So I have this teammate who is much older than I which is probably the reason why he earns more than I. He has tons of experience on other aspects of software engineering but when it comes to iOS development (which is our job), it is clear that he is underperforming. Now I just had a significant salary raise but still significantly lower than what he makes. I can't directly bring this up to my supervisor because of the NDA regarding salaries, but it's clearly causing my demotivation and hurting my overall job satisfaction.

I'd really like to stay, it's a great company to advance my skill,s but salary-wise, I also needed to feel that I'm compensated fairly. I guess what I'm asking is, how do I really manage the stress that I feel about this setup?

  • 1
    Legally, you can bring this up askamanager.org/2012/01/… Your employer can fire you for an unrelated reason of course, but firing you sounds like your employer would really shoot itself in the foot. – Stephan Branczyk Aug 4 '18 at 9:26
  • @StephanBranczyk legally they cannot fire you for a supposedly unrelated reason. Of course good luck proving it. – stannius Apr 18 '19 at 14:58

How do I deal with finding out that my underperforming teammate makes more than me?

But it's clearly causing my demotivation and overall job satisfaction. But I'd really like to stay, it's a great company to advance my skills but salary-wise, I also needed to feel that I'm compensated fairly. I guess what I'm asking is, how do I really manage the stress that I feel about this setup?

Would you immediately feel a lot better about your life if this coworker got a pay cut, yet your salary stayed the same?

At some point in your career, you simply need to learn that basing your motivation on what someone else makes is a mistake. Being "demotivated" and feeling "stress" because you learned that someone else makes more than you is a poor way to go through the day.

You'll need to learn how to focus on the positives of your career, your job, your compensation and stop comparing yourself to others.

There is always someone better than you. Always someone making more than you. Always someone getting more promotions than you. If you focus on that, you'll always be "demotivated" and "under stress".

Stop worrying about others. You and your attitude are the only things within your control. Focus on you. Be the best you that you can be. Do that and you'll be happier. And your career will benefit as well.


You shouldn't bring up coworker's salaries in discussion of your own salary (even if there weren't an NDA).

The performance and pay of your coworkers (at least on an individual level) is generally none of your business - that's between them, their manager and the company, and this knowledge generally only creates negative feelings.

There may be things going on behind the scenes affecting the salary they're getting, so you shouldn't assume it's as simple as "they're achieving X, the company thinks that's worth Y". It could be that:

  • In a new role, the company is assuming they'll get up to speed quickly to justify the salary. Whether you're a new grad or whether you have 30 years of experience, there's always a period of getting up to speed in the beginning when your performance doesn't justify your salary (but more experience may make this period shorter).
  • The company realises they're paying too much, and this employee may not get a raise any time soon, or the company may even be looking into getting rid of them.
  • The company doesn't realise the employee is underperforming, but, again, it's not your job to address that.
  • This employee has some very useful knowledge or maybe even secrets that means the company really wants to hang on to this employee.
  • You don't have the full picture of what they're achieving, or you're biased.
  • They may be going through some personal stuff which is affecting their performance and the company is deciding to cut them some slack.

If you feel that you deserve a higher salary, based on your performance, what you can get elsewhere and what the company pays others (on average, not on a per-employee basis), you should probably have a discussion about that with your manager, focused around your performance. See: How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?


Let's say it like this:

  • Who are you to judge how much the increased experience of this guy should be worth to the company - a fixed salary is not so much about the current performance but about the expectation to handle situations professionally
  • Maybe he was brought into your project since there was nobody else available.
  • maybe he even did not like this
  • So, should the company give incentives that employees change the jobs internally as needed or should the company give incentive to stay in their field of expertise until the field is irrelevant?

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