Throwaway as we use SO/SE to recruit.

I work for a digital agency where I have been employed for 3 years.

I am a senior developer with 15 years of experience in my field. I hold all major certifications and I am very recognized in our community as an authority. I also am a mod on an industry-related StackExchange sub as well as holding the #2 spot there for 2 years.

When I arrived we lost three senior developers, leaving only myself, and we lost our three largest clients. We were in dire straits. I worked through two very hard years and used my influence massively to build this company and the practice we have to what it is today.

Here are some of the things we have accomplished as a team this year, specifically due to my effort:

  • Landed our first Fortune 500 client
  • Heightened the profile of our agency with major partnerships which brought major clients to the table
  • Completed more billable work than any prior year
  • Billable work is now 2x that of salaried output, making our firm among the highest margin firms in our industry
  • We have attracted the top talent in our agency's field of expertise

Beyond that I have had a personal role in guiding the outcomes of these successes. I, as a developer, have been engaged in technical sales, recruiting, management, and advertising and marketing.

This year alone I billed an average of 58 hours per week, in the top 3 billers in our agency. This year alone I traveled out of town on business 24 times, many times canceling personal plans to accommodate. I also participated in major speaking engagements as a representative of this company, and I brought 3 clients to the table which have brought in hundreds of thousands in revenue.

I have had numerous conversations with ownership about taking a larger role and we have investigated setting up a remote office in my hometown, building the entire operation around me. I have expressed that I want ownership of something, much larger than just an employee. I want to be a partner. This is unprecedented in the history of the company but I feel it is absolutely warranted being that I have been a large agent of change and turnaround for this business.

Suffice it to say I was expecting a large raise in line with prior increases received at this firm.

In short, I received a 2% raise. This is the lowest raise I've ever received. This is during a quarter we just celebrated was the highest gross profit in the history of the company. I countered, asking for a much larger increase, and they declined. I was expecting something much, much larger.

Since these events I was offered a profit sharing program which caps out at 10% of my salary. This is not enough, in my opinion, and would only reward me in retro for efforts in 2015 to be paid out in Q1 2017.

My questions

  • I have read into the 2% figure as means of insulting me, as a means of saying "we didn't forget you" but to also take the opportunity to point out that I'm not going to move forward. Is it possible I'm taking this too personally?
  • Is this raise percentage common when you are at the top of your field? Or, is this common when you are at the top of your pay scale?
  • Is it out of line or unprecedented to ask for ownership stake in a company, even if it is a meager percentage, as a means of compensation?

I am at a loss and I have lost drive. It certainly makes me more open to considering outside opportunity, though I'd rather us find common ground to continue building what I have invested so much time and effort into these past 3 years.

  • @KentAnderson I'm happy to edit it to be a bit less open-ended. I'll take a shot. By the by, I'm typing this stream of conscious as it's hard to distill 3 years of hard work into 400 words. Apologies for arrogance. – digitalagencyoverachiever Dec 30 '15 at 3:56
  • @KentAnderson Can you read through the edits to see if they're a bit more palatable? – digitalagencyoverachiever Dec 30 '15 at 4:03
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    What would be a useful answer to you? At this stage this reads like a rant. I'm more interested in the management/ownership politics than the "I worked hard" part - what are your relationships with the owners like, since you seem to be dealing directly with them. How you asked why? Have you made you desire for equity explicit? What was their response? Are they dealing with you indirectly via email or something where you can ask directly? – Móż Dec 30 '15 at 4:12
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    Although the questions at the end are more answerable, the overall post is still highly company-specific, and still reads with a tone of "I'm perfect and they won't give me what I want." (sorry). FWIW, if you're at the top of a pay band, or are senior in terms of years of experience, raises tend to be smaller. 2% might actually be generous unless a promotion is involved. It's impossible to know whether ownership is a reasonable request as a reward without knowing more about the company. Are there other partners, like in a law firm, where folks are routinely offered partnership opportunities? – Kent A. Dec 30 '15 at 4:43
  • Do those all people know your efforts and achievements whom has decision power to decide your raise? If no then explain them face to face in polite way. – Helping Hands Dec 30 '15 at 4:49

Time to move on, you have capped out at your workplace. In the process you have made some extremely valuable contributions, and it seems moved successfully into other fields.

At this point in my career (not saying this would work for you, but it may be an option). I went self-employed because that was the only way I was going to make more money. I already had a network and was already well known in my small country. It's a decision I have never regretted, unfortunately the company who didn't think I was worth a raise, lost a lot of clients and ended up downsizing by about half within a year because they couldn't handle the work.

You may have other options, these would include looking for another placement with a better recompense in either monetary terms or other benefits.

I have found that once you get to the point where you're unsatisfied with your movement forwards and the bosses are not coming to the party. Then it's only a matter of time before your work, motivation, or your attitude suffer. It's better to start looking around earlier rather than later before you start getting sloppy. The decision to move in itself has a positive effect on your outlook.

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    On the plus side, this question contains an excellent list of bullet points that the OP can use on their resume when applying for a better job. – Carson63000 Dec 30 '15 at 6:36

I have had some colleagues , who were at the top pay scales get very minor raises 2-5 %. This is because it affects the long term expense of the company. But they did get huge bonuses those years . Did you get a huge bonus ? If yes , you are okay. If not , time to move on.

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You questions in order

Yes 2% is a strong message they don't see you taking a larger role

2% may be common at the top but it that is you lowest raise. Did you just top out this year? If you billed 58 hours a week then that is a weak raise in absence of a strong bonus. But 10% bonus is not bad.

Is it unprecedented to ask for ownership? It is not common and ownership is typically reserved for founders. Based on the nature of question I suspect you did not ask once (numerous conversations). My read is you have become a pest with some unreasonable expectations. They want you as contributor but don't see you as a partner.

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