We have an internal startup of a new kind of specialized service, staffed with resources from a larger engineering department.

One key Engineer of that startup is leaving the company and their role needs to be covered. The role is broad, requires self-management, and involves many responsibilities within the startup: engineering, dealing with customers, writing product specs, creating and maintaining new technical and business processes of the startup, supporting other engineers, etc. The leaving person is in an Engineer position.

Everyone in the department is either an Engineer or a Senior Engineer with broad responsibilities covering the entire department’s business. For an Engineer to become a Senior Engineer, a position must open (someone leaves), or new Senior Engineer position must be created and approved by corporate. There are no currently open Senior positions and the budget is held tight.

Initially we tried to hire someone from outside, but so far no one capable has applied. One engineer from the same team could potentially fill that role and transfer her current narrow responsibilities to a new hire that we have found. They are interested in taking the role but insist that it is a more senior and more specialized than their current Engineer position describes, thus they are asking for a more senior title and a raise.

We would like them to keep their Engineer title and compensation for now, take the role and suggest that the title (Senior Engineer or something completely new) and raise could be revisited withing the next year, given good performance in the new role.

Edit: Quitting engineer, Internal Candidate, and New Hire have same or similar compensation with some adjustment related to years in the field. Internal Candidate is paid more than the others.

What could be the possible solutions here?

Edit: I hope to help corporate and the Internal Candidate to find a mutually beneficial solution, if that's possible. There is some great material for that in the answers.

Update: Management concluded that all duties are withing the Engineer job description and title/compensation changes are not necessary at this time. To be reviewed in the future. Vacancy is being filled by the new hire. Duties are being redistributed among team members.

Update2: The engineer has quit.

  • 3
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 11:17
  • 2
    Everybody, please, comments have already been moved to chat. Please continue the conversation there.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 21:40
  • 2
    "Update2: The engineer has quit." no surprise there. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 17:34

14 Answers 14


If I may summarize the situation regarding the vacancy:

  • EngineerA left the department (for greener pastures) leaving behind a "key" Engineer vacancy.
  • EngineerB, an internal candidate, seems suitable for this "key" position but requests a promotion to SeniorEngineerB commensurate with the increased responsibilities of this "key" position.
  • No suitable external candidate has been found for the "key" Engineer position, but a new hire EngineerN does seem suitable enough for taking over for EngineerB's old duties assuming EngineerB takes on the "key" position.

From the above it seems clear that the position in question has had its duties outgrow its compensation. EngineerA found employment elsewhere presumably because he could find better compensation there. EngineerB knows their current duties and presumably has a good understanding of the "key" Engineer duties, and felt that promotion sounded reasonable enough to venture that request. Furthermore, as the new hire is deemed suitable for typical Engineer positions but not this "key" Engineer position, it means that even management knows that this "key" role has duties above and beyond their typical "Engineer" new hires.

Now, if I may summarize the management half of the situation:

  • ManagerD (of the department) doesn't want to kick up a request to ManagerC (of corporate) for the special dispensation required to promote a single "Engineer" to "Senior Engineer".
  • ManagerD wants to force EngineerB into the more demanding "key" position with no change in compensation, and wonders whether a noncommittal "Maybe we can revisit the promotion idea in a year?" suggestion will be enough to make the transfer succeed.

Unfortunately, the given information doesn't quite offer up a clear picture of what is actually going on in the company, mostly because everything hinges on the question of "Will management follow through on a promotion in one year, or is that proposal just a ruse?".

  • If it is a ruse, then count on EngineerB leaving in a year with more soon to follow.

  • If it is sincere, then you need to better explain the rationale behind the one-year delay.

Presumably, a petition to corporate is required for either time-frame, and if "...the budget is held tight." applies this year then it seems just as likely to be tight next year too. Furthermore, the current situation shows a clear and present need for the additional spending as the position remains unfilled (presumably leading to missed deadlines, sloppier work, and/or increased department burnout); why would corporate agree to "extra" spending one year into the future for a role that already looks filled as far as they are concerned?

