I started at this small software company (approx 100 people) about 2 years ago. I'm pretty early on into my career and I started as a base software engineer.

About 6 months ago, my manager left the company. I was given more responsibility and called a "tech lead." I basically ran the schedules and lead the work but didn't get a raise or official title change. I absorbed a big chunk of the responsibility of my manager who left. I was managed by someone else who took over the team.

Then, 1.5 months ago, I was promoted one level up to a senior engineer, after the review cycle concluded. I received a raise of 7.5%. I was told this was a result of my good work leading the small team in development.

Now, 1.5 months later, a manager position opened up (there was some reorganization and someone left) and my boss' boss wants to know if I want to take it. He says my title will change to "software development manager" but otherwise nothing else will change at this time. I'll have 7 people reporting to me. He says the position is on the same level as the one I just received 1.5 months ago and that this is a lateral move to a parallel management track. The emphasis was on what a great opportunity this is for me and how much confidence the company has in me.

I do want this, I've honestly felt like I've taken naturally to leading a team and I can't wait for it to be more officially recognized and to have direct reports. However, it feels like I should get another raise or some title that isn't at the "same level" as senior engineer, which is what I just received. My boss' boss who is offering this says that it's normal for this to be a lateral move and not a seniority or pay jump at this time. In addition, I feel awkward asking for more since I just received a raise and a title bump.

Is this normal? Should I be negotiating this further? He said that if I want I can turn it down and they'll hire someone from outside to do the job, but I only have one day to decide. I just feel like it's not fair to get more respnosibility without more pay, but the timing is awkward right after the previous raise. I'm also afraid they could take it away and just hire someone else. Should I ask for more?


Is this normal?

Yes. Companies will routinely try to take advantage of their employees.

Should I be negotiating this further?

Maybe. A 7.5% bump is pretty significant for most places. If you're already fairly compensated, then negotiating further would not be wise.

Also, depending on the company, a manager role might not be more responsibility. It will be different responsibility (doing managey things rather than coding things), but the same level of effort and risk involved. It's perhaps uncommon, but possible.

One big thing to remember is that moving to a managerial position is pretty much impossible when changing jobs without experience. The only way to make that transition is via internal promotion - and you're being offered that opportunity. If you want your career to go that route, then the experience is going to be worth more than a few grand you might get by negotiating.

  • Thanks, that seems reasonable. It feels like based on your analysis I should not ask for more at this time. I think I'm compensated close to fairly, if only slightly on the lower end. It seems like you're saying that this experience is going to be worth it and I shouldn't take the risk of pushing for another raise at this time. – softwareguy64 Jul 19 '16 at 19:38
  • @softwareguy64 - if that's where you want to go, and if you're not going to be overly burdened by the slight so much that it impacts your ability to do the job, yes. – Telastyn Jul 19 '16 at 20:00
  • @softwareguy64 - yes, your compensation is on the lower end, but you only have 6 months of experience in this role. I would consider my options at the end of the 1 year mark in that position. Also consider that no other company is going to give you a management role with only 2 - 3 years of overall work experience. Stick with these people until you have at least a couple of years of management experience under your belt. Also realize that focusing so much on management means that you will fall behind on development and may not be as attractive an employee as a lead tech in the future. – AndreiROM Jul 19 '16 at 22:30
  • That is true I can see why just accepting the experience opportunity is enough for now. I am very worried about falling behind on development but I think my compromise is that if I feel that happening I can get out of the role after a year or so. I was promised that is possible in the future if I want to move back to being an individual contributor. – softwareguy64 Jul 19 '16 at 22:43

The idea that there are two tracks - one more technical and one more managerial - isn't that uncommon.

Depending on how deep your organization is will determine where exactly you fall. At one company, the job positions were very shallow - you were an engineer, a senior engineer, or a manager (and there was 1 software manager, although the organizational structure could scale in different ways to support multiple managers if the team grew). Another company was very deep - you had associate engineers, engineers, senior engineers, staff engineers, and engineering managers. In a shallow organization, I can see the engineering manager being not much higher than a senior engineer, if higher at all. In a deep organization, engineering managers tend to come after senior engineer at the lowest, if not a staff or principal engineer.

The workload also managers. In one organization, an engineering manager simply manages engineers. They are too busy with doing management tasks - hiring, one-on-ones, coaching, training, recruiting, budgeting, etc - to do technical work. In another organization, an engineering management is responsible for the management work, but still has the time and capability to do software development.

I think you need to consider all of the factors here:

  • How does your current compensation (not just salary, but look at your company's benefits, too) stack up against other people in similar companies in similar backgrounds?
  • Will you be doing the type of work that you want to do, or at least think that you want to do? If you find out that you don't like the position, what options would exist for you to move back to a more technical position?
  • How does this position help your career? If you work a couple of years with "engineering manager" in your title, it will help you get a similar position on another company. Being an "engineering manager" for a short period of time and stepping back to a non-engineering role is also possible. Being an "engineering manager" for a long period of time and then trying to step back into a non-engineering role may be more difficult.
  • Thanks this helps a lot. I think we are certainly a "shallow organization" as you describe it. So, then maybe it makes sense that an engineering manager isn't much higher than a senior engineer or not at all. That's what they are telling me. I think I will still have some time and capability to do software development, though not a whole lot. – softwareguy64 Jul 19 '16 at 19:39

But you got a decent raise based on performance.

Trust you will get another decent raise based on performance.

It is common not to give you the salary of the position until you prove you can perform the position. Now if you have been doing it a year and they don't pay you that is a problem.

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