My friend got a job promotion but they haven’t told her what the new base salary is going to be. She was hoping for at least a $5,000 raise. She knows for a fact that the budget is for double that. I told her she should have asked her manager about the raise immediately when he gave her the promotion. They already low-balled her when they originally hired her. I think she needs to suggest a $10,000 increase and see what they come back with. What should she do?
I agree with you that she made a mistake not asking about money immediately. In her hesitation, she unwittingly signaled her boss that money isn’t an issue, and perhaps that she’s not confident in her negotiating ability. The boss may have judged he can take advantage of her. Your friend needs to go knock on her boss’s door.
Is a job promotion reward enough?
Some employers play an underhanded game with salary and compensation. They believe the longer they avoid bringing up money and the longer you don’t raise the issue, the less they need to pay you. This happens with job-offer negotiations and with promotions and raises.
In the case of a promotion, by not mentioning money your employer may signal that the promotion itself is your reward, and that you should be thrilled at the news and accept with no questions asked.
The discomfort your friend felt — and the reason she didn’t ask about the new pay — stems from an insidious contrivance employers (especially HR) rely on when discussing a job: It’s not nice for job candidates to bring up money.
Should you bring up money?
Our employment system drills that cockamamie “rule” into our psyches. This ridiculous idea dominates most job-interview advice. “Don’t bring up money! They’ll think you care more about pay than about the opportunity, the job, and the company!”
And then there’s the capper: “It’s unprofessional!”
Believing this balderdash is probably why your friend is not being paid what she’s worth — and why she’s so hesitant to speak up.
Be forthright about money
Of course money is a key issue! It’s why employers discourage discussing it! Your friend should do as you suggested. Go ask her boss immediately how much the raise is. Since she seems to feel awkward, I suggest this casual yet forthright approach.
How to Say It
“Thanks for offering me this job promotion! So, what’s the money (or pay) like for this new role?”
Say it with enthusiasm and a smile. It’s direct, non-confrontational, friendly and almost innocent. Most important, it signals your clear expectation that the pay must be higher. This is actually the disarming start of a negotiation.
Turn a job promotion into a raise
Your friend should politely and respectfully make it clear the matter is not settled and she expects a negotiation before she accepts the promotion.
How to Say It
“My expectation, based on what the job requires, is that the pay is higher than that. Can we discuss it?”
If the boss asks how much your friend is talking about, she should not state a number just yet because, if the boss is not agreeable, that will likely end the conversation. The objective here is to have a dialogue.
This is where your friend must shift the boss’s expectations, take the discussion up two notches, and take control of the negotiation. Here’s what to say to turn a promotion into a raise.
How to Say It
“I don’t expect you to pay me more than I’m worth. I’d like to work up a brief business plan estimating how much added value I can bring to the job, beyond what the company expects. If I can’t convince you, then you shouldn’t pay me more. Can we meet in three days to go over it before you set a salary on the job?”
The biggest mistake people make in salary negotiations — mainly because it’s an emotional subject and they’re usually not prepared — is to blurt out a salary they believe they’re “worth.” But they fail to justify the number. They don’t make the case, except to say, “It’s what I think.” That’s not sufficient.
Make the business case
This approach should help your friend start a thoughtful conversation with her boss; a discussion, a friendly back and forth about the job, her skills, and specific ways she can bring more value to the job. Talking shop is always better than just haggling for money. It reveals true respect for the job and the employer.
To be truly effective at negotiating a promotion and a raise, your friend must be willing to make her case. This means preparing a brief business plan that justifies what she’s asking for. And, as in a job-offer negotiation, if what she really wants is truly important to her, she must be ready to walk away from the promotion if the pay isn’t to her satisfaction.
Have you ever been offered a job promotion (and more work) without an appropriate raise? How did you handle it? Did you ever decline a job promotion because it included no raise? Is such a deal ever justified?
Always say thank you for the consideration. But I’d talk first about logistics–reporting line, what the job looks like, reports, timing, and transitioning your current work so you get a fuller picture. Find out what will be expected of you, then casually bring up new title, pay, and benefits. Depending on the organization, that is often deferred to HR. Like any job offer, get anything verbal in writing.