Is the role somehow not worth a full SeniorEngineer paycheck despite being worth clearly more than a regular Engineer paycheck, and the one-year-no-raise plan is a weird scheme to temporarily offset that issue? Or is this "trial period" an attempt to have some sort of insurance against the possibility that EngineerB doesn't thrive in that key position?

Or is there some other issue making "right now" bad timing specifically? Be that an impending quarterly financial report, department spin-off, corporate acquisition, or imminent start-up failure.

Assuming that the proposal to promote is sincere, there are a couple possible solutions:

  • Tell corporate (now) that a key Engineer position is going unfilled leading to various problems, explain how recruitment has found no viable candidates for the job as-posted, and then request upgrading the job posting to Senior Engineer to lure in actual viable candidates.
    Money tends to get more easily thrown at fixing immediate problems than it does at doing routine preventative maintenance. Framing the situation like the above highlights the immediate problem and offers a reasonable cost to fix it; whereas asking to earmark funds for a promotion sounds more like something that can be ignored for a good long while.

  • Offer EngineerB a raise and title change (now) that falls between Engineer and Senior Engineer.
    EngineerB (quite reasonably) wants an increase in compensation commensurate with an increase in duties at the new role... but any specific request for "Senior" status may simply be due to assuming that was the only option. In your maybe-next-year suggestion you mention that "...title (Senior Engineer or something completely new) and raise..." is on the table. If it is in ManagerD's power to simply create a new "Engineer II" or "Key Engineer" title with an associated pay bump, then that might be all they need to secure KeyEngineerB for the role.

  • Write up an actual contract for the trial-period with some actual guarantees toward promotion.
    EngineerB is being offered an increased workload at the same old pay (effectively a demotion) for at least a year... of course they want more assurances than just a suggestion of a possible promotion. Presumably management wants a one-year trial period as insurance against the possibility that EngineerB flounders, but they are currently offering EngineerB less-than-nothing in return for taking the transfer. So what can management offer EngineerB? Maybe management can offer the pay increase (or split the difference) without the title change for the trial-period; possibly even incremental increases as EngB progresses through that year. Maybe a salary increase cannot be authorized without a promotion, but comparably-sized quarterly performance bonuses can be. Maybe management can offer quarterly checkpoints validating EngB's progress instead of springing the decision all-or-nothing at the end of an entire year.

  • Remove bloat from the "key" Engineer role until it resembles a typical Engineer's workload.
    This might not be possible depending on what exactly the role requires, but it does offer another avenue to filling the key vacancy more quickly. Unfortunately, while this could make EngineerB slightly more amenable to the lateral-transfer they will probably still be expecting that promotion later on even if you find that the slimmer role fills the department's needs just fine.

If the proposal to promote was merely a ruse, then I wish all of your best Engineers the brightest of luck in their current and near-future job hunting!

  • 6
    To add to that, making a promise "sincerely" doesn't mean you felt sympathy for them when you said it. It means you've done research, and made sure it was a viable option, and you're committed to devoting time and effort to keep that door open. You don't have to be conscious of a lie in order to be deceitful!
    – employee-X
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 19:14
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    Any 'promise' in the business world without a contract/written agreement is a game for suckers. Whether the manager was sincere or not, a year is a long time and things can easily change leaving the employee with nothing.
    – BryanH
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 22:00
  • @BryanH Absolutely correct; verbal promises/understandings are worth less than the hot-air they're printed on. But, my word-choice of "sincere" was more about framing management's intent as either a willful-deceit (i.e. "ruse") or not. None of my suggestions say "Make that flimsy promise, so long as you don't feel like you're lying when you said it!"... my suggestions were all along the lines of "Since promotion is realistically on the table, try to offer _____ instead of just 'sincere' hot air".
    – DotCounter
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 23:17

What could be the possible solutions here?

