I accepted your offer and work here now. Let's negotiate my salary now!
February 18, 2014 2:12 AM   Subscribe

I started a job several weeks ago and now I think I definitely should've asked for a higher salary. Oops. How soon can I ask for a raise? And how do I broach that subject? I've never had to ask for a raise in my life. Details below. (Sorry the post is quite long because any feedback on how to deal with my specific situation would be great.)

I was heavily courted and recruited for a job I initially wasn't interested in. After having an open mind and meeting everyone and seeing the office, I thought it would be a good step for me career-wise and especially lifestyle-wise. I wanted something with a more flexible pace and this place definitely has that. Plus, everyone seemed really nice and easy-going. My experience also makes me a big fish in a small pond, so I kind of liked being able to come in with absolute confidence and shape the organization and make a big impact. The head of my division told me they were going to offer me $75,000 and he'd hate to see me ask for more and then not be able to get a raise for a while. I actually wanted $80,000 (even though a good friend in the business said I should be asking for $90,000). But I didn't want to do a hard negotiation -- I did that once (and got a much bigger salary), but with it came extra pressure to perform in a situation where I ended feeling unhappy with the work anyway. The higher salary/expectations made my bad feelings in that office even worse. I didn't want to come into this new job with added pressure to perform -- I specifically was looking for a low intensity job, which is why I chose this organization. So when HR offered me $75,000, I just said yes. To be honest, that's the highest salary I've gotten before (probably because I was doing the same job in a sector that underpaid), so it was hard to get too greedy when it was a decent amount over the highest salary I've ever had and I always lived comfortably on my other salaries.

Now I have worked here for a few weeks and I am frustrated. I have no clue what the manager did before me but as far as I can tell she initiated no useful projects that help us meet our goals or prepare for oncoming day-to-day situations requiring immediate attention. There is nothing "in the hopper" and I feel like I have a ton of work ahead of me just to get our department in a decent place. My staff needs to be re-trained too, as far as I can tell. They are seriously lacking the training and basic learnable skills and work ethic I expect anyone doing this line of work to have already. To add to my frustration, one of these employees was given a massive raise and promotion before I started (and after the last manager left). He is basically my No. 2 now. At the salary he gets now (mid 50s), I would've rather hire someone as a deputy who I know can do the job and doesn't need re-training as they have similar experience to me. His massive raise makes me wonder if the division head felt like they saved a ton of money on my hiring. (It also happens he had been at the company almost two years and never got a raise, despite asking a few times, so I guess it was overdue.)

One of my employees revealed to me that the previous manager made around $75,000. I foolishly assumed because I came in here with much more (and much better) experience, they would start me higher than her. But it is extra annoying because of how much she sucked at her job. Since taking over, I had a phone chat with her on the state of on-going projects or projects yet to be done, and the stuff she recommended we devote time to was completely ridiculous. I couldn't believe she felt those were priorities that slipped through the cracks, but it really showed the difference in our experience levels. I really think she should've never been the manager of this department, and they were just very lazy and opted to promote within rather than get a good outside hire. This previous manager was well-liked as a person and is on friendly terms with everyone, so it's very hard to criticize how useless the work she did was. But I am trying to impress upon people that we have a lot of catch-up to do and I find myself apologizing that our department is so under-prepared. (I wonder if anyone even notices though, since they seemed happy with this previous manager and may not know better.) And I think the employees liked her so much, it's hard to make them understand how much she failed when it came to training them to do their jobs well. I feel like the bad guy coming in and forcing new standards and procedures on them, but they really do need it. So progress with my team has been a little tough. (Also: I can't just care less. I either am all in or all out. I will work hard if I feel that's what's necessary to keep us in a good place. Unfortunately, since the last manager did nothing useful, I must work hard -- I thought I was coming into a situation that would be more of maintenance rather than total overhauling.)