I’ve seen in prior downturns and consolidations that the ‘promotion’ is a lateral–you move to a different job and reporting line, but everything else stays the same. Or the promotion is simply your current job plus more workload, or you’re being shuffled into a reorganized job that’s two in one. Sometimes the reporting line is a disaster and/or it’s cleanup work. You need to have that discussion right up the line to set expectations.
If title or grade doesn’t change that forces HR into a raise + benefits upgrade (e.g. grade change in larger companies), chances are you’ll get a glare when you ask the ‘what’s the pay like’ question and something about ‘business reasons’, but ‘we’ll evaluate your performance six months down the line’. You then have to see if that’s satisfactory, particularly in a situation like now, where anyone over 50 stays on the beach for a long while.
Another thing that may change with a promotion in times like these is pay stays flat or a slight bump, but vacation and things like profit sharing/bonuses are much better. HR should go over these things with you.
You then have to evaluate how the promotion affects your life in terms of workload/travel, reporting staff (which is a burden), and — importantly–if it makes you more marketable for the next job. I’ve seen it happen that the workload crushes both life and health. Or that a promotion turns into a great job elsewhere.
Refusal of a promotion (or requesting a deliberate downgrade, which I’ve seen happen due to health or as a prelude to retiring) needs to be couched carefully. I’ve heard of instances where a person is fired or told the position is being eliminated, but more often the person is left in place and goes in the next downsizing.
@Dee: I like your suggestion to start with a discussion about the “logistics” of the job. This review of job functions subtly reminds the manager of all you’ll be doing for the company, which may position you better to discuss money. Call it “priming the pump.”
You’re right that economic factors influence what they can pay you — but I think the employer nonetheless has an obligation to disclose whether there is a raise involved. If there is not, the boss needs to make that clear from the start. I’ve known too many people who’ve had to wait weeks or months to learn whether they will be paid more to handle an increased workload.
As you also point out, politely insisting on a discussion of terms (more pay, higher title, new level of authority, etc.) could result in you being fired or marked for termination. That’s why I suggest everyone needs to have an option ready to implement — another job to go to. It’s easier to abuse a worker who has nowhere else to go. Don’t be that employee. Recognize that your most potent negotiating tool is another job.
There really is a dishonest game being played. This may sound trite, but imagine eating in a restaurant. You order from the menu, having seen the prices of the items. Halfway through the meal, you ask the waiter if he’d bring fries and salad for the table. When time comes to pay the bill, you argue you don’t owe for the fries and salad because you didn’t order them off the menu and the waiter didn’t disclose whether there was a cost or how much. You assumed the waiter just agreed to give them to you. “Nobody mentioned a cost.” When push comes to shove, you offer this: “I’ll think about how good the fries and salad were, and in a month I’ll stop by to pay you accordingly.”
Does that sound goofy? It’s essentially what an employer is saying when it waits to “see how you perform” before deciding on more pay.
This Q&A reveals just one of the many bizarre economic frauds routinely perpetrated against employees. “You should be honored to do more work.” It’s just another example of the ham-handed brainwashing many employers practice.
I’m not suggesting being ham-handed in response. I’m suggesting questioning the status quo when you’re told to do more without being paid more.
Hi Nick, happy to see you agree on asking a lot of questions about the new job and the logistics. It does set the stage and makes it logical and reasonable to pop ‘what’s the pay like’? As to the fries and salad analogy, if you ask enough questions about the promotion, it gives your brain the time to process it and then ask the right questions, just like on a job interview.
Again, this person could be inexperienced or a ‘pleaser’, and they need to get hip, fast.Everyone needs to have a Plan B and C.
“Recognize that your most potent negotiating tool is another job.”
When you touch a hot pan, you say “ouch.”
And when you are offered a promotion, you say “what’s the pay?” It’s automatic. No rehearsal needed. And certainly no whop-de-doo work plan required.
The issue everyone is ignoring is that this is sex discrimination perpetrated on a traditional woman who is too chicken to say what needs to be said.
There is more to this story. She is not being promoted to initiate change or to supervise people effectively because she clearly is not up to it.
