I'm looking for help in communicating style as I am super-low D. (1-5-6-5), working for a high-I, high-D boss.

I have a good relationship with him and I think he highly values my contribution. (Or is it just his high-I trait?) He is a kind-hearted person, but very street-smart and make judgement very quickly.

I have reasons to believe that I am being paid lower than others in similar positions and responsibilities. And I would like to ask for a pay equity assessment and adjustment.

Given the economy, timing is not great.

My plan is to approach it from the angle of asking for his support in doing equity adjustment (not negotiating for a better salary necessarily). I trust him enough to feel that he will be fair.

Can I say something like this?

"something is bothering me, and I would like to ask for your help and support. I would like to ask that you (or HR?) look into the pay equity for me."

Is this the right approach? I would value everyone's thought. And for those who are high-I, high-D -- what would be your reaction?

Thank you!

TomW's picture
Training Badge

let's start with the most important thing you need to consider any time you ask for a raise:
Why do you deserve the raise?

Ultimately, it does not matter what anyone else is making. It matters why YOU should be making more than you are now. They may have the same responsibilities, but do they get the same results?

I would almost count on the "equity" tactic blowing up in your face. What the boss is paying someone else and what the boss is paying you are often not related.

hchan's picture

Thank you for your feedback.

A bit more background. My company is generally receptive to equity adjustment. We did one round a couple of years ago before I got promoted, and my boss told me he did it for someone a few months ago (though that person's pay is less than half mine).

I planned to be prepared to talk about my contribution, and now after reading your feedback, I will make sure that I am very well prepared.

I used to be this boss's skip. But my former boss left a few months ago, and I don't think there is a plan to replace him anytime soon. Another co-worker and I are taking over most of the responsibilities - and we are doing well. My role has become a lot more visible and recognized.

If possible, I would like to address this from the pay equity standpoint first, as I do have the plan for "growth" and real "increase" a year or so down the road. I do feel that going the equity route is a possibility and will have quicker turnaround time. It will also give me rooms to grow further.

My boss is an extremely tough negotiator -- and he takes great pride in that. So I wanted to make sure that this is not being perceived as a "negotiation", rather it is my appeal for his help. I need him on my side of the table - not the opposite.

Thank you for the feedback.

RobRedmond's picture


My advice is that you abandon the whole idea of pay equity immediately and forever.

You have no entitlement to pay equity. The entire concept of pay equity is a myth. Pay is intentionally unequal. The top performers get paid the most, the lower performers the least, and everyone else gets average. Pay is also a function of your negotiating skills and the offer available during the hiring process.

Good managers reject the concept of equal pay between their reports. Raises in pay exist to reward increasing performance, productivity, and contributed value. Companies are not jobs programs. They exist to make money, and they pay people to encourage them to work. They offer increases in pay to encourage increases in work ability and results.

The course you are set on currently with this line of thinking is likely to result in negative consequences for you.

Whether you frame it as negotiation or an appeal for help - either way - you are way out of bounds going to your boss for an unjustified increase for which you have not performed yet.

I also recommend you listen to the member's only casts on DISC. You are high in S and I and low in D. You are approaching your high D boss in an S fashion. "If I frame it as support, he will see the wisdom of it." I am an extremely high D. We D's don't want to have to support you. We want you to support us. He probably views you as hired help intended to take work away from him. Anytime you bring him work to do or otherwise lean on him for support, he may view it as slacking.

You need to perform and show competitive success compared to others. You have to also show improvements over the previous year. "Help me" will probably just disgust him.

If you want to get a raise, this is how.

-Rob Redmond

bug_girl's picture

I disagree that "pay equity is a myth."

While top performers get more, so do people who actually know that you can negotiate for more pay. Unless someone teaches you how to do that, or even know that it's possible, you start off at a huge disadvantage. I am amazed at how many of my students and directs don't know that it's *allowed* to bargain, much less expected.

Then you really get hit with salary compression later on, as brand new people are hired at much more than you are making...even with more experience at the company.

HMac's picture

Many years ago, I was part of a team which analyzed all positions in one of the largest state governments in the USA for the purpose of bringing comparable worth/pay equity into the system. I mention this only because I can (!) - it's experience that's relevant here...

Whether you agree with pay equity or not, there's one principle to it's application that I'd like to tell you:

Pay equity is applied to GROUPS, not to individuals.

Pay equity is something you do to Job Titles and to Job Classes, not to employees (sorry if I sound like an HR geek...). It's when you analyze the worth of jobs against one another, and evaluate whether the pay is equitable. The classic application in the US was to look at jobs that are "traditionally female" (think nursing, for example), and see if they are paid equitably for their contribution is comparison to jobs which are "traditionally male" (think prison guards).