So, basically, I feel like I accepted too low of a salary and deserve more. When can I ask for more? And how? I am in a three month probation period (which I don't really understand because I am already a full-time salaried employee with full benefits and they can fire me whenever they want anyway.) But I guess I meet with HR (not my division head?) after three months of me being here and they remove me from probation or something, whatever that even constitutes (I am not positive on what they do though -- all I know is there is nothing gained or taken away after probation ends). I realize I already took the job and I'm here already, and I made a significant relocation to come here for it (and it would be very expensive to move back to where I came from), so I have very little by way of bargaining chips here. It's not as if I can just walk away (not that I'd think I should dick over a new employer like that anyway). But how can I be like "Hey, I expected to take over as captain of a ship that's on the right course. But now it turns out I am needing to do a huge overhaul to get us on the right track. Your last captain sucked. I am awesome at my job. Pay me more, please." I generally like the job and the people so far, but I can't help but feel resentment over my salary, both from a standpoint of how much value I bring and how hard it turns out I need to work. I worry this will make me bitter. Or I worry it will make me want to work less hard, which for me would be not trying at all. It's way too early to let myself start to feel this way.

Any non-judgmental advice would be great! Thanks in advance!
posted by AppleTurnover to Work & Money (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I doubt you can do this anytime soon unless you're prepared to walk, and I doubt more money would make you feel much differently anyhow given how much scorn you apparently feel for everyone in your department, past and present (they're unskilled, underprepared and have poor work ethics and and are overpaid despite making far less than you, and the previous manager was ridiculous, useless, etc.). Not respecting your coworkers is sure to keep you miserable regardless of anything else.

My experience also makes me a big fish in a small pond, so I kind of liked being able to come in with absolute confidence and shape the organization and make a big impact.

IMO one of the inherent problems with such expectations is that organizations that need overhauling need it because they have persistent problems, and there are always entrenched interests of one sort or another keeping those problems in place. Merely knowing what needs to be done on a technical level is not enough to actually get it done if you are managing or depending on other people. There will be political and social hurdles, some of which may be very high. Expecting it to be otherwise is likely to lead to disappointment. The expectation of being able to shape things also directly conflicts with the expectation that it would be easy and not involve significant change (I must work hard -- I thought I was coming into a situation that would be more of maintenance rather than total overhauling.)

I don't know whether you'd be better off staying or going, but I think you should probably stop framing this as a problem with your compensation.
posted by jon1270 at 3:04 AM on February 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

Sorry if I'm not really seeing this, but it sounds like

a) you accepted the offer for significantly more than you prior salary without negotiating even though your friend suggested your market rate is a lot more, hoping for low expectations.

b) Are claiming that you're more experienced and better than the last manager but then describe now everyone else liked the last manager and didn't see a problem.

c) Are not willing to walk away.

I'm really not seeing what your negotiating position is here and why your organization should give you a raise. If your description of your department is correct, then it's not doing a very good job -- so you haven't yet accomplished anything to merit a raise. From the perspective of others, you're not doing anything significantly better than the previous manager -- so why does that merit a raise? And your #2 is making mid-50s, which makes your mid-70s not that unreasonable -- whether you want that #2 or not is a different issue entirely. If it's true that the company wouldn't hire you at more than 75k, then you were hired not because of your amazing skills but because you were a relatively cheap hire; if instead, they were willing to pay more but got a great deal because of your lack of negotiation ... well, does that paint you in a good light?

Sorry to be so critical here, I do sympathize but fear that you may be stuck for a while. Your best bet here is to work hard for a while and make your department awesome and then, ask for a merit-based raise based on specific results. You can't make it too adversarial since you're not willing to walk away, so until your management sees the amazing value you bring, it's hard to imagine them agreeing to a raise. Maybe in a year from now, you can bring this up at your performance review?
posted by bsdfish at 3:18 AM on February 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

First, I think you're probably putting too much importance on how much you get paid relative to others. Your worth, and theirs, is not determined by the numbers on your paycheck. You agreed to work for what you agreed to work for, and so did everyone else. None of your business.

Second, walking into a new organization and immediately assuming that everyone needs to be retrained is, in addition to being a little arrogant, not likely to be particularly productive. Doesn't matter if it's true. The department presumably worked the way it did for some time, and you don't seem to indicate that anyone was unhappy with that. That being the case, what makes you think anyone is interested in shaking things up? And if there is no such interest, what makes you think that you're going to be able to get that done?