She is being promoted either to work more hours doing the same thing as before. Or she is being promoted to sign off on crooked dealings and be the fall guy.
She needs psychotherapy. I’m not saying this to be snarky. She needs to address a lifetime of playing the nice girl and it will take years.
Sssss…! Ouch! Wow, Diana! Every situation can be explored in the extreme and you just did it. I love it. There’s nothing wrong with making loads of assumptions and considering a worst case.
You’ve really given me pause about offering a business plan to justify a request for more money. Maybe that’s too much of a concession, but I recommend it as a way to negotiate. I’ve no problem with asking about money instantly and presuming instead that it’s the boss’s burden to explain and justify the extra workload — that is, to “sell” the promotion rather than “confer” it.
I’d love to hear other reactions to what you’ve suggested.
Another benefit of following your approach of developing a business plan demonstrating value delivery and negotiating from it speaks directly to the concern Diana has raised. If Diana’s right about the kind of situation behind the “promotion,” the BP based negotiation demonstrates that the employee won’t allow herself to be taken advantage of. It may cost her the new job immediately and her current position in the next wave of layoffs, but she will know who she is dealing with and will be well advised to seek a new opportunity. If on the other hand, her approach is accepted, she knows that her employer remains a good place to work.
Diana, I’d agree with you that ‘no work plan’. I wasn’t fully on with Nick on that. That should not be required. After all, they want this person for this slot. But what was missing was this person’s interaction with the supervisor, how the promotion was framed, what the company situation is, and how she dealt with it.
Respectfully, I’d disagree with the psychotherapy part. Everyone needs some guidance on what to say and do at some point in our careers, even if they have a ‘go get ’em’ personality. (I’m still learning!) Or they have a personality or come from a cultural background which wants to please first and they put themselves second. Hard edge is not their style nor fits with them. This affects other areas of their life–like medical treatment. They need to listen to people like us and to Nick. Have a plan, work the plan.
Yes, to everything written here.
As an aside, although it wasn’t for a promotion but a job offer I received, I remember the HR guy asking me why I wanted to negotiate the salary amount. I didn’t answer the question but I counter-offered with a number about $3000 more – no explanation needed.
I think I caught him off-guard because it was a low-level role and I’m female; he never dreamed that I’d have the audacity to ask for more money.
I was always taught to never take the first number offered – wasn’t everybody?? BTW, I got what I asked for . . .
Salary negotiations seemingly are always touchy. That’s why company transparency on that is a time saver for everyone. I’ve worked the gamut from it was top secret to in a small company where we simply posted (the STARTING pay) with the job.
In one company I worked for my boss will kill any consideration if a person tried negotiating salary. Yet on other stuff no problem (e.g. moving costs).
This is one area where recruiters acting as intermediaries add value. To me it was more about saving face than money. You could give a hiring manager what it would take to make a successful offer, and to the applicant what the best offer will be.
Of course they could do this themselves..if they’d talk. But then there’s that ego thing.
“Of course they could do this themselves..if they’d talk. But then there’s that ego thing.”
You just explained one of the most important benefits of working through a good recruiter. Note that I said GOOD.
Well, you come off like some snarky Karen to me.
How do you know this person is some milquetoast traditional woman that you’ve already marginalized (so much for sisterhood)?
Employers pull these tricks continually; the assumption (and blatant disrespect) that the person (like this woman) is a chump that will accept a bogus job promotion with no additional compensation, and you better take it as is, and be grateful, or you’ll be kicking the can down the road, or some kid will swallow the deal, and be offered it out from under you. Implying that alleged sexism is at play here is a load of crap. They play this game on men, and I’d argue far more often, than on women.
I would argue that they play this game equally with both genders. We ate taught in our culture thjat it isn’t good form to negotiate salary.
In 2009 I was laid off from my job at a very small company during the Great Recession, but I was rehired 4 months later by this company. My annual salary was increased by $5,000. However, I had a 4-month backlog of work sitting in my office, so I was very busy in the next few months, catching up with the workload.
I retired a few years later. Using some inflation calculators I found on the Internet, I learned that my salary had not kept up with increases in the Cost of Living.
