I am writing to you for advice. The best way to explain is bullet points - sor here goes

- I have been with the same company for 5+ years
- The company that I work for is huge (revenue $80+ Billion)
- I have always given the highest rating (top 5%) every year
- I am relatively senior within the organisation.
- The company publishes pay ranges (Low $, Mid $ and Top $)
- The aim of the company is to get employees/managers to Mid $ point.
- I have been promoted several times
- Promotions doesn't equal pay rise - instead you get onto new pay scale/range and thus in the next round of pay increase, you can expect are more significant one.
- Annual Pay increases are in Feb.

Current Situation:
- I was promoted in January
- I am currently $20k below the [u]Low $[/u] of my pay range
- This year my pay increase was 1.5%
- Due to changing roles my compensation 07-08 was 6% lower than 06-07 [this is due to change from Delivery to Management role - where delivery you were paid for 'Stand-by hours'.

Overall I love my job and it is a great for growth and future career. The issue is that I have extremely under paid - justification - (a) Looking on the job market, I can double my salary (b) my compensation is significantly below the published range by the company.

I have spoken to my manager about this, and this is not purely an issue with me - this issue is present across the company. Which is true, as when I used to be a people manager - most of my team was well below the Mid $ point.

I therefore seek your advice on how to proceed. The options that I have thought about are:

A) Leave the company - join another company
B) Escalate this issue
C) Stay quiet

My gut feeling is to escalate it. I do not think (C) is an option, as I have a family to support and due to my wife no longer working - I am feeling the financial pressure.

If I do escalate it, I will do it in writing - but I seek your advice on what the tone of the email should be. (1) Friendly - hey, we have an issue here (2) Inform them about the financial pressures due to growth in family and wife no longer working and therefore compensation is now a focus when previously it wasn't (3) Inform them that I have another job offer (which I do)

Anyway... I would welcome any feedback on the above. Apologies for the rambling email, but dashing between meetings.


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

So what did your manager say when you spoke with him/her? I'd take my cue from that.

gusmac's picture

good point and I forgot to outline my discussion with my manager.

In short he said
- It does not reflect my performance
- Lots of people are in the same position.
- His hands are tied and he cannot offer any more.
- I got the max pay rise in the team

I then floated the idea of escalating this and using an email as the vehicle for escalation. His feedback was:

- It is important to voice opinion
- Don't expect any change due to the escalation (he wanted to be clear that he managed my expectations)

So... any views on what you would recommend as my next steps here.

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

I know there's more to life than the $ you make each paycheck, but I know you have to feed your family too. When I worked in corporate America, ten years ago or so, you had to company swap to advance your career. For example:

Work at company A for $Z.
Take a job at company B for $Z x 1.5
Go back to company A for $Z x 2

For some reason you were just more valuable if you were less loyal. I'm sure there are reasons why this is so, but that was my experience a while ago. I don't know if it's still true.

Whether that's true or not, here is my interpretations of your situation:
1. You need to make more money.
2. Your boss says you ain't gittin' no mo' money.

If the summary is accurate, what choice do you have? It sounds like time to get your resume out there. (Get the MT interview series if you don't have it already.)

gusmac's picture

Thanks for the advice, I think you are a right.

At the end of the day there is much more to life than purely compensation, however I my attention is drawn to this due to family situation.

It is a real shame that I progressing my career in a job that I love is proofing difficult. I am currently working on a great aquisition and I think I will see this deal to its conclusion before making a move. In the mean time, I will escalate the issue using an email as the vehicle with a view & hope that something may be done.

Thanks for your advice. If anyone else has any other comments or pointers please feel free to share!

lazerus's picture

I have been in this position a couple of times. Both times, I was prepared to leave. (These were much smaller companies, though, and so probably not subject to the same restrictions as yours.) The first time, I went over my bosses head, with his permission, and got a 40% raise. The second time, I was denied, and left the company for about twice my salary. Both times I was underpaid relative to my peers and the market, and used that as evidence.

pmoriarty's picture
Training Badge

I would not inform them that I have another job offer unless I was truly prepared to leave. It sounds too much like, "Give me a raise, or else!"

ramiska's picture

[quote]If I do escalate it, I will do it in writing - but I seek your advice on what the tone of the email should be. [/quote]

Email may not be your best route to take. Face-to-face with the boss is usually more effective.

stehow's picture

Take some time to decide if the experience you are gaining in your new role will be better for you in the medium-long term. You may decide to stay with the role and then move on with more under your belt. See if you can get additional training or benefits that are not direct salary?



eagerApprentice's picture

I know a lot of people have given their opinion so far, mine is that if C is not an option, then the quality of your job and the enjoyment you are getting from it are officially less important than getting enough $ to support your family.