Third, remember that unless you are explicitly told otherwise, you have not been hired to do the job that you think needs to be done, but rather the job that your employer wants you to do. I ran into that problem myself at an old job. My job title had to do with regulatory compliance, so I thought "Great! Let's do some compliance work!" Well it turns out that the company didn't actually want me to do that for various internal political reasons. That would have involved telling VPs of other departments that their pet programs were illegal, and there wasn't the internal political will to do that. So they had me doing mostly marketing, instead of the legal work I had thought I had been hired to do. I, fortunately, realized which way the wind was blowing and jumped ship to a job that had me doing real legal work. One of my colleagues didn't realize that, decided to step on those toes, and wound up getting fired. In short: it doesn't matter what you think your job is, it only matters what your employer thinks your job is. If your employer does not think that your department needs whipping into shape, then you're not going to be able to do that. To use your own language, the course your department was on may be the course that your employer wants it to be on, even if you think it's the wrong one. You're probably just going to have to deal with that.

All of those things together say to me that you don't have any real justification in asking for a raise. You agreed to a salary without negotiating, and there's no real takebacks on that. You're coming in at this with a very high estimation of your own value, one which others may not share. And you seem to think that your job is to make major changes in your department, when there's no indication that anyone actually wants you to make those changes. So. . . what's your argument then?
posted by valkyryn at 3:23 AM on February 18, 2014 [14 favorites]

It sounds like there's a lot to be done on this team. Do the work, bring your department up to speed, show them what an impact you've had, then ask for the raise. My company has a 3-month review where this sort of thing gets worked out. Perhaps a 3- or 6-month review would be appropriate in your case?
posted by third word on a random page at 3:24 AM on February 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Can you outline some targets for yourself, discuss them with HR, and go back in 6 months when you've hit them to jump start a renegotiation?

Is there any other compensation like a bonus or more vacation time you can renegotiate instead of your base salary?

Also starting with 'the responsibilities of this role are much greater than I had previously understood during the offer acceptance' is a reasonable position to argue from.
posted by gillianr at 3:35 AM on February 18, 2014

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but I asked for non-judgmental advice -- I do not disrespect or "scorn" my co-workers at all. The department is under-prepared for things it should be prepared for. That's just a fact. It's already happening and I just started. "Hey, where's our stuff on X? Something on it came out and we need this right away." "We never did anything on X." Yikes. If I told you what the former manager suggested I have my team work on, you'd think it was ridiculous too. They liked the previous manager as a person and I think they had different (wrong) expectations for what my department does or how my department responds to things because she didn't manage the department correctly. My experience is different than their experience and, well, it is better experience. Most people honestly don't know what my department does across the board. At every organization I've worked in, people outside of that department never really understood it. People new to the work don't really understand it either until trained. So when I say everyone liked the previous manager, I am not suggesting they understood what would've made her a good manager -- only that they liked her as a human being and assumed she knew what she was doing. I'm open to the idea that I could be looking at the situation wrong, but the truth is, these people haven't been trained properly and the department needs a lot of work if it's going to run at all like it should. That's it. I thought I was walking into an easier job than this will be.

If my only option is to work here for a year and then either ask for a big raise or jump ship, I can do that. But I'd rather get a salary I think I deserve and stay for a while. Especially since I do like my co-workers and I do want to make a lasting impact here. When I streamline things and can prove we're doing better by how much impact our work makes, is it possible to ask in a few months (like 3-6) as long as I can point to improvements? Is it something I could ask HR about in my three-month probationary review thing? Or speak with my division head about it? (The division head allocates the department budget and salaries and is my boss). I mean, people ask for raises and don't get them all the time and life moves on -- would asking for a raise really have negative consequences? Really, I think the most important factor about timing is when I can ask and actually get the raise.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:38 AM on February 18, 2014

Best answer: At my prior job, I asked for a 25% raise after three months on the job. I had significantly lowballed my salary offer to get in the door because I didn't have experience in the field. After three months I approached my boss and laid out my case for a 25% raise, which was granted. My approach to asking about the raise revolved around the value I brought to the company, not what comparable salaries were.

