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When should I ask for more money in conjunction with more responsibility?

This happens very often in many companies. I think I'm at a very early stage of my career and I'm still unsure how should react to this scenarios.

Say you are a developer on a team of 4 members, your manager is busy most of the time dealing with other stuff as he has more teams or other activities, hence he struggles to give the dev team enough of his time. He talks with a member and offers him to move him to a "lead developer role". This implies the member will start managing the team in all administrative aspects, coordinate the development BUT still be coding. Although this represents career development at the moment your salary will remain the same. Of course (like everywhere) you are promised that if you do good you might get an official position and get a raise.

I basically see two options here:

  • Accept more responsibilities knowing you are basically doing this for no addition pay but it will help you to gain experience
  • Deny the offer. You are already doing hard work. That's why they chose to give you the extra responsibility.

When should I choose the first option, to accept the responsibility without additional compensation?


7 Answers 7


When should someone accept more responsibilities without more money?

Whenever you can!

If you take the responsibility, it is a chance to show you are capable of handling it. If/when there is an official opening for promotion (which I assume would come with better pay), you have immediate and relevant experience you can use to get it. Having a leadership role on your resume looks good. And it gives you the chance to learn some new team management skills.

Refusing to take the role on, especially when it's a job that needs to be done and you are the best fit, in management's point of view, will not look good. If you refuse it, they may never ask you again and you run the risk of being viewed as someone who is "not a team-player". That could be a career-limiting decision in the future. If you refuse, you should at least try to give them a reason.

...Of course, there might be some situations where refusing is a better idea.

Maybe they've already pushed extra responsibilities on to you several times and you are overloaded to the point of being unproductive or near the point of burning out. In that case you might want to phrase a refusal as "we need to hire more people since the workload is no longer maintainable and I'm burning out".

Maybe you don't feel you are a good fit for the role and you feel that by taking on the extra responsibility, it will somehow make things worse. If you truly believe that, then let management know when you refuse.

  • 1
    +1 stepping up when you can is the best way to get yourself in a good position for career advancement. Oct 12, 2012 at 18:43
  • I would say from experience that in the majority (85% plus) of cases its a very bad idea to do this - marks you as a push over
    – Neuro
    Oct 12, 2012 at 19:56
  • 1
    @Neuro: Hmmm I guess my experiences have been different. Oct 12, 2012 at 20:04

If this is the beginning of your career, then Yes you should!

When it comes to IT your experience counts most (as opposed to other fields, like Law where the school you graduated or your GPA migh bear a heavy influence on your job prospects 10 or 20 years down the road). In fact, some people accept jobs with lower pay specifically to gain some experience that will make them more marketable down the road. This is being given to you for free.

The Upsides:

  • Next time you are applying for a job, you will show a progression within a company. "I worked for 1 year as a dev, and I was so awesome they made me a lead". This is a Good Thing, it makes someone want to hire you or pay you more money even if they know little else about you.
  • In case you do want to work as a lead you can. A bunch of more senior jobs open up for you.
  • You will gain a perspective of software development that you do not have now. Even if you chose not to do this job later on, you will be a better professional.
  • Finally, maybe your manager is right and they will eventually start paying you more money.

For all those upsides, what is the downside? Not coding as much? Being a lead is a sort of sweet spot. If you ever become a manager, you won't get to code at all, but here you have both the ability to influence business decisions as well as technical decisions. Go for it!


The way I look at it is this: You're not actually going to be doing more work (or if you are then you should reject it). You're changing your priorities. You're spending a portion of your time doing a new job and any remainder continuing your old role.

Arguably, as you are less experienced in your new role, you are actually worth less to the business than you were, at least at first. That they're continuing to pay you the same rate for it is a good thing. You're essentially being paid for on-the-job training.

However, once you gain experience in a more managerial role, if you turn out to be quite good at it then you have to be assertive. Promises don't always come through unless you take the issue in hand yourself. If they're not willing to pay you at the rate that you would then be valued at elsewhere, then take those skills they've given you and leave. Quick.