Still, I was happy that I had been rehired then, because the job market was abysmal. And my employer paid one-half of healthcare premiums for my family.
@Georgette: I have no argument with anyone that accepts an unsatisfying deal if they must so they can pay the rent and keep food on the table. I just want people to be aware of what they’re doing and to realize there are ways to negotiate if their circumstances permit it.
Great topic. While I agree it is important to ask about compensation, it is not the only consideration when evaluating a job promotion. Specific examples might include the opportunity to increase one’s skill-set and work experience, strategic fit with long term career aspirations.
@John: Thanks. I agree with you — it’s not just about pay. Since the other “comp” factors in a promotion clearly have value, wouldn’t you think the employer would enumerate them as part of “selling” the promotion to the employee?
This brings a focus on two points:
1. A smart employer presents a promotion in all its glory, like a sales presentation, to entice the employee so they actually want it. (e.g., new skills, etc.).
2. Like a job offer, all the terms (including the employee’s new obligations) should be presented in full, with all details provided in writing. The employee should not be left wondering about the terms (like pay).
Yes, you do have to wonder if the information above is the complete picture. This employer/supervisor didn’t do a good job at selling the promotion to the person at all. But we’re having an education in how to think about it.
The writer didn’t note whether this was a small or large business. Makes a difference.
What’s not different is the concept of “don’t talk money” etc. and that the person is an employee and not an applicant outside trying to look in.
This is about insiders & career development. And as an insider I’ll assume the writer knows how the company’s comp game is played. If not, shame on her. And part of a company environments game is all about money, from budgeting to comp.
For the sake of discussion let’s assume this is a company with an embedded HR, & that as part of it’s charter has laid out a structured comp & benefits system. Say for example, as an Engineer you’d sit in a structure where there would be Entry Engineer, Engineer II, Engineer III etc. or Engineering Manager, Sr Eng Mgr etc. The ranges are usually laid out such that the high end on a lower range overlaps the lower end of the next one up on the ladder. Thus providing a means to give a bump and a good one if the situation warrants it.
Usually in an environment like this, that structure’s not a secret, nor the pay ranges for each, officially or unofficially. By unofficially I mean that I’ve been in company’s where the pay ranges were not published, nor were people to talk about their pay.
Yeah, but this is why God invented networking. And one thing about internal networking, is you don’t have to struggle like a non employee to find out company info that may effect you. As an employee you have a base of operations in the company and are sitting inside of a big network. So if the writer is taking care of business, she should know the comp ranges for her line of work & other lines of interest and HR comp practices.
Now the boss. In a small business the owner makes the call on promos, and your boss may be the owner. But in structured companies you can assume the writer’s boss isn’t going to be able to unilaterally give you a raise or promote you. There’s a process to be followed As a boss I’d have to lay the groundwork. The planning, effort and yes, even strategy, differing for the kind of promo.
1st I need to get an OK from my boss, and possibly the boss’s boss and so on. Ahead of time. Once done then I can move forward. As noted how one gets promoted depends on what kind of promotion.
1. Pro forma growth. Per my example about Engineers. If you’re an entry level Engineer I and you’ve hit into the high end of pay, and you’ve shown you’re ready to move up to Engineering II.As your boss I should have anticipated that & built your promo and raise into a pay plan. Approval of the plan, de facto approves your promo. It’s expected on your part, my part and my bosses part. You know what the job entails, as it’s part of your world. If I’m doing my job I’d have gotten you already involved in a career growth project which demonstrates you’re ready to move up and justifies to promo.This is the most common promo and I’ve never turned down one, nor had anyone turn one down when I did one.
2. The Writer doesn’t seem to be facing this. As her boss, I may have a need driven reason for the promo. She obviously appears to fit the need. For example someone is leaving, or worse has suddenly left my organization and opened up a role. In this case it’s an existing role, but a new challenge for her. Ideally if I’ve done my boss job, per prior talks I have a strong idea this is a good move for her, in both our opinions. And on that basis I can lay out the groundwork.
