This is my very first question on Workplace.SE so please let me know if I can improve anything to better comply with the site rules.


I work as a software developer for a rather small consulting company. Over the last three years my salary growth was far from keeping up with the average compensation for my skills/location. Even though the salary was not competitive in the first place. To prevent speculations, let's say I joined this company to have a slightly better work/life balance compared to Amazon Web Services where I worked my butt off before the move.

The management has been telling me consistently that "your salary is dependent on the value you provide", but also "if you want better pay, you should bring in customers". Weeeell, I don't know why would it be my responsibility to bring in customers if I'm in software development role.

So, I started trying to make sense out of our business model, growth, and strategy kind of things. Early last year our company has finally got an officially titled Director of Business Development. This person is nice and friendly, but the issue is I have no clue what she actually does to develop our company's business, hence I'm unable to help her in any way from my position aside from doing a good job and maintaining good relationships with clients. Assuming my salary is bound to the efficiency of Business Development Director's success, I expect her work to be transparent to the entire company. It's missing entirely. The person is outside of the office for a long time each week which makes it very hard to intersect because I'm onsite with 3 different clients through the course of the week too. One per quarter company meetings is too seldom and reactive.


How should I approach both Director of Business Development and the Company Founder (we have a VERY flat hierarchy) to demand better transparency since the director's results affect my livelihood immensely?

Side facts

  • Location: USA, Pacific North West.
  • Company size: 10-50 people. 60% devs/30% designers/10% management.
  • 7
    why have you not moved? 3 years of low pay would be a move signal for me.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 6, 2019 at 20:33
  • 12
    "your salary is dependent on the value you provide" and "if you want better pay, you should bring in customers" is manager-speak for "I'm not prepared to pay you any more than you're currently getting because I don't know/care what your skills are worth, I'm not interested in finding out, and I don't believe that you're prepared to leave and find another job".
    – brhans
    Feb 6, 2019 at 20:36
  • 5
    The company sounds like a mess, management either doesn't really have any metrics in place for evaluating salary increases or they just don't care to do so. Either way, I would start looking for a better opportunity.
    – sf02
    Feb 6, 2019 at 20:38
  • 1
    Is it below market rate for a position with the same work-life balance as your current one? Or below market rate for an average job with average work-life balance? Feb 7, 2019 at 1:58

3 Answers 3


I'm also new at responding, so please edit if I'm incorrectly doing this.

Challenging your question here. First, my assumption: You said that management was saying your salary would go up if you directly brought in new clients, and then are saying you wish to support some new hire who's job it is to bring in new clients. Please correct if mistaken.

I think its great that you wish to support this hire. That would definitely provide value and despite some odd phrasing, would match up with what you said is affecting your salary and your management should increase it.

That said, I find the entire setup very suspicious. First, if you're a developer it is NOT your job to bring in new clients. Part of your job could easily be to provide a professional face when interacting with them, but you shouldn't be making sales calls and trying to bring up new business. At least, I'm assuming you aren't being paid to.

However, that also doesn't mean you are entitled to know everything this new hire is doing to bring in business. Yes, you clearly have a small company, but that doesn't really matter. A marketing or sales department (whether 1 person or a whole team of 50) are their own separate entity and providing value to the company by finding new clients. I would certainly expect there to be some overlap, like if they want to market a particular phrase they would let the development team know to use specific wording, but I wouldn't expect them to seek your approval on their overall marketing strategy.

To put it another way, why should you have total transparency into their job and ensuring they are 'finding new clients correctly?' If that was the case, whats to stop this Director of Business Development from demanding total transparency into YOUR work and how you're coding and interacting with clients? After all, your work results immensely impact her livelihood since if you can't provide whats stated to clients, then they'll take their business elsewhere.

That sounded harsher than intended. Again, there is definite value in different teams working together to build off each other, and I encourage you to set that meeting anyways. I would just ask you instead talk about a way to share ideas / motifs/ themes to help build your company's 'brand'


How should I approach both Director of Business Development and the Company Founder (we have a VERY flat hierarchy) to demand better transparency since the director's results affect my livelihood immensely?

Find another job. Demand cash upfront. You've joined the company for a better work/life balance but the most likely you will be overwhelmed with various tasks and burnout just to get marginal gain to your current compensation which is already below market rate. Managers use vague language to postpone your salary increase. You're in position to think like shareholder - are you compensated in stocks or options? If you'll bring customers, how it will relate with your salary - is it specific agreement or just abstract saying?

Looks contradicting:

we have a VERY flat hierarchy) to demand better transparency


Been around similar situations, couple things to consider...

demand better transparency since the director's results affect my livelihood

You don't. Sorry. Because they will most likely consider it none of your business.

bring in customers + I'm onsite with 3 different clients

It's possible them mean bring in more business from existing clients, not necessarily new clients. You are right, developers have almost no viable way to create new business unless they're open to speculative feature development...probably not.

Here's the problem, they can tell you that your salary is based on contribution, but they then have to tell you how that contribution is measured and what the goals are. If they don't, I hate to say, but it then sounds like you're getting a run-around. Whether it be intentional or lack of competence doesn't matter.

If they can't provide you with a satisfactory, to you, advancement path, you need to make considerations based on that.

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