Title promotion without a raise
I receive 2 questions on a fairly regular basis, so I thought I would take the hint and try to answer them over the next couple of weeks. After the question “HR people are hypocrites, how do you live with yourself?” The two questions I receive fairly regularly are:
“I applied for a job, HR called me, I called them back and now, nothing, crickets. What gives?”
“I just got a title promotion but no raise. How can they do this to me?”
In regards to the first question, I usually point readers to this post and remind them to chill.
If you are interested in hearing about how to approach your manager about a raise stick around. If you want to comment on HRNasty being a dumbass, get in line and I may not respond in a timely manner because the line is going around the block.
Here is a typical question:
“I have been on the job about 6 months now and it has transformed from an “X” position to an “X + 5” or “2X” position. Management acknowledges the position shift with a title promotion but I haven’t received an increase in salary. Since the responsibilities have changed significantly and the title has changed I feel like I should probably firmly request a market level review of the position. My question is, “Do I do it now or do I wait until closer to my one-year anniversary? I pulled some data from Salary.com and I am definitely underpaid.”
Thanks for writing and trusting me enough to ask your question. Believe it or not, this is a pretty common theme and you are not alone. There are usually one of two things going on:
A: This is a lateral move and no raise is warranted. I have seen employees moved laterally throughout larger organizations but this is usually the case where the employee is just getting passed around and probably isn’t going to be receiving a raise. I compare this situation to the student in high school who doesn’t know how to read but keeps getting moved to the next grade because no teacher wants to deal with the student for a second year. Larger companies don’t want to get into a litigious situation so instead of letting the problem employee go, they just shuffle the employee through the org with a placate mentality. The employee gets a new opportunity to succeed”, but the new position isn’t any more challenging than the prior, hence the same salary.
B: Your situation sounds different. You were successful at the prior job so you got MORE responsibility, which is you providing MORE value and MORE title. So WhereTF is the “MO Money”?
FWIW, I actually operate with this same mentality. I am not asking “WhereTF is the money”. As long as the market for the skill set is not super competitive, I am a fan of promoting someone to a larger opportunity and not granting a raise on day one. I make an effort to explain WHY we are holding off on the raise. I don’t know if this is the strategy of the company you work for, but if the below is the strategy, the HR department and your manager are assuming you understand the reasoning and we know what happens when you ASS U ME.
We were promoted to the new position because we did well in the last position. We were given a title promotion and new business cards. Remember, the prior position was junior to the new position. We started out in the junior position unsure and we mastered it over time. We didn’t hit home runs on day one. As we became bigger, better, stronger, and faster with the position, we became more valuable to the company. I would hope that somewhere along the line, you did receive an increase in salary.
My personal theory is that we should prove ourselves successful IN THE LARGER ROLE before we ask for more money. Once we prove ourselves, we show that we ARE BEING successful vs. “going to be successful”. It is much easier to justify a raise when you are successful in the larger role. On day one in the new position, we haven’t done anything to justify the additional salary. Up until this point, we have only proved that we are worth a shot in the new role. We proved that the odds of our success are good and it is worth it to give us a shot. We have yet to prove success in the new position. Over the next 3-4 months, I am confident you will show progress, you will show that you can be successful, and your work ethic and your results can justify the increase. On day one, not so much.
I think that this is one angle that a lot of employees miss. As employees, we are providing a service to the customer and the customer is the company we work for. The customer is paying our salary. We should be proving our value before invoicing. Too many employees treat their manager and their company as if the employer is providing a service and we, as employees are the customer. We are not the customer, we are trying to provide value.
There are a couple of reasons why I like to wait a few 3-4 months before giving the raise.
Believe or not, I don’t want to shortchange you in your raise. Generally speaking, most companies give raises once-a-year. We may give you a 10% raise at your promotion, but if 3 months later we find out you have discovered your true calling and are rocking the new gig, you may deserve a larger raise. With the once-a-year raise mentality in mind, it is an act of Divine Intervention for an employee to receive the second raise, so guess who is waiting for their one-year anniversary and feeling slighted for 9 lonnngggg dog months. When employees feel underpaid, a couple of things typically happen:
- Loss of interest in the role. An uninterested employee is a non-productive employee.
- When (some) employees feel they are underpaid by 15%, they only give 85% effort.
- One of the top reasons for employee theft is they feel underpaid and justify the lift and pinch as a way of making up the lost salary.
If you hire someone to paint your house or mow your lawn and you don’t feel like they are doing an adequate job for what you are paying, what do you do? You fire them. If the company gives you a raise and you do not perform well right out of the gate, the customer feels like they are getting cheated. You may come around and do better after a few months on the job, but those are some VERY long months for the manager that gave you the promotion. When you are paying a higher premium for a service, it is human nature to expect more for your buck. Managers are no different. If your manager pays more, they don’t want to get less.
If you have a track record of being promoted within the same company and doing well at each position, then a raise on day one can be justified. But if this is your first promotion with the same company, I would play it conservatively and prove yourself over the next 3 months.
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.