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Got a new manager, and told them I would like a pay rise as I have not had one for a few years.

Manager told me they have not managed me long enough to put that proposal forward, they told me prove to them in the next 6 months how good I am and we will do it. My current wage is about 20% below market value but I have a lot of friends at the company and enjoy the work, it's also local.

6 months forward, I worked my ass off for them to prove it, working late, finished a 2-year long project and had my invention finally granted (after 5 years however).

We reviewed my work and my manager tells me my work is fantastic, can't fault it. No feedback for improvement, other than to keep it up.

They propose it to the person above them (who I've never met but is head of whole department), and seriously after no pay rise for 3 years, they offer me a £1000 pay rise and a job title improvement. Manager says sorry it's not what you expected, nothing they can do, try again in another 6 months.

What can I even do? I spoke to a couple other managers who I'm friendly with and they told me the guys a hard nut and going to him directly is high risk. Plus I've never met him so he does not know what I'm doing day to day. Company has done very well during covid so its not even like they are struggling, and its a very big company. (Engineering development). Advice please?

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  • 105
    You can get another job or you can take what they choose to give you. Simple as that.
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 5 at 23:31
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    @Curious Diode, Would you please clarify if they give you a salary increase of £1000 per month or per year ? I assume that would be £1000 per year... Is it correct ? Jun 6 at 0:39
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    @Curious Diode, You wrote that the company gave you no salary increase for 3 years, and your salary is 20% below the market ? Wow, that is very unusual. Many people would have started looking for a new job if they were you. Jun 6 at 0:41
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    @DenisG.Labrecque: Going from 20% below market value to market value is a raise of 25%, not 20%. ;) Jun 6 at 16:39
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    "a £1000 pay rise" is largely meaningless. If you're earning £1000, that's a huge 100% pay rise. If you're earning £100000, that's just a tiny 1%. A percentage would be much more meaningful, although it would only really be useful for telling you whether it's a significant raise, which you may already know the answer to (and, if not, asking what a reasonable raise is would probably fit better in a separate question).
    – NotThatGuy
    Jun 6 at 19:04
76

Goals

In your post and in your title, you have not explicitly stated what you want to achieve. You have to formulate that first to receive better tailored advice and to reassure yourself. For now, I will just assume that you want a significant salary increase.

But what is significant? You will have to decide for yourself with what kind of increase you will be satisfied to stay. You have to weigh the good factors – short commute, friends at the company, enjoyable – against the bad. You have to know what you want before you negotiate. You can only get what you want if you know what you want!

Perspective

You mention that you earn 20% less than market value and you were offered a £1000 pay rise. How much £1000 is in relative terms depends greatly on your salary. For now, let's just assume you earn £50,000. You also mention you have not had a pay rise in 3 years! Inflation in the last three years in the UK (you use pound sterling) was 0.85%, 1.79%, 2.48%. In order to not lose purchasing power, a 50,000 salary should now be 52,600. That's the absolute, bare minimum. Everything under a £2,600 increase is a pay cut.

Assuming a market rate of 50,000 means if you're underpaid by 20%, you're earning 40,000. You could get a 10,000 (25%) pay rise by switching companies. Keep this in mind.

Internal trouble

Manager told me they have not managed me long enough to put that proposal [the pay rise] forward, they told me prove to them in the next 6 months

Sorry, that is bullshit. You have been played for a fool. You earn 20% less than the market rate and even an immediate £2,600 pay rise would have been just inflation. It was the old carrot in front of the donkey's face trick. "Work real hard for half a year and we'll see what we can do for you."

In any case, the alleged budgetary problems within your company that managers often cite are really not your problem. Do not make them your problem. Let them stay your manager's problem. At the end of the day, do you really care whether your salary increase:

  • Comes out of Department Y's or Department X's budget.
  • Means your boss won't be able to buy a second Porsche for his son.
  • Comes in blue or green coffers.

You don't care. You are not your manager and not your manager's manager. You will not be valued for accepting a lower salary. To be quite honest, underpaying someone is exactly the opposite of valueing someone!

Your manager

Your manager is not your friend! You should have gotten a 2,600 increase for inflation alone. He could have increased your salary by 10,000 simply by assuming nothing about you and going with an average salary.

And what did your manager do? He tricked you into overworking yourself. You have sacrificed your free time and your health for the company!