OK, end of lecture.


hchan, you wrote:
My company is generally receptive to equity adjustment. We did one round a couple of years ago before I got promoted, and my boss told me he did it for someone a few months ago (though that person's pay is less than half mine)

I suspect your boss actually did some kind of discretionary adjustment to that person's pay, and not a pay equity adjustment.

I think you're getting some good (if tough) advice from others on this board. I won't repeat them - I just suggest all the comments up this one are worth re-reading.



RobRedmond's picture


Why do you argue that pay equity is not a myth, and then give an example that demonstrates that pay is not going to be equal using an example that I gave in my post?

I wrote:

Pay is also a function of your negotiating skills and the offer available during the hiring process.

Which guarantees that your pay will not be equal to others.

* I have never seen two salaries for the same job that were identical
* In my company, we have "pay bands" and they can be very wide from minimum to maximum for a job title
* I have never seen anyone successfully argue "I want the same pay as others"
* I have tried in my youth to argue this same point, and the results were, shall we say, less than effective.

There is no pay equity between people doing the same job. You don't deserve the same pay as others because you are not the same as others. You don't get the same pay because others are better negotiators and others are better performers.

Where do we disagree? Are you suggesting that hchan go to his boss and ask for a pay increase based on a Marxist ideal? I don't think that will be good for his chances nor for his career.

Remember that this is not a theoretical discussion for him. He is asking what to do. Our responses are our advice to him.

My advice remains the same: Don't do it. Do not tell your boss that there is some moral need for your salary to equal the salaries of others. Show performance, document the numbers, and then go in and ask, but don't threaten to quit or beg using emotional manipulation.

One last thought: don't walk around convinced you are making less than others. You may be dead wrong about that. Others could be lying about their pay. Unless you see their tax filings and pay stubs, assume that you have no real data.


hchan's picture

I am thankful for all the advice, and would like to invite more.

Thank you for the caution not to beg using emotional manipulation. I didn't realize at first, but that was what my planned approach essentially was -- and it's shameful.

I am now re-thinking my strategy, though I am not yet altogether abandon the idea of asking for my boss's support in getting higher pay. Any other advice from the forum will be appreciated.

I am a top performer, though my current job is not exactly the same as everyone else as it was created specifically to utilize my strengths to fit organizational needs. I worked on the budget this year, so I know the salaries of everyone in my area. And I have reliable info on some of the salaries of some people outside my area that have comparable responsibilities and skills. The gap is substantial.

Due to special circumstance when I started at the company almost ten years ago, I had to accept very low salary for my skills and experiences. I had been promoted 3 times since, and got a relatively nice bump in my pay each time, but wasn't smart enough to negotiate for more at each point. (Just so excited about the new responsibilities.)

I love my current job, and don't really want to look elsewhere, and will not threaten to quit. But I am at the level that further promotion is extremely difficult and I won't be ready for a few years. I have a lot of rooms to grow within my current level, both responsibility-wise and pay-wise. But a 5% increase won't take me far enough.

Any other perspective is still welcome... and highly valued.

bug_girl's picture

Rob--I meant to say that the need to *address* pay equity is not a myth.

As usual, half of what I'm thinking doesn't make it into the post. But it seemed so clear to me when I wrote it! :p

And I totally agree with what Rob says about the best approach for a High D. While the reasons for pay inequity are very real, just saying "it isn't fair" won't cut it.

jhack's picture

Simply put your goals on the table:

"[boss], I'd like to get my salary to $xxxx. What would I need to do, by when, to make that happen? Can you work with me on this goal?"

You can't change the past. Focus on what happens from this point forward.

Your boss's response will also help guide your thinking (if, for example, he says that you can't get there in less than 4 years...)


hchan's picture

Thank you all for your feedback.

I wanted to give an update that I talked to my boss in O'3 today, and he was very supportive. But you are right that I will have to put together the list of my accomplishments, contribution, etc. But he is willing to support the efforts and guide me. We now have a plan.

What's interesting is that, during the discussion, he mentioned that I should have been able to just tell him directly that "This is bothering you, and you want to talk to me about it and have my support." This is in essence what I had initially planned. Go figure!

Lesson learned:
- His "I" must have been much higher than his "D"
- My "S" traits made me seem too evasive. Dealing with his high "I", next time I have to make a conscious effort to go right to the point. But I can ask for his help.
- I am reminded why I like working for him.

Sincere thank to all again. Interesting experience.

HMac's picture

Thanks for the update - it sounds like things went well for you. Good for you - and for really thinking through what you're trying to accomplish. Good luck!