A department consists of the 10 team members, split in half and managed by two supervisors and one department manager. Employee A and B are in the same department managed by different supervisors.

During performance review, employee A is told by the department manager that due to their hire date, they're ineligible for raise or promotion despite their above-average review. In other words, they've joined the company too recently and it's just company policy.

However, the company openly publishes promotions monthly as a way to congratulate employees. Employee B was hired a month later than employee A (and is new to the company), but received a promotion despite the stated company policy.

So in this case do you bring up the paradox to your supervisor, the department manager? Is it even worth bringing up, or take it as it is and try not to fret?

Obviously, cases like this leaves a bad taste and the manager probably did not expect to be outed in the company circular. I also understand that there are exceptions to anything and every individual is it's own case. Thanks for your responses.

  • Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:51
  • 6
    @gnat This question has nothing to do with pay.
    – CKM
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:53
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    Arbitrary limits often have arbitrary boundaries (eg per department or area) and arbitrary exceptions (when manglement feels they need to reward an exceptional employee). Getting annoyed isn't helpful. Ask what it will take, from you or in the business or both, for you to get a promotion.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:59
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    I had a manager once that was very honest and straightforward and didn't play politics. So when he was told that the max for raises was x%, the max we got was x%. Other managers were told the same thing, but asked for more anyway. And got more. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 16:47

2 Answers 2


Sounds like politics.

It could be that one manager hasn't secured a sufficient budget for his team to promote you, while the other did. It could also be that the one manager is buddy-buddy with his employee and went to bat for him to get him that promotion, and that yours isn't willing to expend the political capital necessary to do so on your behalf.

Or, maybe that person has some other skill, or ability which justifies them getting that promotion, and you do not (this might be a purely subjective assessment, and have nothing to do with your actual performance).

In other words there are a million reasons why that one person may have been promoted. Going to your manager and pointing out the "discrepancy" is not likely to help you because you have no idea why that person is a "special case".

Instead, you should ask your manager to tell you exactly what it will take for you to get your promotion. A bigger commitment, better performance in categories X/Y/Z, or simply more seniority.

Keep in mind that when it comes to promotions it's often the person who is perceived to be more involved with the company who gets it, not the person who is more knowledgeable and valuable to the team.


Every company can override its own policy unless it's in a contract (at least in the US).

Most of us have personally seen companies with a "policy" of promoting from within completely ignore that and hire someone less qualified because of a variety reasons, sometimes including nepotism.

I've seen waiting periods on health insurance eligibility waived because the executive being hired made it a condition. Same with other benefits such as full vesting in pension plans.

What we have learned

The takeaway from this is you've now learned how the company operates. They're apparently big on proclamations and platitudes but when it comes time to apply them, they are "flexible" on their integrity. You can use this information to make more informed decisions about your future in the company to decide whether you can accept how they are or move on.

The Real Lesson

Companies usually can and will do what they want. Unless there's some sort of discrimination (or you're a protected class like disabled) then what you do is weigh your future.

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