The team got some monetary award for a project we worked on. The boss has been throwing comments in private conversations about how he is disappointed with the amount of the award. He claims he had recommended more.

I cannot help but think that the boss is setting the stage for appraisal time. Keeps on reminding that last year it was this much. Blames higher management for not recognizing the hard work.

I am unsure about - If he's sincere about what he is saying. Feel he is setting low expectations. Last year as well it was the same story - blame the higher management for "no budget" at appraisal time.

How do I even get my point (that I deserve it as I worked hard to deliver projects on time which included working late and on weekends) across if he is going to stonewall it with "the higher management blah blah" each time? It is so frustrating to listen to it every single year. I feel like asking him "give me an year when budget will not be a constraint cause at the moment it looks like a mirage" but I guess it will be rude.

P.S - Unfortunately for me, switching the employer is not an option.

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    Almost all monetary decisions are made at a higher level than a first line manager, so he is not stonewalling, he is preparing you for the fact that higher management is not likely to meet your expectations. – HLGEM Jan 19 '17 at 18:13
  • @JoeStrazzere Edited. Made it more elaborate. – R11G Jan 19 '17 at 19:08
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    If you can't switch employers then you are at their mercy - and they may know that. Until you are able to move on you won't get what you think you deserve. – user1220 Jan 19 '17 at 19:32
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    @user1220 If he can't switch employers he's not worth more than they're paying him. – Loren Pechtel Jan 20 '17 at 0:31
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    @LorenPechtel sounds more that he may be attached to a work visa. – user1220 Jan 20 '17 at 13:43

As HLGEM commented, this likely isn't a "front" by your manager. It's quite likely the reality that he's faced with and equally disappointed by. He is doing a couple positive things: he's setting your expectations, so you don't expect 10% and be disappointed by 3%, and he's letting you know that he recognizes, appreciates, and advocates for your (and your team's) hard work.

You may not like the reality, but I would avoid blaming the messenger. What you describe is a manager who cares, doing the best he can with a sub-optimal situation. Given that you can't look for other employment, look for the silver lining that your boss may, at least, be one of the good guys.


The manager can't give you money that they don't have. And no amount of protestation on your part that you worked extra hard is going to change the fact that they are not authorized to print money for you.

Like it or not, if you are looking for a raise, then you are going to have to find yourself a job where they actually give raises. The job you are holding is not one of those and it doesn't look like the situation will be any different next year.

Getting yourself into an adversarial relationship with your manager won't do you much good - you need them to give you a reference.


Unless you're contractually bound to stay with your current employer, your employer won't know that changing jobs is not an option for you. As long as your employer believes there's a possibility of losing you, you have a much stronger position in asking for a raise/bonus. When your manager realizes he might lose a top performer, your request for a raise will be taken much more seriously and should get escalated to the true decision makers.

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