The only solution is to provide the correct title and compensation based on the work required for the role.

Whatever title and compensation you are offering to outside candidates should be the same for internal candidates. If that means that a current engineer will receive a title change and raise then you give it to them when they start their new role, not possibly after a year working in the new role.

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    This. Titles are not a finite resource to be carefully guarded and dispensed only rarely. If someone is doing a Senior job, give them the Senior title that they have earned.
    – shoover
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 15:56
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    @shoover. I honestly haven't found the engineer that cares about their title if the pay is right. If OP wants to keep the title at "Engineer", so be it. But don't let that be an excuse to short-change your candidate where it counts. Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 6:42
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    @MadPhysicist My experience is that engineers who are closer to the beginning of their careers are more sensitive to titles than are those of us who have been around the block a few times. After you've been in the workforce awhile you realize there's not a standard list of titles, every company makes up their own, and therefore you shouldn't really care what yours is except whether your relative title matches where you think you should be in the hierarchy.
    – shoover
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 7:17
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    @shoover Well, having a better title is also really important when you are looking to change jobs, which is especially important at the beginning of one's career. It's not the only thing that matters, of course, but looking for a new job is going to be much easier if your title is senior engineer vs junior engineer (with all other things being equal).
    – Ant
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 10:10
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    @MadPhysicist: While I don't care about the title, in general, I do note that in some companies there are things that are keyed on the title: compensation range, promotion opportunities, etc... of course that's all HR "binning", which is quite arbitrary to start with, but it's generally easier to negotiate the title than it is to negotiate an exception to the system... Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 12:00

Your question is confusing, but I'll do the best I can. You've used the word "she" too many times in a dangling fashion (with it being ambiguous as to who "she" refers to). To reframe the question, this appears to be the situation:

You have an engineer (not really an engineer, I'll get to that in a moment) who is leaving the company. You need someone to replace her. You have someone who you think can replace her, but that person recognizes that this new position (the one held by the leaving engineer) is above her salary range, and, if she (the existing engineer) were to try to take this position, she would want a pay raise and title change to match.

That's the situation I'm framing the rest of my answer with, so apologies in advance if my answer is way off base.

Now, the first thing you have to understand is that the person leaving is not an engineer. Her title may be "Engineer", but the way you describe her responsibilities is somewhere between Product Management and Tech Lead. You mentioned 5 responsibilities that she has, only one of which is actually engineering; that makes her not an engineer. So the first thing you need to do is to decide what the role of this person actually is: Are they an engineer, meaning that they do engineering first and foremost, or are they not an engineer, in which case they do some number of these other things, like interfacing with customers, managing technical documents, and mentorship (yes, engineers do mentorship as a matter of course, but when it's laid out as a specific job responsibility it becomes different).

It seems to me that the person you are looking for is either (or some combination of) a Product/Project Manager, a Tech Lead, or a Sales Engineer. Now, you've asked this other engineer, who is actually an engineer, to fill the shoes of those 3 roles. While this second person may be very skilled at their job doing engineering, that doesn't qualify them as a project manager. In fact, it will often disqualify them as a project manager; if they have to interface with clients then they have to have people skills, which is not a quality that engineers are widely attributed to have (to put it lightly, and I say this as an engineer myself). So this person is right to tell you they don't want the job, because you're setting them up to fail (whether you know it or not).

Now, as for not getting qualified applicants: How are you advertising the job? Is the job title "Engineer"? It probably is, given the question. But when you drill down to the job responsibilities, as you've laid out, the job responsibilities are not "engineering" (or they are, in small part). It's no wonder you haven't found qualified candidates; the candidates think they're applying to an engineering job, but they're really applying for all these other things as laid out above. If you're asking them to prep for an engineering interview/role, and then you blindside them by asking them all sorts of other questions, it's no wonder nobody is passing your interview. You probably need to take a serious look at your JD and figure out if it says what it needs to say; it probably doesn't, and you're attracting the wrong people.

