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Each year the company owner determines raises to go out to each employee. This year I accidentally read a memo addressed to HR that a lot of weight will be given to how "billable" an employee is. Basically, if you work 80% of your time on customer projects and 20% on internal work, you're likely to get a bigger raise than someone that only spends 50% of their time on customer projects.

Most of the employee are billable, but we have 5 that aren't because they only do internal work. They will be excluded from this rule. I'm an exception because I'm technically billable, but most of my work is internal, fixing IT issues.

Would it be better to approach my boss before I'm told my raise, because he decides the amount beforehand. Or, when I likely get a small raise, should I argue my case at that time? Raises are all decided beforehand so I thought it'd be better to talk to him before the meeting, but he would wonder how I found out about the new raise system.

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    @JoeStrazzere I was performing work on an HR employees computer and noticed it sitting on the desk. – Andy Nov 12 '19 at 22:27
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    @Andy if the document was really "company confidential" then I would recommend finding a new job. Your company thinks that secret raise criteria will somehow motivate you to do things you could not know the company wants done. – emory Nov 13 '19 at 2:17
  • Can you give us a clear indication on whether or not the raise criteria is actually supposed to be a secret? Have you ever asked your boss how raises are determined? I've worked in companies where raises and bonuses were based on billable rates, but everyone knew that. In the right context it can be a great motivator, and I don't see why it would be considered secret. – dwizum Nov 13 '19 at 14:07
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    How do you "accidentally" read a memo? – sf02 Nov 13 '19 at 14:43
  • What you describe makes me foresee there will be big trouble made by the 5 others that get no raise. If you aren't even concerned, why tell you 'accidentally' read something not meant for you? – puck Nov 13 '19 at 17:44
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Owner is determining raises based on customer work

Well, they can determine whatever criteria they want for raise, does not matter. The real question is: do you think you are getting paid enough (including the raise), based on your work and contribution?

  • Forget you've read about the criteria (which is a restricted or confidential information)
  • Approach you boss, present the work you've done, the milestones you've achieved and the value you've added to the organization.
  • Ask for a revision / raise accordingly.

Once again: Forget you read any memos. Do not bring it up in any conversation, anywhere, to anyone.

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    This is the right answer. Your boss's evaluation criteria is irrelevant. He could base your raise off how many vowels you have in your name. What's important is whether or not you feel you're being paid appropriately. – Omegastick Nov 13 '19 at 8:13
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    And of course, if your company doesn't value the work you do, move to one that will. – Robin Bennett Nov 13 '19 at 11:25
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This year I accidentally read a memo addressed to HR that a lot of weight will be given to how "billable" an employee is.

Would it be better to approach my boss before I'm told my raise, because he decides the amount beforehand. Or, when I likely get a small raise, should I argue my case at that time?

In general, it's best to be proactive about raises. That would mean talking to your boss ahead of time.

But in this case, only you can judge how your boss would react to you "accidentally" reading a memo sitting on the desk of someone whose computer you were supposed to be fixing, like this one.

If you think it wouldn't bother your boss, then you should discuss it directly and try to learn how it will impact you, given that most of your assigned work is internal.

If you think your boss would react negatively, then don't bring up the memo at all.

Either way you want to talk about your value to the company, what you have brought to the table so far and what value you will provide in the future. You should be talking about this at least a little continuously, perhaps during weekly one-on-one meetings talking about your projects' status.

  • It's also OK to ask your boss for the criteria they will be using to calculate raises, and to act on the answer. The logical outcome of this policy is that everyone spends all their time on billable projects. – Robin Bennett Nov 13 '19 at 11:33
  • Ah, I see. In which case the logical outcome is that people working on internal projects end up underpaid, and leave for somewhere that will give them the market rate. – Robin Bennett Nov 13 '19 at 12:36
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Since you know the situation accidentally, I think you should approach it more elegantly. I would suggest to give you boss signals, ask him or her out for a talk and address your concerns, but from a third person's perspective.

Hope this helps.

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