk free.

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If it's the cultural office norm not to then I wouldn't bother for a couple of weeks but it seems like a bizarre approach - how are staff meant to budget if they don't know what they'll be getting paid next month?

We have a sit down discussion where it has already been decided but it's still worthwhile having those meetings so everyone can feel engaged in the process.

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