Now, as for the final issue, regarding the salary and job title: When you change someone's role, you are changing their role. As a result, they deserve a title change, if only to reflect the work they're doing. When/if this engineer you're putting into this project management role goes to search for another job, if she lists "engineer" on her resume, but then that section is filled with PM responsibilities, someone is going to go "what?", and that's not good for anyone. So, you should decide what title you are giving this new position, and that should simply be the title this person gets. Clearly, as emphasized repeatedly, this position is not engineering, so "engineer" is not a sufficient title; even "senior engineer" is not a sufficient title, simply because the core responsibility of this position is not engineering. You need to figure out what the title is for this position. Furthermore, it sounds like this job requires a lot more work than engineering (as engineering is a subset of this person's responsibilities), meaning that this person probably should be paid more than an engineer, as their responsibilities are a superset of "engineering". So she is right to ask you for a pay raise for taking on additional responsibility.

To summarize: You are wrong on every count: The job you are replacing is not an "engineering" job, so stop looking to fill it with engineers. Your interview is failing because you're attracting the wrong people, specifically engineers to a non-engineering role. And this role has a lot higher responsibilities than simply engineering, so the person taking this role deserves a commensurate title change and salary increase for taking it.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 1:14

You've got three possible solutions:

  1. Go to management and get approval for the role to be made a senior position and give her the raise and promotion she wants. If you've been unable to find an outside hire then that's a good indication that the role is in fact more difficult than a regular engineering role. Take into account what the company would suffer if nobody is found to take on this role, which seems a likely outcome if the engineer decides not to take the role. (You might get some new kind of role created, but in a company of any size that's really difficult.)
  2. Tell her that the role is a normal engineering one, not a senior position, and she would have to take it on that basis. You can point out that the increased responsibility will be good for her career in the long run. Be aware that this approach might result in her not taking the role, or worse looking for another job.
  3. Tell her that the role might be made a senior position at some time in the future, and hope she takes it on that basis. To give you an idea of how unsuccessful this is likely to be, check out the answers on this site warning people not to believe promises from companies that something "might" happen in the future (and the similar comments on this post). It's never a good idea to make promises you don't know you can keep. Even if you fully intend to try to make this happen, things might prevent you and she will assume you have lied.

There are no alternatives. Make your choice as to whether this is a senior role or not, and make the offer accordingly.

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    I’d think carefully before implementing (3). It’s super difficult to follow through on a promise to promote “at some point in the future”. Unless you can actually guarantee this (which you clearly cannot), it’s borderline unethical to offer it.
    – Others
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 23:41
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    There is a fourth alternative: ensure her she will get the promotion in a year, but we can't right now. Get her in writing she will in 12 months. Explain her it's a compromise.
    – Konerak
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 12:13
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    "the increased responsibility will be good for her career in the long run" how so?
    – njzk2
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 13:06
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    @KorvinStarmast That sounds exactly the same as paying an artist with exposure. Also sounds like a good way to lose the employee after they have grown into the responsibilities and then go elsewhere where they're actually paid for for their more difficult job. True or not, no one is fooling anyone with that line. It's code for "we want you to do more difficult work but not pay you for it."
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 21:57
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    I have never once seen a case where a company said "revisit it in 6 months" or "We'll examine it at your next annual review" and actually gotten what was being put off. If I were this engineer, I would write off promises of future promotion as irrelevant to my motivations right now. All it tells me is that the company doesn't want to pay me for my efforts until they absolutely have to. Historically, the pattern has been that I get the extra duties, then six months later, no pay-rise. I leave it another few months, poke at the issue a few times, and then my next job pays me 10 - 15k better. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 13:18

Re-state the problem and the solutions become more obvious

You are asking for the solution to a very narrow problem: one engineer who doesn't want the job you want to give her. What you need to do is broaden your problem statement:

"No internal or external candidates can be found for the title, pay, and responsibilities of the position." Note that this includes the person who already quit.