Therefore, doing B can't hurt, and doing A is probable, best prepare. :wink:

gusmac's picture

Thanks for all the valuable advice. Very much appreciated.

One thing that I forgot to provide is a link to a previous post regarding compensation. Here it is below - it is good background to the discussion.

A while ago, I escalated the issue regarding my compensation to my boss. It was a clear escalation and unfortunately nothing has come of it. I have discussed it with my manager, but no serious/concrete outcomes.

There are instances within my company of counter offers and it is generally viewed that is the only way to get increases. That said, I believe that you are 100% correct and that I have to be 100% sure on the offer prior to discussing it with my manager.

It is a real shame, as I am so happy with all other aspects for my current employment, just not the compensation.

Please continue to share your comments on this as I appreciate your views. Especially if you have any specific advice based on the questions that I outlined above.

US41's picture


Do not accept a counter-offer. I once read in an article that statistics show that people who accept counter-offers are overwhelmingly fired or quit within six months anyway. My experience matches up with this. We managers rarely forgive you for holding us over a barrel. As Morgan Freeman said in Deep Impact, "It might seem that we have each other over the same barrel, Ms Lerner, but it just seems that way."

It may seem that threatening to leave will assert your expertise power and get you a leg up on your boss, but it just seems that way. As soon as you accept the counter offer, he's going to go find your replacement, secretly train them, and you're going to be walked out by security carrying a box.

When you accepted the job at the pay you are getting, you essentially agreed with them that the pay was fair for the work provided. Finding out later that you are worth more in the marketplace than they were paying you doesn't really entitle you to an increase in pay.

So many people seem to think it does and go to their boss and say, "Hey, wait a minute! I just found out that other people in this company are making double what I make!"

Yep, that's right. Too bad. Strong negotiators with better intel get paid better. No matter how much you are making, someone else in your company is probably getting paid double for the same work.

If you don't like it, leave. If you won't leave, then stop talking about it and find acceptance. All other options put you on the road to involuntary separation.

gusmac's picture

Firstly though - my posting today was made in the incorrect message. I posted an message last night regarding counter offers here is the link.

US41 - thanks for your response and taking the time to answer my post. I would like to take the opportunity to followup on some points that you raised.

"When you accepted the job at the pay you are getting, you essentially agreed with them that the pay was fair for the work provided. Finding out later that you are worth more in the marketplace than they were paying you doesn't really entitle you to an increase in pay. "

This is not 100% true. When I "accepted" was some 6 years ago since then the job has changed. When I joined the company I was in a junior position/role. This is not the case today. The company itself states that someone at my level pays between X and Y, but I am being paid at X - 10.

philwhineray's picture

If you know the value at which you would be content (and this could be higher or lower than the fairly arbitrary numbers published) and can get it no other way than by putting a metaphorical gun to someone's head, it's time to leave.

Trying for a counter offer can't win:

- You don't get one: arguably the better result but if you're expecting one and have brought in an offer you don't really want you're in trouble. If you really wanted that other job, you'd be better taking it anyway; they're offering what you want without having to hold a gun to their head.

- You accept a counter offer: the statistics are against you per US41's post, and even if you're not actively ousted there will be preparations put in place for when you do this next. Which most likely you will, because chances are your pay will fall behind again for the same unexplained reasons it has done now and "it worked last time".

You need to make the tough decision now: either you can live with your situation unchanged, or you need to find a new job and be happy somewhere else.

If you defer the choice until you have a great offer and a plausible counter-offer, you will be under serious stress. The reasons will become blurred and you will risk getting confused and making the wrong decision: what if it's a really great new job but the counter-offer is much bigger than you expected but you have only the length of your meeting with your current boss to decide but there's more holiday with the new job but it means relocating. You get the idea.

