Proper etiquette for an unsolicted merit raise
July 18, 2012 2:48 PM   Subscribe

What is proper "thank you" etiquette when given an unsolicited raise based on merit?

I lack social skills so honestly don't know what is appropriate here. My immediate manager--who was until recently a teammate--worked with my previous manager--who is now his manager--to push for a raise. I didn't ask for this and certainly did not expect it. $EMPLOYER, while financially sound, has been in a hiring freeze posture and in the last twelve months went through two rounds of "actions." I'm pretty sure there was no budget for this kind of thing.

Reportedly my metamanager had some loose change floating around his budget and decided to throw it my way. Definitely feels like I should do something to express my gratitude (beyond profuse verbal thank yous) but I don't know what, if anything, is appropriate.

posted by Fezboy! to Work & Money (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No profused thank yous are necessary. They value your contribution and want to reward it. Just thank them and the next time you meet to discuss your work/priorities /performance you can talk your goals and their expectations.
posted by mmascolino at 2:56 PM on July 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

Express your thanks verbally (and it doesn't have to be profuse!) and keep doing the good job that got you the raise. In my world, any more than that would seem weird.
posted by rtha at 2:57 PM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Just polite thank-yous. Maybe an "I appreciate your confidence." If you think someone went out on a limb for you, you can tell them how much you appreciate it.
posted by ubiquity at 2:57 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

This exact same thing happened to me at a previous place of employment. I'm pretty sure what happened in my instance was that my new boss/former teammate saw that I was making less than the people who had been there longer but I was outputting as good as, if not better, work than they were.

I just told him "thank you" after the notification and then kept on going as normal. Any kind of big deal you'd make out of this would just make it awkward between you, in my opinion.
posted by jillithd at 2:58 PM on July 18, 2012

There are potential land mines here if you do too much if your co-workers find out. The heartfelt thank-yous are great, and you could drop the hint or say outright, softly, that you were considering asking for a raise sometime. Something like that, that makes your managers know that you were starting to feel that you deserved it, in spite of the economy, and it came a little sooner than you expected, thank them for that, but you did deserve it - but this can be very tricky too.

Gifts are OUT, as that would look a bit like a bribe. It's more that you want to softly congratulate them on their managerial brilliance at recognizing your good work and rewarding you sooner, before you got to the point of asking for the raise, while thanking them at the same time. But all of this very softly.

And keep up the good work and prove them correct.
posted by caclwmr4 at 2:59 PM on July 18, 2012

Remember that this is work - it's a transactional relationship with emotional components, not the other way around. If they needed to fire you to balance the budget, they would. At the moment, they want to retain you (or avoid procedural problems from not paying you as much as comparable employees - I got an unexpected raise that way once myself.) It's not a present or a favor. So polite thanks and continued good work are all that's appropriate.
posted by Frowner at 3:02 PM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

You are obviously worth throwing the money at. I think a verbal, sincere, thank you and continued hard work is the answer
posted by kenaldo at 3:07 PM on July 18, 2012

Spend your first raise (the difference between your old paycheck and the new one) on something -- cupcakes, a few rounds of drinks at the bar, barbecue at your place -- and invite your co-workers and the two bosses to join in.
posted by Etrigan at 3:08 PM on July 18, 2012

Keep doing what you were doing, and don't go out looking for another job. That's the all the thanks they're hoping for.
posted by mr vino at 3:12 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Be careful about celebrating with co-workers with cupcakes, etc. If your company has been through rounds of layoffs and there isn't room in the budget for everyone to get a raise, it's not a good idea to draw attention to your raise. It's also not very professional.

Tell your boss sincere thank you *once* and continue to work hard. They gave you a raise to keep you there. Don't make a big hoopla out of it like you've never had a raise before.
posted by quince at 3:22 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by jeffamaphone at 3:46 PM on July 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the input, everyone. Seems pretty cut/dried I guess. I'll stop wasting time on *Filter (ha!) (just kidding about the ha!) and get back to work.

It's a really informal team--periodically doing the post-work beer in the park thing, sharing sporting event tickets, seeing bands, etc. I have a hard time with separating different roles. It feels a lot like a friend did me a big favor out of the blue instead of the straight up money for effort thing. If a friend gave me a wad of cash I'd probably ply them with beverages or something. This is not appropriate in this case. I'll just be extra generous with my homebrew samples for everyone on the team.

Oh, and keep on keepin' on too. Thanks, AskMefi!
posted by Fezboy! at 3:54 PM on July 18, 2012

I'd say thanks and leave it alone. You can treat the office to donuts, but really, it's between you and your boss, not the whole place. And this I lack social skills is something you can change. Now would be a good time to start.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:54 PM on July 18, 2012

Never say anything. Just continue your outstanding personage.

Do you have a partner? Best friend? Treat that person to dinner. Celebrate your awesomeness privately. Nix the donuts until you win the lotto.
posted by Pudhoho at 4:02 PM on July 18, 2012

Say thank you, and that you really appreciate the recognition in light of the current pay hike freeze, and then privately and quietly celebrate the fact that being given a raise during a pay hike freeze is a tremendous vote of confidence.
posted by davejay at 4:18 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Thanks. I appreciate the appreciation!"

No need to go overboard on this.
posted by Decani at 4:20 PM on July 18, 2012

Yes, your friend got you something nice, so thank him/her, but you do know that you totally deserved it, don't you? Because there is absolutely no way your friend would have gotten you the merit raise if you didn't.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:07 PM on July 18, 2012

Strategically, also realise that seeming overly grateful makes it seem like you don't think you merit the raise and/or have no expectations of salary increases, and that in turn may make you less likely to get them in the future.

"Oh, hey, that's great news, thanks for taking the initiative on that" is basically all you need to say, and you only need to say it once.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:05 PM on July 18, 2012

I think it's okay to write a note, saying something like I'm glad you appreciate my work, and I'll continue to do my best for the company. Then get back to work!
posted by theora55 at 7:26 PM on July 18, 2012

Don't say thank you at all. Say "you're welcome".
posted by brownrd at 8:44 PM on July 18, 2012

Raises are about future behavior, while bonuses are for past behavior. Given the circumstances, your raise may have been given solely to prevent you from leaving, or it may be an indicator that their expectations of you are going to increase.
posted by meowzilla at 11:51 PM on July 18, 2012

The best Thank You that you can offer is to continue your high level of achievement (don't rest on your laurels.... get back to work!)

posted by Doohickie at 8:30 AM on July 19, 2012

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