I worked my ass off for them to prove it, working late

Going forward

There's a ton of tips about salary negotiations. But one thing is clear: There is no better time than after a successfully finished project.

Find out what would be acceptable for you and get that.

After finding out I earned less than the colleagues' whose work I reviewed, I negotiated a 15% salary increase last year. It's very much possible to get raises like this, but you won't simply be handed them.

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    The truth is that this 15% raise you got (and congrats for this) after this hard negotiation will probably discard you for any raise in the coming years (because "hey you got a very substantial raise in 2021 already"), while probably bringing your salary higher than these persons you review only temporarily. There's a big chance you will have to negotiate again that hard in 3 years, rince and repeat.
    – Laurent S.
    Jun 6 at 9:20
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    "Don't be a statistic". Even the average pay gets dragged down by low offers: after my recent job search, offers had 20-25% variance. Inevitably, the lower paying places have some reason they are so special not to meet your budget. Jun 6 at 11:11
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    I disagree. I think there is no better time than just before a successfully finished project. Jun 6 at 15:25
  • What @A.I.Breveleri says. If the project is quite close to finish is when your position is the strongest: your replacement cost is never higher. They don't care if OP leaves now, the project is done, they got their cheap work for 3 years. A couple of months ago however? they would have to scramble to somehow get the project finished
    – Hobbamok
    Jun 7 at 12:07
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    @LaurentS. But in the interim, you can count on at least inflationary pay rises. If you aren't even getting an inflationary pay rise, and the company doesn't have a real cashflow reason for it, then sure, playing hardball with them every year may be necessary, but that's the way it goes. The point is that this kind of raise is a reflection of what you've already done at the date you got it, so it's not relevant to anything after that. That's the line to take if they try that particular snow-job on you.
    – Graham
    Jun 7 at 14:07
23

This is an important career management skill to learn.

First, you have to decide on what you actually want and are willing to accept. That includes how much you’re willing to risk your current job, and how much $ the other positive attributes other than the money are worth to you. If you’re not really willing to leave over a 20% raise and think it’d be hard to get another job at least as good as your current one, you have many fewer options.

If you are willing to change jobs over the current situation, then take their offer and immediately start looking for new jobs using the new job title as leverage, and once you get an offer in hand that’s better (whatever mix of money, location, etc combines to mean "better" to you personally) you take it and give notice.

If you are not willing to leave over this (and that's fair, despite what Internet Tough Guys have to say, not everyone has infinite job opportunities and other restrictions like location may be legitimately more important to you than money), you have to work your internal system and be more assertive. Get a good number that you think is a solid market comp for your position/location. Go to your boss and have another discussion. Here's a sample script.

“I’d like to talk about my compensation again.”

“Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

“I have confidence that you can do something about this if you’re motivated. I really enjoy working here but have been underpaid for a while and have been working hard at great benefit to the company. People of my qualifications can easily get $X in a new position right now. I would think I’m even more valuable here given my specific expertise and proven track record (and invention etc., recap your achievements over your whole employment). If I am fairly compensated I see no reason not to keep contributing to our success at this level. I’d like this brought to the attention of the department head, can I get your help in that or would you prefer that I do it?”

Be polite but stick to your guns. Do not accept further delays.

This is designed to be an assertive but not insolent pitch that makes it clear that

  • you know what you are worth, specifically
  • you know you are not being fairly compensated
  • you are not letting that go and expect direct action
  • you are committed to the company
  • you are valuable to the company
  • you know that your management chain has the power to address this
  • your boss has a choice of either going to bat for you or you escalating it above his head, the latter of which never looks good for the boss

There is always something your boss can try to do, even in very process-bound organizations. To be blunt, he’s just not wanting to use his 6 months of accumulated political clout on you and your raise. But if he understands that he could also lose some of that clout by you leaving or even at best escalating past him, he may reconsider.

But he may not, and he and his boss may just take the hard line with you of "Our hands are tied" (which means "We don't care; no"), in which case you may just have to take what they’ll give you if you’re not willing to actually change jobs. Leverage is what makes things happen.