Side note: That's my way of saying that although I'm sure the four paragraph wall-o-text seems relevant to you how/why you ask for a raise, it's not.

I've also been fortunate enough to work for decent companies that value their employees, however. Personally, from my perspective as a manager, if an employee deserves a raise, they deserve a raise -- regardless of how long they've been with the company.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 4:06 AM on February 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Lots of good advice upthread.

You mentioned the small pond - some of your new coworkers and managers (for better or worse) will likely be your coworkers in the future at another firm. It really doesn't pay any dividends to be seen as that guy or gal who is a jerk or arrogant or worse, even when you are absolutely right. A non-outspoken person who has strange ideas that don't go anywhere but is productive and gets along with others will survive a lot longer than person who is 'right in the long run' but is abrasive, doesn't listen, isn't sensitive to the culture etc.

You didn't mention who your manager is, nor what your relationship with him/her is, nor what kinds of discussions you've had in your meetings with him/her about what you were led to believe going into the position and what you've discovered.

Regardless that's the most important information needed here, not the terrible state the prior manager left things in, nor how the new employer got you for a $20k discount. The most important information is where you are headed, and as the Big Fish you'd better tread carefully - because there aren't any other ponds around you can easily work yourself into.

Disclaimer - I work in a medium pond, and it's remarkable who I'm running into again and again. One friend has had to endure three takeovers, and due to prior conflicts - and this person's razor-sharp - he got fired from one of the three takeovers in a week after the deal closed as a Higher Up knew him well from a prior company. Now my friend has to figure out where to relocate again, the medium pond doesn't offer anything even remotely close in his geography, and to move to another pond just isn't realistic given this person's experience.

My advice is whatever your relationship to your hiring manager, arrange a 1-hour one-on-one where you prepare a thorough review of what you've found and a few of your top and best ideas, for the short term (think a 100-day plan), and the longer term (whatever is appropriate for the problems you think are most major).

Only talk for about 15 or 20 minutes max, then listen to what your manager says. If the place is dysfunctional (and the manager can't see your wisdom and disagrees vehemently) well you have a whole set of different problems - you agreed to work in a bad place and need to have a plan B and work somewhere else.

But if the manager sees the wisdom and benefit of what you have to offer (you basically have to sell the benefits, this is a sales job after all convincing the Powers That Be of your value), you ask for support and also ask for a raise. The worst that he/she can say is 'no', but likely it will be something like "let me see what I can do with HR" etc.

I'm just an anonymous person on the Internet but have learned that asking for more compensation shouldn't be a big deal, it's just like asking for a discount at a store. The clerk can get the manager and the manager can say 'no', and then you still have choices to not buy the item. Your manager can say no and you can simply choose 'plan B'. But not necessarily over pay - you can negotiate something else, how about a 6 month review after implementing a 100-day plan, and then a 100-day review to see how you are progressing and get agreement for the next 100 days.

Best of luck.
posted by scooterdog at 4:06 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If my only option is to work here for a year and then either ask for a big raise or jump ship, I can do that.

This, so very much. Listen to your own advice.

You agreed to this salary to start work, and I think a year is a prudent amount of time to prove that you're worth a higher salary and put a lot of weight behind asking for one. You may be able to help this along at your three-month review by letting your supervisor know you're interested in growing, generating results, and interested in the financial compensation that comes with that.

In the meantime, you're in a good position for now and in case you opt to jump ship in a year. You're making more than you did before, and you didn't have to assume the higher level of performance stress you'd have if you'd hardballed. That's worth quite a lot.
posted by mochapickle at 4:08 AM on February 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is very much a "know your workplace" situation, so it's going to be very hard for any of us to say whether or not asking for a raise at the three- or six-month mark would be appropriate.

That said, a couple of thoughts:

1. I mean, people ask for raises and don't get them all the time and life moves on -- would asking for a raise really have negative consequences? It's true that people often ask for raises, are denied them, and move on. But that's not the whole picture. Asking for and not receiving a raise can sour one's relationship with management; they may start to see you as a flight risk or difficult employee, and/or you may begin to resent them. So tread lightly.

