29

I asked for a raise recently and was denied a raise. I explained the the amount of work I do and the quality I produce was undervalued compared to the average around my area.

Now I have been doing a lot more than my colleagues who are getting paid more and often take the credit for my ideas. I put up with it because I figured I will be able to get a raise as indicated on the contract that after the probationary period I will be able to discuss my salary. My manager told me they do this after the year is over which is different from what was laid out in the contract.

Now I feel like extremely unmotivated. What is my next step here?

32

You have several ways forward:

  • Look for another job, then quit.
  • Wait till the formal review time comes. You may still be disappointed.
  • Have a word with your HR department - if your contract says something and things are not working out according to the contract, the company is in breach of contract. See how they manage it (they might not). Let them know you expect an answer within two weeks (or however much you are comfortable with).
  • Discuss this with your manager directly - explain that the contract both you and the company representatives signed are different.

The first two approaches mean there is no confrontation at this time - you can continue working, knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel (your notice period or the formal review).

The last two may cause bad feelings - I would suggest taking the HR route over the manager route, as you have already discussed matters with your manager (your manager may not know the details of your contract - unless you have pointed them out).

  • 1
    I would probably do 1) 3) and 4) – Tom Squires Sep 2 '12 at 14:06
  • Best answer by far! – Jake Sep 3 '12 at 20:44
  • I would not put a time constraint on HR to start. I would follow up in a few days if you do not hear anything, then every few days after. Unless you are prepared to take action then giving HR A deadline is pointless. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 4 '12 at 13:45
  • 1
    @Oded - The author needs to be prepared for what can happen if he complains about his salary at this point. In many cases the company could let him go, because who wants somebody who is unhappy working for them, they don't even have to in many cases provide a reason for doing so. My suggestion is start looking for a a new job for the simple fact, anything the company offers you at this point, is tainted by the fact they know you want additional money and were denied it. – Donald Sep 5 '12 at 13:34
  • I don't see how the contract plays into it. The contract states that a raise will be considered after a certain date. It was considered and denied. – stannius Oct 19 '15 at 16:54
15

You already have some good answers going the other way, so for the sake of illustration I'm going to assume for a moment that your employer is acting in good faith, and point out some ways you may be misconstruing the situation.

It is very common for raises to get discussed once per year. There's nothing at all unusual about a company asking you to wait until then. Just because your contract prohibits negotiating a raise before your probation ends doesn't mean one will automatically be granted as soon as your probation is up. The one exception to that policy I can see is if you lacked the necessary credentials for the job, such as a job that normally requires a college degree, so an initial lower salary was deliberately agreed upon in order to compensate the employer for assuming the risk of an uncredentialed candidate.

You are not in as good a position to evaluate other people's contributions as you think you are. New employees are often given high-volume assignments that are easy to measure progress on. Long time employees spend a lot more time on creative endeavors, planning long term projects, and answering other people's questions.

As far as other people stealing your ideas, there are a couple possibilities here. The first is that depending on the context, the work of individual members of a team, including ideas, is often considered to have come from the team, not the individual. This is very different from school where individual credit is paramount. If someone is representing their team's ideas to a larger group, no one assumes the person presenting came up with the ideas personally. You will get individual credit in the contexts where it matters.

Another situation that frequently happens is a more experienced employee will be asked to mentor a new employee on a task, even though they don't do any of the actual work on it themselves. If the mentor is talking to your boss about that topic, it is often perfectly clear to them that you are the one doing the actual work and coming up with the ideas, even if it isn't explicitly pointed out. As I've been in your position before, I make a concerted effort to explicitly point out when I am passing along a new employee's idea, but not everyone is good at that.

Try to assume the best possible motive from people. If you still think they're taking advantage of you, don't tell your ideas to them anymore. Be more assertive about speaking up about your ideas in the larger groups.

  • I find what you outline to be far more common then what the author actually believes is the case. – Donald Sep 5 '12 at 13:36
  • "It is very common for raises to get discussed once per year." This assumption can be counter-productive. Some management may not even bring up the topic of raises unless an employee brings it to them. – Chris C Sep 6 '12 at 17:54
8

First, for the sake of your own career, the very worst action you can take is to behave as if you are unmotivated. You are still being paid (a salary you agreed to) and you still owe them the work they are paying for.

Next, you need to learn a bit about office politics. Yes even in programming you need to know and practice office politics. Why didn't you get a raise? Perhaps they don't see you as as valuable as you see you. Now that may be a misperception on their part or one on yours. So act to fix the misperception. First, start speaking up about your ideas. Document them. If others are actually getting credit for your ideas then that is entirely your fault for not letting management know they were your ideas first.

Next you need to really examine of you are as valuable as you think you are. This is really tough but many people espcially those with less experience overrate their skills. Often they also underrate the contributions of everyone else because they are not really aware of what those people have done or are assigned to do.

So the first step is to have an honest talk with your manager about performance not pay raises. Ask him what you need to do to improve your performance. Tell him you want to be his star performer and need to know how you can get there. And listen carefully to his answer without arguing his points. Really think about them. Even if they are wrong, why does he think that about you? What can you do to change his perception? If he tells you that your performance is fine, then you are in a better place to get that annual pay raise. If he has things you need to change, then change those things.

Performance and pay raises aren't just about who writes the most code either, attitude is a big part of it. Teamwork is a big part of it. Learning the business domain is a big part of it.

Do I recommend that you search for another job right now? No. First you need to work on your political skills and whatever performance issues you boss may bring up. Fix these things first before looking for a different job so that you will have a better chance to be happier in your new job. There is no point in changing jobs just because one thing made you unhappy at the first job. All jobs will have something to make you unhappy.

7

It might be helpful to think about some of the fundamental issues at your workplace. Is it really about the money? Or are there other issues with the culture that have gotten you down and you've convinced yourself that you're willing to put up with them for current compensation + X?

Here are some cherry-picked words from your original question:

  1. Quality
  2. Doing a lot more
  3. Take the credit for my ideas
  4. Put up with it

At this point, you need to make some choices:

  1. Do you want to keep working there for any amount of money? If not, write up your reasons for leaving before interviewing. It's best to have a solid script: "I'm looking for more responsibility" is a nice way of saying "I was under-appreciated" without sounding petty.
  2. If you'd like to stay, have the conversation with HR first. Understand exactly what you signed up for and what the company needs to provide to you.
  3. If HR says you're entitled to a salary review, schedule a meeting with your manager that only has that on the agenda. Don't lead with "this is our contractually and HR-mandated review" but have the name of the HR person written down if you need it.
  4. If that review goes well, you've learned a lot about working within a process to get what you want. If not, return to step one.
6

When you say others are taking the credit for your ideas, is this because they are actually implementing your ideas or because they are actually taking credit and dominating conversations?

If they are dominating conversations, you need to put some work into your own self-awareness and how to deal with different types of personalities in your team. It's different for every personality type, but if you're being unwillingly dominated by others then quitting and changing jobs won't solve your problem.

One note of caution - if you're 'putting up with it', you may be appearing to be calm and unbothered on the surface, but at some point you're going to blow and it could cost you your job. Be careful of how you talk with HR - if you are going to be pointing fingers at other people having stolen your ideas and taken credit, make sure it's true and that you have evidence that this wasn't just 'teamwork'.

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