The solutions to this problem are numerous, but will circle around changing the title, pay, and/or responsibilities of the position.

  • entice the engineer to take the position through non-monetary means
  • change the role description and/or title to one more amenable to the engineer or to outside applicants
  • split the role into two positions
  • raise the monetary and/or nonmonetary compensation for the position
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    "change the role description and/or title": if you have someone competent to do the job, they will likely want the pay commensurate with the job regardless of what you call it. Better not play too many semantic games, else you might start believing in them yourself. Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 6:49
  • @MadPhysicist, some people are driven by titles, which do help in a job change
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 17:16

Pay more, give them the title.

Initially we tried to hire someone from outside, but so far no one capable has applied.

Demand outstrips supply. Prices (wages) go up.

Your bargaining position is lousy.

Either that or your company image is poor and no one good wants to touch it. That also requires more pay.

One engineer from the same team could potentially fill that role and transfer her current narrow responsibilities to a new hire that we have found.

You can find less qualified people, but not the people you want. You need to offer more to get what you want. It's that simple.

And the engineers know it and won't take promises or waffle. Quite possibly that's something the company has done before, but even if not you have no power here.

She is interested in taking the role but insists that it is a more senior and more specialized that her current Engineer position describes. In other words, asks for a more senior title and a raise.

Translation : She understands you have no options and is doing exactly what she should and can.

We would like her to keep her Engineer position and compensation for now, take the role and suggest that the title (Senior Engineer or something completely new) and raise could be revisited withing the next year, given good performance in the new role.

Vague promises - she'd be a fool to take that.

Would any of your management team? No. Don't expect the engineers to.

Note : engineers tend (for good reasons) to have a distrust of management, so promises will be seen as worse that nothing. They'll be read as "BS".

Edit: Quitting engineer, Internal Candidate, and New Hire have same or similar compensation with some adjustment related to years in the field. Internal Candidate is actually already paid the most of them.

Completely irrelevant. She's what you need and cannot get. Her bargaining position is superior and she doesn't have to settle. Arguments like that make you look even weaker.

Moreover if you refuse to accept her terms she'll likely feel very bitter and will, sooner or later, leave for better. So you'll lose another valuable engineering asset. It's also possible that failure to promote and pay more will lose you even more staff as they'll fully understand they work for a low paying company that under-values them.

Corporate wants to low ball this. That's the problem, not the solution.

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    This is the only correct answer. Management needs to suck it up and stop playing games; if they actually want to hire and keep top talent, they need to stop nickel-and-diming that talent. Because contrary to what most managers believe, their staff (especially in tech) are not fungible idiots with no idea of what they're worth, nor do they appreciate being treated as such. This, more than anything, is what the so-called "great resignation" is about.
    – Ian Kemp
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 14:29
  • Absolutely agree. And, really is "The role is broad, requires self-management, and involves many responsibilities within the startup: engineering, dealing with customers, writing product specs, creating and maintaining new technical and business processes of the startup, supporting other engineers, etc." a non-senior engineer role? Heck no.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 21:30
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    This is spot on. The issue is created by the company wanting to have a simple-for-them compensation and title structure they believe they can sell as "fair" because everyone is treated the same. If they want to be fair to the employees then they will pay each of them what they are individually worth in the market; otherwise they can expect this very problem. It's obvious they can't find the person they want at the pay they're offering which leaves a single, simple solution.
    – Dave D
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 22:30
  • I note that after a new update to the question the engineer in question has quit. The price of a stupid management team. I imagine many more will follow that engineer and vote with their feet. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 17:53

What could be the possible solutions here?

The person wants X to take the role. You explicitely don't want to give them X, but instead dangle the promise of maybe eventually looking into maybe eventually giving them X later.

Well, if you are a good salesman and the engineer is naive, you may get them to take the role anyway, work on it, be disappointed when you give them neither raise nor title later and have them quit after the wisen up, too.

