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Negotiating increase to market-rate pay failing due to excuse after excuse...

I've been in my current position over 4.5 years now. For the first 4 years, I had very little assistance, and the job was just too big for one person. Even still, the responsibilities kept growing, until I was expected to complete the work of 2.5-3 FTE. After seeing the effects of this, when I could no longer hold things together, they finally agreed to get me a 1.0 FTE assistant. Things are so much better now that I can spread some workload to her, and the issues of falling behind have all but ceased. Unfortunately, during the time when it was just me, I was being blamed for "not doing my job", and there was a lot of pressure to let me go. I work in a school district, and I felt like this was akin to giving a sole teacher 90 students, and then blaming her when things went poorly. At any rate, I'm paid well below market value. I put together a proposal with a great amount of evidence and supporting documentation for this fact, and asked to be compensated at the average level for those in my position. The proposal was viewed, and there is agreement that I'm not being paid as I should be, but my boss keeps making excuses as to why he cannot bring up my pay. First it was that he can't justify a raise because people think I'm not capable of doing my job (which is the result of the situation explained earlier), and now he's given me the excuse that my level can't be increased until I do a similar market study on everyone else in my office. He even asked the administrative team, who are already the highest paid in our industry, and who gladly accepted unbudgeted and unearned funds, what they thought, and their answer was that I should not be asking for unbudgeted money. :-/ I'm frustrated, and ready to leave. I feel these excuses are invalid, flimsy, and corrupt my relationship with my boss. I'm not sure there is anything else I can do, but wanted to see if you had some suggestions on how to deal with the situation.


Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I would visualize the history of your duties/responsibilities vis a vis the pay. Make it clear that the work you are doing is the work of 3 FTEs. Correlate those with the resources and the volume of work you have to deal with now. Correlate those also with the market rate.

I get the school district budget restrictions (but then again, I also know that School District Superintendents have a higher pay).

In the end, it is your sanity, quality of life and self worth that matters. If you present what you have now and they still can't get it, then you have to decide what is best for you.

(Director, Budget and Finance) |

Thank you for your response. I have appreciated your thoughtfulness in other posts as well. I don't think they're going to get it, and to be honest I have stopped bringing it up because I don't feel like I should have to fight so hard for what is fair. I will think on this a bit more.

David Smith
Title: Manager
Company: Private
(Manager, Private) |

Your reasons for better compensation may make all the sense in the world to you, and/or an objective person and/or your boss. However, if after going over it and over it and nothing changes, you have to accept that fact and either look for a new job or not.

I would suggest putting one or two hours per week of your own time into looking and freshening up your linkedin profile and resume. You may find that the job you have is actually worth it or you may find that the grass is greener elsewhere.

In any case, you will be taking some action which you can feel better about and wiser for what you learn. Good luck!

(Legal Assistant) |

Sad to say that if it comes to excuse after excuse, you will be better off looking elsewhere for a better opportunity where your hard work is rewarded and your worth known.

(SVP) |

If they don't recognize the value of an employee's contribution, then there is a cultural issue. Time to start searching for a better position.

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

I recommend looking for a new job at this point. But don't fret the workload. Just focus on doing your job, doing it well, and doing what you can to get recognition.

(Owner) |

I agree with previous posters that it's probably time to look for a new gig, but I think my tactics would be slightly different. I was in a similar situation years ago, except that the view wasn't that I wasn't getting my job done, it was one where I'd become the "go-to" for everything - "oh give that to her, she's dependable to get it done." And I wasn't offered help - I was still working insane hours. After having tried gentler tactics for either procuring help or monetary recognition for what I was doing (not unlike what you're doing now), I finally just updated my resume (this was pre-LinkedIn), called a recruiter I trusted and, upon confirming there was ample opportunity in the market for my skillset, I gave him my resume and told him to keep an eye out for what I was looking for. But I asked that he not submit me for any jobs until I'd had one last conversation with my employer. I then went to my boss and leveled with her, making my case yet again for why I deserved the raise (and/or the help), let her know that I'd heard what she had to say and understood her stance (which came down to budget and red tape), then I quantified for her how much it was going to cost to replace me and noted to her that if budget and red tape (paperwork) was what she was worried about, then giving me what I was asking for was the clear better alternative - and it helped both of us get what we ultimately wanted. I didn't threaten to leave (though the message was clearly sent that I was ready to leave if I didn't get what I wanted), but I made clear to her that although I wanted to stay with the company, the current situation was unsustainable for me both personally and professionally. I will say that while I didn't get what I was asking for, by putting myself in her shoes and taking the tactic of "here's the situation we're in, how can we get to a resolution" rather than "here's what I want, what can you do for me", I do feel she was more willing to listen. And when she still wasn't willing to respond (word has it she told people she was "calling my bluff" - a tactic that landed her with a PIP and management training upon my departure), it gave me that much more confidence in my decision when I departed the company 4 weeks later. Best wishes to you, and may you find greener pastures either at your current company or at one that values you more elsewhere.

Steve Banks
Title: Director of Operations
Company: O'More College of Design
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Operations, O'More College of Design) |

Being in government entity you should be able to find out the budgeted range for your position. Are you at the top of the range already? If not that reasoning of unbudgeted monies should be easy to overcome. Ask for a position review and upgrade through your HR department. Another strategy could be to go on an hourly rate, at least then you are paid time and a half for your overtime (even if you are on a salary you can be compensated for overtime).

(Director, Budget and Finance) |

Yes, the data is easily available and was the bulk of my proposal. I used an official survey from one of our oversight organizations, as well as simply called other districts of like-size to gather information. It's a rock-solid proposal. I'm the lowest paid for my position among them.

Unfortunately, we are so small, and the decision is at the sole discretion of our superintendent (my supervisor).

I appreciate the thoughts! Great ideas!

David Rau
Title: CFO
Company: Cornerstoner Building Alliance Lumber SW
(CFO, Cornerstoner Building Alliance Lumber SW) |

The best way to test what your true market value is is to go to the market and find out. Easier said than done though. Good luck

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

If you are planning to try to stay, which is the first decision point, the perception of performance needs to be addressed. You are going to keep getting that thrown up as a roadblock. You need to establish clear and measurable milestones to overcome those issues with you superior and act on them.

(Director, Budget and Finance) |

I really like this idea, and we have tossed around what those milestones might be, but haven't come up with anything we can really measure. This job is just so big!

In April, of this year, they finally hired me an assistant, and even having that one more full-time person has made drastic, noticeable differences in what we can accomplish. In less than 5 months, things have completely turned around, and there are no longer any complaints. I think this speaks volumes to the fact that there was just too much work for one person, and that it had nothing to do with my ability or knowledge. I'm now running an incredibly efficient, timely, and customer-focused operation.

I guess I had hoped that seeing this would have been the most important outcome.

Niru Irukulla
Title: Sr. Financial Analyst
Company: Guidewire
(Sr. Financial Analyst, Guidewire) |

Sounds like you really need to think about whether you want to stay or leave. If you want to stay perhaps sitting down with your manager and defining your role would be helpful. Set some realistic goals that are mutually agreed upon.

Nothing wrong with looking for a job either. Some change may do you good.

(Financial Analyst) |

My suggestion would be to look for a job and give them a hint of it. They know that u work more than 2 ftes and they also know that they won't be able to find someone in near future to work like u. They may reconsider and may increase ur salary to make u stay. I may be wrong.!!!

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