Good luck with your choices: be strong now and it will pay dividends later.

turlings's picture

In generally when you are unhappy with your situation at the company you are working for, I would say you have four options.

1. Change the company
2. Come over it
3. Leave
4. Keep nagging the rest of your live

The last isn't realy an option in my opinion. When I read your post the second will be hard for you. The first I wouldn't recommend in most cases, you can make good money when you have the ability to change companies.... But in your case: at least try it! So try something else when you aren't succesful with your manager, at least when you are willing to leave when nothing changes. So when the result is zero, leave. And I agree. Don't escalate by mail, Talk to people face tot face. When you are realy that good and that underpaid: companies are willing to make exceptions on their policies (although they wont tell that in public). And please do it in a pleasant but honest manner. In my career I was never willing to give grumbling, nagging directs a raise, they are not my favorits. But when you explain the company that you love to work for them but that you are not honest to yourself and your family when the situation is not changing and you stay, it might work. If it doesn't work go for option 2 then 3. Never go for option 4...


US41's picture

[quote="gusmac"]"When you accepted the job at the pay you are getting, you essentially agreed with them that the pay was fair for the work provided. Finding out later that you are worth more in the marketplace than they were paying you doesn't really entitle you to an increase in pay. "

This is not 100% true. When I "accepted" was some 6 years ago since then the job has changed. When I joined the company I was in a junior position/role. This is not the case today. The company itself states that someone at my level pays between X and Y, but I am being paid at X - 10.[/quote]

I know of many people in your position. You can fire up a presentation and make an ask for a raise by giving a semi-annual report of your accomplishments to date and your typical activities. At the end of it, ask for a raise. Say this, "I'm hoping that after this presentation, you will agree that I have developed and have performed above expectations for someone in the role I started in. I'm hoping you will take a look at your budget and see that there is some extra funding in there to give me a moderate increase."

I received a promotion after I went to my boss one afternoon with such a presentation. At the end of it, I said something like, "I could really use a little extra in my paycheck to take back to the family to help me convince them I am doing the right thing investing so much time and energy here. Do you think there is any extra cash in that budget of yours for me to get a raise?" I was smiling when I said it.

My boss said, "Absolutely." 60 days later, I had a new title, 4 more reports (always more responsibility follows), and a modest but imo very generous increase.

However, note that I was also asked to do more.

If this strategy works, you will still be X-10. They will up your responsibilities another notch to justify the increase, more than likely.

Just keep in mind that you can ask, they can say no, and then you are left with love it or leave it. All other options lead to the emergency exit door being hustled out by a security guard while carrying a cardboard box.

Having your job morph over time does not entitle you to an increase in pay. Being paid lower than the recommended pay for your pay grade also does not entitle you to an increase in pay.

In short, nothing entitles you to an increase in pay. Your company can offer to pay you whatever they want, and you can either find happy acceptance of that fact or leave on good terms.

If I were your boss, I would bump you up at annual review time ONLY if you outperformed others significantly. If you were a mediocre performer as far as my group went, I'd probably leave you where you were for the most part. Maybe the low pay would drive you off, and I could replace you with someone I personally picked out who grumbled less and did more! Meanwhile, you're a bargain! Why would I change that?

Keep in mind that my funding for giving out raises at the end of the year is constrained by the company, and exceptions result in my standing in an executive's office justifying my decisions, explaining myself, presenting your performance measurements as superior, and not only that... I have to steal your raise from the wallet of my top gun.

I need powerful motivation to do that.

cwatine's picture
Training Badge

Great story US41. I think you adapted your presentation to your boss style.

Yesterday, I gave a big raise to one of our assistants.

She had been claiming for it in different manners since Jan, saying that :
- she was working a lot (okay, but the results ?)
- she was working more than the others (okay but the results ?)
- she was given more responsibilities (...)
- she could go elsewhere (don't play this game with me please)

Each of those arguments did not hit the right trigger on me. Before I came to see her in her location, I called her and asked her to prepare a presentation about what result she had got and what was her plan until the end of the year.

She got a pay raise and she now has the opportunity to get a big bonus at the end of the year.

I am sure she will get it.