Or you maybe negotiate and meet them half way. That's up to you.

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    Whatever "half-way" means, it usually just means the department ends up taking the slack, the company never goes "fully" into the promotion, and the engineer leaves. There's no reason for the engineer to do this if another company is willing to pay for the promotion.
    – Nelson
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 15:19
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    @Nelson. Yup. Either way, you end up with a disgruntled engineer that thinks you're a crap company. Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 6:47

I'm not sure whether this is an answer or more of a long comment, but here goes (and all IMHO)

Graham is correct on commitment. If the OP's company won't offer a binding contract, then their promise is frankly worthless. It's far too easy to decide that 'something came up' or 'it'll take several more months'.

Ertai87 is correct when he points out that the OP's company is failing on hiring, and probably because they can't or won't decide on what they actually want, and are asking for the famous purple squirrel. Since it looks like their business runs on purple squirrels (good engineers with good management and sales/client management skills), they either need to grow them well or hire them well.

One thing which has not been mentioned is that this is the hottest job market in 20 years. This is a once in a career job market, and people who are doing a good job should critically evaluate what their current employer is offering, and jump ship if it's not good enough. The OP's company is behind the market with one 'key' person leaving and no good people accepting their offer. In fact, they should spend some time, effort and money keeping more key people from leaving.

  • Very few employers think like that unfortunately.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 15:47
  • Example: I had a coworker who wanted to get his Masters and the company said they would pay for it. After he got his Masters the company told him that the work they do there didn't need a Masters so they wouldn't pay for it. This was a small company too. Not like one person said one thing and another person said another thing later.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 23:37

So you want the regular engineer to do senior engineer work but not for the seniors salary. You say nobody suitable applied. You now have the chance to fill the post internally but first need to find out if there is not a chance to nickle-and-dime your current employee.

Well good luck to get your employees to do more advanced work and take more responsibility for no financial reward. You plainly risk alienating this employee of yours and you should not be surprised if in the near future you have two engineer post that you cannot fill.

The problem is you expect the employee to compromise when he is under no obligation to do so. He knows exactly how hard you find it to replace candidates. He also knows it would be much easier for him to replace his employer than it would be for his employer to replace his employees. He in fact has all the power and you are under the delusion that this is not the case.

You are one of those ageless types of employers. One who recognizes good work and has no problem making profit of this good work, but when the people who enable your business insists on their cut you always have 100 reasons why that cannot happen. All I can say is good luck this attitude is something your company will eventually regret.


We would like her to keep her Engineer position and compensation for now, take the role and suggest that the title (Senior Engineer or something completely new) and raise could be revisited withing the next year, given good performance in the new role.

This could be a viable solution. It's not at all uncommon that people get "promoted" info a position they're de-facto already doing. However that tends to be evolutionary, whereas you're talking about doing this intentionally, and without a guarantee.

The obvious fix is to make it guaranteed. Define some criteria for success, agreed with your candidate, and make sure they're SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time- bounded). Define the pay and position rewards they'll get if they meet all of them. Define the pay and position rewards they'll get if they only meet some of them. Define what happens if she's unlucky and a pandemic wipes out everyone's assumptions of business-as-usual trading. Then everyone knows where they stand.

Also, importantly, get signatures on that from people in the organisation with the authority to create new positions and with the authority to award pay increases. This needs to be legally binding on the company, in the same way as r rest of her employment contract.

It's not unusual for employees to be faced with the "we know we said we'd do that, but we can't afford it now" situation. Frankly it looks like your candidate knows she can't trust you. The only way to solve this is to make sure that trust is not required, and the only way through that is to completely formalize the process.

