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TL;DR

How do I tactfully apologize for slacking off and express my willingness to set things straight again, without sounding like it was completely my fault?

After that, how do I approach the topic of proving myself in order to get a SUBSTANTIAL salary increase in the mid-year salary review, and that I want to work with him to make it happen?

Background

I am a junior software developer. Recently my manager ran some time sheet stuff and found out some "gaps" in mine. It was not specifically targeted at me, but a team-wide thing to ensure our time is tracked properly and thus can be reported up.

The time tracking system we currently use isn't great and we know most of us (with my manager admitting this himself) do poorly at tracking. So everyone has gaps.

We are a team of internal devs of 10-15 people in a 200-300 people company.

My gaps

For last few months I was not given enough tasks to keep myself busy. The only thing I could (and probably should) have been working on when I was free was an internal application (not a lot of business value) that no one seemed to care how I have been progressing. I was bored and gradually lost motivation to work on it. Thus began my slacking off.

What I want to achieve

I will be having a 1-on-1 meeting with my manager to discuss about the gaps. I would like to confess to him that I have been slacking off. I want to be honest and explain my reason of slacking off. Voice my frustration in my job. Hopefully get more things to do and make this job more interesting.

I am also (in my opinion) severely underpaid due to me underselling myself (not blaming the company or my manager). I want to let him know that I am looking forward to a SUBSTANTIAL increase in salary and I am more than willing to work hard to prove that I am worth it. I want my manager to know that I need him to give me a chance to prove myself.

The question

How do I tactfully apologize for slacking off and express my willingness to set things straight again, without sounding like it was completely my fault?

After that, how do I approach the topic of proving myself in order to get a SUBSTANTIAL salary increase in the mid-year salary review, and that I want to work with him to make it happen? I know it's probably a difficult request to make after admitting to slacking off, but I want to signal him that I want more money. I know I am worth it and I will definitely start looking if the pay is not enough.

The reason why I am not leaving now is because I am still relatively new in the company (< 1 year) and don't want to be seen as a job hopper.

Other little things

  • We just had a new IT manager who is my manager's manager (my manager is the manager of devs, we have other elements in IT). The IT manager seems to be a nice and competent guy and he has made it clear that he wants to make a difference. I am yet to have a 1-on-1 with him, but there should be one soon.
  • Please assume all discussions can happen in a civil manner. That is to say, I am anticipating my manager to be disappointed upon hearing the news but won't start swearing at me or giving me hell.

Appreciate your advice and please let me know if anything is unclear!

  • @JoeStrazzere This is not my first one-on-one but the last one was more than half year ago. I'm not asking for a raise right now, I'm asking what's a better way to let my manager know that I'm willing to work out a plan with him so that when the time for salary review comes, he'll be convinced that I deserve a raise. Provided I can stick to the plan and deliver great results. – Billy.Bob Mar 9 at 12:12
  • @JoeStrazzere that last sentence is really good advice. I think it's a very bad impression to give off and definitely don't intend to. However, I fear I might carelessly push myself into that...I agree, it's safer to drop anything about money and instead focus on my career goal. I would have upvoted this comment if I could. – Billy.Bob Mar 9 at 12:32
  • "I slacked off, didn't let my manager know there was a problem with my assignments, and want a big raise ASAP" is going to be a hard conversation to have. Would you consider splitting this into more than one talk? Maybe resolve the motivation problem and then have the salary talk once you're back on track? – Meg Mar 11 at 15:04
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You're giving this too much weight.

Unless you've been singled out or breated by your boss it seems they assume you just poorly filled out your timesheets.

If you had no tasks or not enough work you should have informed your superior about that immediately and asked for assignments!

There usually is always something to do and slacking off because of managements fault is bad work ethic.

It would also be very bad timing to confess to slacking off during a salary negotiation.
Not to mention that asking for more money while you're underperforming won't sit well.

If you really feel the need to apologize, tell your manager that you didn't have enough work assigned and became demotivated.

Apologize for not realizing to ask for more work immediately and let your boss know that you want to get out of that rut.

How to improve yourself to be worthy of a raise is slightly out of the scope of this forum.

Use common sense and improve your expertise while being assertive and proactive in applying your knowledge at work.

Show initiative and exemplary work ethic.

  • I'm not trying to to negotiate salary at the moment, I'm trying to work with my manager to make a plan so I can convince him and the company to give me the raise I desire. How to improve myself was not the question I wanted to ask, that's something I need to work out with my manager; but I see how my original wording could be confusing. The question should be about how do I approach my manager about making things happen to justify a raise. – Billy.Bob Mar 9 at 11:37
  • @Billy.Bob you don't.You improve your work and let that speak once you start talks about a raise.Unless your manager told you he is unhappy with your performance, still all he thinks as far as I understand is,you didn't fill out your timesheets fully and should do so from now on.Also, why would you tell him you're a slacker and want to change so you can get a raise.This is weird.It's all in your head and your boss never told you to up your game,unless you left out vital information.or is he having talks with each team member about the gaps?I don't understand.Just be better at work... – DigitalBlade969 Mar 10 at 15:46
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In almost every environment where I have worked the way to get ahead and position yourself for the best reviews and possible promotions is to take initiative for your path. You will be recognized far more for:

  1. Demonstrating a high level of productivity
  2. Showing leadership qualities in your team
  3. Spotting and solving problems
  4. Aiding management by presenting options for needed decisions
  5. Performing your job function in a way that management observes more than guides

To be honest if you have to sit down with your manager to get them to tell you how to achieve, perform and standout I doubt you will be successful at getting the raises that you desire.

  • Hi, this does not seem to answer the question; but I appreciate it as career advice. Thank you! – Billy.Bob Mar 9 at 12:37
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    @Billy.Bob - This is in direct response to: "After that, how do I approach the topic of proving myself in order to get a SUBSTANTIAL salary increase in the mid-year salary review, and that I want to work with him to make it happen?" I would again direct you to the final statement in my answer. – Michael Karas Mar 9 at 12:44
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For last few months I was not given enough tasks to keep myself busy. The only thing I could (and probably should) have been working on when I was free was an internal application (not a lot of business value) that no one seemed to care how I have been progressing. I was bored and gradually lost motivation to work on it. Thus began my slacking off.

If I stake this statement in face value, then I would say, not your problem. If you would have missed the assigned work, then that's slacking off. You did not have enough assignment, that's not your problem, that's the problem of your manager. You need not apologize for something you did not do, which was not your responsibility.

You are expected to work on something on your free time, you're not bound to it (as that is not the part of assigned work).

You can, however, bring up the matter in the discussion that (in the given order)

  • The assigned work and your accomplishments.
  • You do not have enough assigned work.
  • Your free-time work is not being supervised / reviewed and thus, you lack a proper planning to work on that.
  • Your argument for salary increment.
  • Well it was my problem, at least partially, because I didn't inform my manager that I didn't have a task to do. That's why I want to "set things straight again without sound like it was completely my fault". I'm hoping my manager and I come to a consensus that we both have responsibilities and we should move on and try to do it better in the future. – Billy.Bob Mar 9 at 11:24

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