Laying the groundwork means 1st I brief my boss & propose the promo, & get a green light. Or depending on the person, I may need to confirm the interest & my thinking on pay, with no guarantees. In discussions with her or my boss includes a discussion of comp, my expectations, her expectations and goals. Like the above this is an existing role with an established range so it’s just about hitting the right bump, but there will likely be more daylight for a good bump.
3. Another type of promo scenario is where I decide to redefine an existing role by either doing a reorg and organizational load level, or initiate something new to my org or even to the company In these cases I’m going to have to do a lot of background work before I can talk to anyone. I need to have that all blessed by my higher powers and HR
That kind of investment in time means I really need the right person. As such, this likely is a collaborative situation. Working with the person I’d like to take on the role to help define the role itself and their job. I will talk with her before my boss. So I can define who, what, when.
I’m a big believer that an organization reflects the people in it, not the other way round, and have created jobs tailored for a person to bring that person aboard for mutual benefit.
As a boss, I didn’t like being turned down for offers eg above. Not because my ego was bruised because I don’t want to crawl back to my boss and say the words “She doesn’t want the job. If I’d planned these out well the
most important part of it is the person who’s involved. And that should be reflected back to the person.
Here’s a real example. I managed a team of tech writers. The manager of it was super. He built the department. But he left and I needed to replace him. I had a good replacement in mind. Asked him if he’d move up. He thanked me but said no thanks. Reason, he just didn’t like the idea of supervising what would be his former peers. My short term solution was asking him if he’d take on an Acting Manager role, and help me find a replacement. He did, and we found another person. Armed with the Acting plan I then went to my boss and offered a solution and we moved on with that plan. (That was worth a nice kicker to my 1st choice in his next raise) Note that I did not go to my boss 1st and say “I’m going to promote Mike” then have to go back and say, Mike doesn’t want the job.
As some people have noted “promotions” while generally are a positive thing…are they always? Here’s one of my experiences. Working night and day for a company, making good OT plus meal allowances. Promoted to a higher base pay, but in a role unqualified for OT and losing money.
I’ve seen de facto promos. creeping or rapid role redefinition…i.e. piling on other other functions and work with no change in title and hence comp.
But you can’t assume laterals or reorgs are scams. Sometimes it’s strategic. I’ve moved people sideways because the range opens wide and I can move them forward. Or I’ve worked in situations where hiring and
raises were frozen. But even in that environment. a manager could promote and promotions are instant..it’s not the yearly salary review. If needed, I’d tweak my org to make room for a higher level role.
Long winded context. From what the writer said, She was blindsided, by a boss assuming of course she’d be a happy camper. No sign of any prior discussion, didn’t cover the basics. especially the Big basic, Comp.
Better late than never. She was given a belated opportunity to open up these discussions. And she got a big clue on what kind of boss she was working for. And should ponder for herself…what street value will the promo offer. Can she leverage it for a job somewhere else? She may need to.
Most salaries/wages haven’t kept up with inflation for years. The complete picture is well-described in Robert Reich’s “Inequality for All”. Also, all too many managers don’t understand business plans, and are looking for some kind of emotional “win” more than logic or sense. If they’re from HR, they shouldn’t be part of the discussion, but they may not know it.
Managers also have a threshold. Cross it and you lose; possibly the job. Don’t cross it and you may still lose, but more slowly.
Back in the 1970s, when the earth was young, Lou Grant was given a raise and told to sheare it with his new Producer, Mary Richards. He wanted to keep it all. She persuaded him otherwise, but not with a logical plan. She the notion of fairness, and let him decide what was fair. It’s worth considering. It worked for Bob Cratchit, too, but required ghostly assistance.
I can still recall the day when I was handed new business cards emblazoned with the additional title of “Vice President.” My head suddenly got HUGE…but interestingly enough, my bank account didn’t. Lesson learned.
It is too bad that she didn’t have that conversation with her boss when she was offered the promotion. Even worse is that her boss neglected to bring up compensation or other perqs when he discussed the promotion with her.
Usually, a “promotion” means more responsibility or more work (different work) or both (often both). If you’re offered a “promotion” but no additional compensation to reflect your new duties, additional responsibility, etc., then I think your boss and your company are taking advantage of you. Even worse is that she’s an insider, has already proved herself.