  • If he just walked in off the street the risk to the company is more agruable, but they made this offer for a reason, they don't want to keep the current manager away from more important duties to the company nor do they want to hire another full-time person.
    – user8365
    Oct 12, 2012 at 14:20
  • 1
    @JeffO: Hmm, I didn't mean to imply a risk to the company. Just a lower immediate value than a trained manager. The company clearly expects that they will benefit from that long-term.
    – pdr
    Oct 12, 2012 at 14:45

Make sure you're not being setup for failure. If you think you have a solid team and things will get better by not having to deal with the current manager, take the opportunity. Don't forget, you could lose your current job if they want to replace you with an experienced team leader.

Be prepared to do some negotiating in the near future because your company seems like it's playing games with this situation and will take advantage of you if you let them.

some possible requests:

  1. Get someone to commit the expectations to you in writing. What do you have to do to prove yourself? Do they expect you to work additional or off hours?
  2. Ask for a fixed date of evaluation. The timeframe should give you enough time to prove yourself. Beware of making it too short.
  3. Change your bonus structure. If you prove yourself, they should want to give you something in return.
  • A slightly pessimistic note, but +1 for asking for an evaluation date. You can also ask what they will consider a success in that time-frame.
    – pdr
    Oct 12, 2012 at 21:59

It depends on your current situation and what your goals are with that company. Even if you're a seasoned developer with tons of 'Lead Developer' experience, it can benefit you in different ways.

I'm New Here
Take it! They trust you enough to give you the additional responsibility. It gives you a chance to prove that you can be trusted and that you can deliver. Use this time to also build rapport with the rest of the developers, leads, and the project managers. This will help your position at that job and can give you an opening for the next promotion or raise.

I don't need the experience
But you do want self-promotion. If your current position is a regular developer, even with lead developer experience under your belt, having on a resume that you are consistently given lead developer roles give you a better chance for a higher salary at the point of entry for a new position or job, and maybe even making you a permanent lead developer.

I don't care to be a lead developer
Then do it to help the team. They've asked you to do it because they trust in your ability to perform the task. You can call it doing them a favor. You can also use this time to build rapport with other developers, leads, and project managers. This will at least increase your worth for the company, and gives you a better position to ask for a raise. If you're not looking to move up, you're looking to secure your position the best you can. Building rapport and performing solidly will ensure that if cutbacks happen, you're not the one getting laid off.


What should one do in these situations?

Assuming you want to be a lead: (some people don't. They aren't a good personality for the role, don't want to deal with politicking, just want to code, etc).

You should make it clear that you're unhappy with doing more work for similar pay. This is as simple as asking if the responsibility shift comes with increased compensation and frowning when the answer is no. And leave it at that. All you need to do is plant the seed.

Take the added responsibility and do your best.

When review time comes around, point out what a good job you've been doing and bring along salary estimates for your area for someone doing your (new) set of responsibilities. "Here's what I could be making." or "Here's what it would cost to replace me.". Hopefully it won't come to that. Hopefully your manager is good and will take care of your compensation after some trial/budgetary period without conflict.

Don't count on it though. The majority of companies will fail to do it due to any variety of reasons. HR bureaucracy might hamstring your manager. Budgetary limitations might prevent them from doing the right thing. Your company (or manager) might think that you'll never leave so are willing to risk it to save some cash. Or they might just think that you're happy with experience and not compensation.

Make it clear that compensation matters; because if they won't provide it, there are plenty of others who will.


If the new responsibilities are those of a position you would like in the future, you should accept them. You can try to get more pay immediately, but your bargaining position isn't strong, because doing it for no additional money is really to your benefit anyway.

As far as getting paid more down the road, just make sure that your new responsibilities are documented so you can prove it later. As long as that is the case, once you have some experience in the new role, then if this company doesn't pay you appropriately someone else probably will. But your company will realize this, so they may drag their feet but they will most likely raise your pay (assuming they want you to continue in your new role).