  • That's interesting, and maybe theoretically possible... but would it be an efficient use of managerial, executive and legal resources? You're talking about implementing a novel legal contract together with a novel performance incentive program, with minimal ROI (only affects a single employee's salary for a short period of time). I could see this solution easily being more expensive than a pay-raise for the first year.
    – employee-X
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 19:08
  • 1
    @employee-X It's not exactly conceptually novel - it's merely putting that promise on paper with people's signatures on it. The novel part is not letting management get away with screwing you over.
    – Graham
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 20:46
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    It is if performance-contingent compensation is a new thing for this company. S.M.A.R.T may very well be novel to the team supervisor.
    – employee-X
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 21:59
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    @employee-X If it's a new thing for the company, then the employee 100% knows that any suggestion they might get payback for the extra effort they'd put in is a complete lie. Not merely good intentions that don't work out, but a straight lie to their face with full knowledge that it can never, ever happen. And that's why the OP can't get their buy-in.
    – Graham
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 21:40
  • Except that the employee hasn't heard your suggestion, yet. However, I agree in spirit. I can't imagine a situation where I'd trust a company to keep this kind of promise, unless I'd seen a close co-worker get the same deal fulfilled.
    – employee-X
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 19:02

We would like her to keep her Engineer position and compensation for now, take the role and suggest that the title (Senior Engineer or something completely new) and raise could be revisited withing the next year, given good performance in the new role

This is a load of crap. This is like paying hot dog prices to get filet mignon at your local grocery store, and telling the owner that you'll think about paying filet mignon prices next year. Really?

No talented person worth their salt is going to go for that kind of game today. A kid fresh out of college? Maybe. I'm always baffled how management pays IT people to analyze and assess all aspects of their business via a mix of hard facts and conclusions all day every day, and when it comes to money-on-the-table the management expects them to drop all those analytical skills and carry on like simpletons.

Pay people what they're worth.

  • There is a rational basis for accepting that deal: you work exactly as long as you need to prove to yourself that it is the direction you want to be going in. And then you flip around and start looking to jump ship. Not exactly the kind of incentives you want your employees to have lol.
    – Petter TB
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 22:53

Give her the title, responsibility and salary and make it that it will be reviewed in 6 months or 1 year according to performance.

Be fair and make the kpi’s relevant and achievable. Motivate and you may get more than you expect…

  • This would sound like offering a possible demotion in a year. Such a demotion would have to be for a demonstrable cause, or it will be terribly damaging to morale (of all employees). It seems clear that the company can't rely on interchangeable gig workers.
    – o.m.
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 7:22
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    I always wonder about promises like that. What constitutes good performance? What happens if the performance is not good and only adequate? Does she still keep doing the same job? Is the company hoping the performance is passable but not excellent so they can keep getting the work done for the same pay?
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 23:29
  • @DKNguyen You can call it "Acting" or "Interim". XYZ will be Acting Chief Widget Wrangler while the position is being filled. This gives you an option to work with XYZ and make it permanent or to gracefully announce that ABC has been hired to take over from XYZ and thank you XYZ for doing a wonderful job as Acting Chief. (But it does make the title permanent for that job, when what it sounds like is up to now the Chief Widget Wrangler has actually just be called Normal Employee, so probably the incoming person would expect to be compensated appropriately....) Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 22:39

We would like her to keep her Engineer position and compensation for now, take the role and suggest that the title (Senior Engineer or something completely new) and raise could be revisited withing the next year, given good performance in the new role.

Definitely worth a try. But pay close attention to the employee's response. Keep in mind that the value of future promises depends a lot on the context. Competing firms will also make plenty of future promises, so there is a risk that the future promises become a wash, unless consistently reinforced with positively-perceived action on behalf of management.


The NZ public service used to have (i.e. some time last century when I worked there) something called a Higher Duties Allowance, which was paid to an employee who was covering a position (e.g. one of our managers went on sick leave for cancer for around 6 months). If the senior employee fails to return (e.g. that manager died), the junior person may be the logical successor, but the Department doesn't want to change their pay grade yet. Maybe you could use a similar mechanism.

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