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    Maybe it's just me, but I read "I have confidence that you can do something about this if you’re motivated" as "You've been lazy or indifferent up to now". And the implication that you'd leave if not paid fairly and/or take it over their head with or without their approval seems like you only care about money, it's rather close to an ultimatum and it undermines their authority (or at least that's how I'd take it). "Ballsy" or not, if someone says that to me, I'd probably have a strong urge to just shut that down, one way or the other (even if I agree that they're underpaid).
    – NotThatGuy
    Jun 6 at 19:32
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    The other option is to get nothing, so pushing hard is the only effective option. As long as it’s not so hard that they fire you there is nothing to lose. Yes, the first sentence is designed to take them aback so they shut up and actually listen to you. If you’ve already exploited an employee to this extent, then being nicer and sucking up more isn’t going to get you to act.
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 6 at 23:08
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    @NotThatGuy My take on it, is that it is an ultimatum. Sometimes ultimatums can be ok if you are willing to follow through. The manager has already shown himself to be useless by not offering market rate immediately and infact making him Carrot on a Stick for 6 months. To essentially get extra work at the same garbage pay. Jun 7 at 17:08
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Assuming the job market is open in your region/sector, your best option is probably to start right away looking for a new position. Sure, you could try to negociate for a decent raise, but that would only be a waste of time and efforts, and lead to even more frustration. You should probably have done that 6 months ago already...

Your current company has now made it clear how much they value and respect your work. Not only once, but twice at least. First by underpaying you apparently for years, then by giving you a miserable raise after getting 6 additional months of even harder work. As a worker you deserve respect and a decent pay and you're getting none of them there. Expecting this might change over time or with any negotiation is at best very optimistic.

After some bad experiences like yours in the past I got quite some improvement in my career when I started thinking and acting like that. Job market is called like that for a reason, and in a very competitive sector, brands (employers) need to show respect to their customers (employees) if they don't want to lose them.

1
  • "After some bad experiences like yours in the past I got quite some improvement in my career when I started thinking and acting like that" well said, it's a fantastic example we hope OP jumps on.
    – Fattie
    Jun 6 at 12:29
1

I had a similar situation, so I'll tell you my story and let you make your own decision.

The first company I work as a software developer had a complete change of management, then hired hired my boss, 2 other devs, and then me. We worked hard to completely rewrite and even reimagine the +15 year old software suite from scratch. After 3 years, they fired my boss. Six months later, they fired one of the devs they had hired before me, who was also the supervisor. Both were supposedly due to dragging the team down.

So instead of promoting anyone, they hired direct replacements. Around 3 months later, an ultimatum came down to us devs that we had 3 months to do what amounted to 9 months work. They presented it as a "90 day challenge", but not taking this challenge was essentially quitting, even though they didn't say that explicitly. Some of this was work we'd been trying to get management to do, but they focused on new features instead of technical debt and continuing to convert old functionality into the new software.

For me, I'd been getting small raises, yet stellar yearly reviews up to that point, but then I was told I wasn't doing work up to par and needed to pass a performance improvement plan (PIP) to stay employed. This was also exactly the same thing as the ultimatum they presented me.

I knew that I was getting paid $10k less than even a first year dev in that area, so when they only gave me a $1000 raise, I knew it was time to leave, and then the ultimatum on top of that was just more reason to leave. I started looking for a job immediately as well as making a real effort to do the 90 day challenge. That last bit was so they couldn't say anything bad about me after I left, or if they did, I could contest it, if it really even mattered. Also, it was cover for job hunting.

After 90 days, I had completed the PIP with the requirements shifted constantly and considerably, and a new job in hand. The PIP wasn't even to get me a raise to industry standard, just to keep my job, so I took the job that gave me a $17k raise, was less stress, fewer hours, and better management. As they say, "it was a no brainer".

Here's a side bit to show how little they cared I left after 4 years: they gave an exit interview to a guy that left after only 6 months, but not me. They also expected me to work until 5 pm on my last day and only then clean out my cubicle.

If you want to think that my work or attitude had changed causing all this, you'd be slightly correct. When we went from an Agile to waterfall style of management, the management wanted to require lower Planning Poker Points on tasks, less time per task, and more Points per Sprint, of course my attitude is going to change, including my ability to do good work. Not to mention that when I started, the management had a family atmosphere, only to take a sharp corporate change, then tell us devs that the customers hate the software, when they'd been saying it was loved just a month earlier.

