First post :)  I just wanted to say, this is a neat forum and great podcasts for people stepping into management as well as more experienced managers.

I just got my promotion to manager (yay), but when I was given the promotion letter, the raise associated it with the promotion was much less than expected.  And let me explain, this is not because I have unrealistic expectations.  I did my research beforehand and know the range that should be expected to this level.  As a reference, my promotion to my previous level (obviously lower than this one) had a higher raise.  The rule of thumb as my company is the higher the level, the higher the raise.

This was why when I was given the promotion letter, I was kind of taken off guard and could not come up with a good way to ask.  Since I am given a promotion and a raise, the last thing I want to give off is a negative vibe or this person is already creating trouble before any contributions. 

My intent is to genuinely understand the reasoning for the low raise.  Was it a result of company performance, lower budget?

My question to you guys is:


1. Should I even bring it up?

2. How should I bring it up without coming across negative or trouble maker because as stated, I genuinely want to understand why and not trying to complain

AllBusiness's picture

I'd definitely suggest that you bring it up -- and the simpler and more direct you can be, the better.  Is yor intent really to "understand the reasoning," or is it to negotitate for a bigger raise? If you would like a bigger paycheck, be clear about your intentions fromthe start. Otherwise you'll probably just end up in a muddled, dissatisfying conversation.

Start by expressing your appreciation and enthusiasm about the job itself; convey that you're really eager to dive into the new role. THEN, you might say something like "The salary is lower than I expected." Be prepared to be asked what figure you had in mind. Also be prepared to detail how/why the position merits the pay.  Also be prepared to let them go away and think about it -- you might not get an immediate answer.

Hope this helps!


williamelledgepe's picture
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Bottom Line Up Front: It is all about the data.

I was recently in the same situation - and chose to bring it up.  Having been in this situation many times before, however, I chose not to bring it up.  

The criteria I used to determine if I would bring it up are: 1) strength of the data I was using to justify my requested pay, 2) my ability to show I was already doing the job to which I was promoted, and 3) prospects for "financial corrections" at a later date.  I have received a handful of promotions in my career.  Only in the most recent example did I bring up salary within the context of a promotion. 

One reason I requested a raise with the most recent promotion was the availability of very specific salary data (not data or data from a industry organization).  The more general the data the more likely it is to be swatted away with no credibility.  The more specific the data is, the more likely it is to be accepted as an input to your request for more money.  In my case I could point specifically to new direct reports and new peers.  

Another reason I chose to bring it up in my most recent experience - I knew there would be no future opportunity for adjustment.  I work for a government agency and we don't receive raises/bonuses for performance - only for promotion - this was my only opportunity for this kind of an increase.  When I was on the private side, I would accept the promotion and responsibility and not even bother to think about a raise.  Then after several months of showing quantifiable metrics for profitability and revenue growth I was able to make a request based on performance.  I took the approach of asking for money after I had proven myself worthy.

Interestingly for me, my second criteria (ability to show I was already doing the job) is exactly inversely correlated to the times I asked for a raise with a promotion.  Rather, it was usually the reason I asked for a raise 6 months or a year or two years after I had been given the official promotion.  

One last point: All my promotions while I was on the private side were a simple converation - two sentences - We are thinking about promoting you to such and such.  Can you do that?  In that case it would be utterly stupid to even think about reward.  (Think about the Shel Silverstein poem Mark quotes about God's Wheel.)  My most recent example was the first time I had received an actual offer/promotion letter requiring a signature.  It provided a specific point in time at which the request was to be made by me - or never made again - so I took the chance - but not after many, many hours of thought and discussions with my spouse.  

Summary: It is all about the data - if you can "prove" you deserve it, then ask - but I would be very weary (VERY WEARY) asking if you are unproven and starting a new responsibility.  

I know it is not easy.  Good luck in your decision making process.  

AllBusiness's picture

I'm very curious to know if the original poster was a woman or a man. Because, research shows that women are less likely to request pay increases, and that helps explain (in part) the gender pay gap. 

In my experience, employers have been willing to have a reasonable, professional conversation about pay. Some have told me that, when hiring a new person, they *expect* that person to negotiate.  And if the person doesn't, that may be a sign that s/he isn't enough of a "go-getter" for the role.

Food for thought.  Everyone will of course decide for him/herself.  

Good luck to the original poster!