Since her boss has dropped the ball on this, she needs to bring it up. I agree with that a friendly chat would be in order, but before she does that, she should get an updated job description re her new duties, then do some research to find out what that job pays. If the job was previously held by someone else (who has either left the company or has been promotted himself), then there should be a pay structure that she can see or ask for. If it is a newly created job, then she needs to do some research and find out the market value is for similar jobs or the same job in her area.
I truly hope that additional compensation will be awarded to her due to her increased responsibilities; if this is one of those promotions that come with lots of extra work and additional responsibilities but no additional pay (and compensation could mean more vacation time or other perqs if they can’t/won’t increase her pay), then she has to think about whether she wants to continue to work for an employer who doesn’t value her. Sure, the “promotion” is nice, but additional compensation is often the reason people agree to take a promotion. Why would you take on more work, more responsibility, for the same wages?
As a woman in the workforce for over 40 years, this tactic has been seen and used by management for years. With the extent of Covid this past year it has also come back with force, especially for women. When jobs are tight employers will play on the fear that has been instilled. When a vacant position occurs the employer will downgrade the position with less pay yet same amount of duties, then put the sentence in the job description “other duties as assigned” which will normally give the person more responsibilities for less pay than the person before was making. I have seen this tactic quite often.
Others will all of a sudden be transferred to another department taking on new responsibilities without it even being discussed with the employee. All of a sudden they are being told this is your department. Reclassifications of positions are submitted by management without discussion of the current employee of actual duties performed. No supervisor knows everything that their employee, especially middle management employee, will perform on a daily basis. Of course, the reclassification did not go through and no pay increase for the added responsibilities. Yet a person in the same title in a different department will do a great deal less work and be receiving more pay. Being in middle management HR provides no assistance whatever regarding concerns of the middle management employee. This has been evident in prior experience.
Discrimination is still very prevalent in many organizations for the woman, especially when the business world is rocky or job market tight. We are expected to do more without any additional compensation and given the reason that the added duties will enhance your skill market and reclassification to higher position in the future. Yet in fact it does the opposite in many cases and creates more difficulty for the person and change of status in areas that really count, such as authority and decision making. This usually occurs when the boss is scared of the employees talents, skills and abilities and feels threatened.
It is easy to say, have options in your pocket, yet during this day and political environment jobs are not as prevalent as they have been in the past. I specifically chose the medical administration field as it is a category that will not go away.
In some organizations, especially larger ones, if a woman does not accept a promotion or expresses concerns about a change in her responsibilities or duties, they become classified as a trouble maker and are online for the next layoff situation. One day I walked into work and was informed I had 30 minutes to write up justification for my position. Thank goodness I kept records and show accomplishment on the books of saving funding after working only 10 months in the position. I kept my job, my boss lost his.
Every person, woman or man, has to evaluate the situation of their company and what is being asked and required. The employee must decide given the factors of the company, the boss, job climate, work conditions, HR support, higher management, ETC. Is it worth raising concerns? We all wish to be treated fairly. You have to judge based on your experience with the company if they will treat you that way in this situation. I’ve seen it go both ways.
A reputable and ethical company should be forthright and disclose to the worker that the promotion comes with a wage increase of a certain $ amount, and any other perks (bonuses, company vehicle, stock options,,etc.). The worker should also know the new job description and what the expectations are.
A bush league and unethical company will play mental gymnastics and make the worker dig for this information, then become triggered or evasive when the worker inquires about the wages and information for said promotion. Seen this later scenario over and over again.
The article does not say whether this worker lobbied for said promotion, or was selected for said promotion.
I’ve seen (especially with the smaller mom & pop shops) where people are promoted not because they’re qualified for the promotion, but because they’re the only ones available.
I’m a realist, and I live in the real world. Taking this a step further, in light of today employers, what if a worker refuses a promotion? Or if the worker has performance issues in the promotion (think the Peter Principle)? The worker may find themselves in a place they never asked to be.Tenure and loyalty means squat to many of today’s employers, and the worker can invariably find themselves on the unemployment line. It then becomes a matter of “its not what you’ve done for me”, “its what have you done for me lately”?