We were gaslight by how our software was received by the customers, either by how good it was or by how bad it was, or maybe both. I don't know and I don't care, but it was wrong either way. It was also wrong to blame it on the devs when the sales dept kept selling features that hadn't been decided on, managers deciding what work is done, as well as managers keeping changing the Definition of Done and how the features were supposed to even work or look.

If this sounds like your situation at all, you need to simply find a new job. Yes, I said I'd leave the decision up to you, and it still is, but do you really have a decision when you've been shown by your managers that they don't really care about you?

I'm currently in the job market again and I know how hard it is to find work right now. You probably hear that the job market is flooded right now. Well, that's somewhat true, but the requirements by many employers is unrealistic. From the gargantuan list of skills, technology, and experience they list to the requirement that "remote" means "local", it's pretty difficult to find a new job. I've put in over 300 applications and haven't heard back from many, even with my significant experience and wide range of skills.

Saying that, you should find a new job before leaving your current one. Not only will quitting you job likely disqualify you from getting unemployment benefits, but finding a job is always easier when you already have a job.

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    Just so you know, many shady companies and smaller-mid-size companies will use PIP's as a form of gaslighting, or an excuse for why they can't give you a bonus when they're tight on money or just want to redirect funds elsewhere. The PIP, in seemingly all cases, is a sign that the relationship is doomed, for one reason or another. There's no reason to complete it, unless you're stalling for the new offer / money. In fact.... if spiteful, I'd stall indefinitely at minimum effort to see how long it took them to fire, just to drain their cash like they drained ur spirit. I haven't done that tho
    – schizoid04
    Jun 7 at 23:08
0

Words are cheap

They can tell you tales how fantastic your work is because it costs them nothing. They can promise you golden mountains in the future because it costs them nothing.

But when it comes to facts, they offer your only a small rise, and you are still underpaid.

This should show you, how much they really value your work.

Take this as a valuable lesson. Don't make your decisions basing on praises and promises, but on the facts.

It's your decision if you want to stay and look for other job and nobody will help you making that decision, but if you consider staying, don't assume you'll get a significant raise in 6 months, only because your manager promises you he will try hard. Assume there will be no raise or peanuts.

0

The idea that they haven't managed you long enough to move that proposal forward is poo poo.

This is an excuse / gaslighting to delay. Whatever the situation is, management will try to delay the raise. He'll probably even report to his manager that you tried asking for one, and that he successfully pushed back and told you to wait 6 months. That's part of his job - To keep you in line with what they're paying you now and still producing work

Then the mini-pay raise they give you - This is another form of gaslighting.

Essentially, if they've already given you a tiny pay bump, you'll look weird asking for more. They may even say, our system only allows us to change it every so often, or why you being greedy, etc. It's all garbage.

The moment you discover you're 20% under your market value, you need to research, put the information together, and seek the next job offer. Maybe ask for the raise with that information first, but start working on applications as well.

Which leads to the next thing.... Go to mgmt with a job offer and tell them you're leaving. You will be amazed how quickly they drop everything, start taking you to 3 seperate meetings trying to find out how much you're getting paid, bad-mouthing whatever company you're going to, trying to make you feel bad for leaving, and ultimately offering to match the same amount or even pay you slightly more, depending on things.

In the end, you'll wind up wanting to take the other offer (hopefully), and not get gaslit, because you are in a very specific situation right now.

Behind all of their corporate jargon, THEY ARE TELLING YOU you have hit your pay ceiling at this company. If you want to make more, you essentially will have to leave.

It will be a friction-filled, bitter uphill battle otherwise. What you're experiencing is very stereotypical "push it 6 months down the road" type of stuff that managers do, or promising a promotion that never comes, etc. they'll just keep stringing you along.

You could bluff them and say you have an offer, to force their hand into giving you a bump to retain you, but it would be better to get one in reality, Watch them beg, realizing all of their BS, and then leave to greener pastures.

-1

The iron rule of all jobs is, if you do not get a substantial raise at 9.00 AM the day after your first 12 months, then at 9.01 AM start seeking your next job.

Seek it aggressively as possible, and move on as soon as possible, no matter what.

It was a huge mistake that OP unfortunately did not do this, after the first 12 months.

Unfortunately we cannot turn back time on mistakes, we can only: absolutely ensure we never make the mistake again.

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