2. Asking for a raise for any reason at three months seems virtually unheard of and somewhat risky because it might make management see you as pushy or difficult. I would only ask at three months if you have achieved some truly remarkable accomplishments that go above and beyond whipping the department into shape.

3. Asking at six months is still early, but a little less risky. You could probably do this without serious ramifications to how management perceives you, but only if you've made serious headway with the department and have received significant praise from management for your work.

4. Asking at one year is pretty standard. How would you feel about asking at nine months? I like this time mark because if they say no, the raise discussion can easily be rehashed in three months, when you're at the one-year mark and it's annual review time.

5. This isn't and can't be about market salaries or similar. You should have done that research during the negotiation process, frankly. Your request for a raise needs to be about what you bring to the company and why it is worth a higher paycheck.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:10 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

The bigger issue here is how to deal with being mislead about the job.

It sounds like there are huge structural and maybe cultural problems at this job. Are you sure you have the ability or authority to change all of that? And if you do, do you want to fight this fight for the next few years? Most organizations are naturally resistant to change, and trying to change them radically could mean throwing away the low pressure aspect of the job.

Unless you are barely making ends meet at 75K, another 15K isn't going to matter if the answer to either of the above questions is no. You'll still be miserable and should look for another job, regardless.

If you do ask for a raise, like everyone else says, you should be willing to walk because alarming your bosses and getting fired is in the realm of possibility.
posted by ignignokt at 4:25 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try to do something amazing by the time your initial three month probationary period is over, then ask for a raise during your review. If it is not granted, taper back your expectations for this position and only work as hard as needed. If the previous person was as bad as you say, over the course of the next year, you only need do do about 10% better than she did to justify more money.

However, also keep searching for other positions. In some companies it's just not possible to change the culture. If you have options, it's better to cut and run than to stick it out somewhere you just can't stand. It's bad for your mental and physical health.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 4:38 AM on February 18, 2014

In my experience there are 3 times you can ask for more money, and have a good shot at getting it.

1 - When you're offered a raise / salary in the first place (basic negotiations)

2 - After you've done something significant you can point to that makes or saves the company money

3 - After another person higher up than you or at your level leaves, before their replacement is hired (freeing up money). This one is the trickiest, because you can't say "Hey, I see you suddenly have all this extra money..." - you still have to tie the ask to your overall performance and reasoning - but the fact that the money is there makes it easier for the Powers That Be to say yes. [This does not work after layoffs, obviously]

Right now it sounds like you're saying the job isn't as easy as you thought it would be, and their stated expectations don't match what you see your role as being. This IS a conversation you should have with your boss. And in that conversation, really listen - it's very possible you're right and they're wrong and they need you to do Y and you are an expert in Y (and that's why you deserve a Y-level salary) and for some insane reason they're only asking (and paying) for X. But they're still your management. If that's what they're asking for, then - facts on the ground - that means you were hired to do X, at X salary, and you have to decide whether you want to do that or leave for another job doing Y. You will never convince them that they need Y, even if you talked about it during your interviews. Some people like the sound of the words or feel they must pay lip service to the hard jobs, but as others here have said, are comfortable with status quo and have no real intention to change.

It's also possible they'll back you up and say yes, we do need Y, and you can show them why that is going to be more complicated than you agreed to when you took the job, and can ask for an automatic salary bump at a later time when you've reached certain goalposts toward getting there. But until you are sure you're on the same page about what your job actually is, I'm not sure how feasible that is.
posted by Mchelly at 4:46 AM on February 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

You shook on the deal, it's closed, it is too late (for now) to ask for a raise. Don't take it personally, although you may consider the fact that your negotiation skills may determine how "big" a fish you are going to be in the "pond" that is your new workplace.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:49 AM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Live with the money for 12 months, in that time, turn your department around to the efficient, awesome project machine that you know it can be.

Keep a record of your accomplishments, attach time and money to them:

Automated the thingamajig report, saving the Finance department 40 man-hours a week, and $2,000 per day.

THEN, when you've actually done more than identify the issues, but have actually wrestled them to the ground and triumphed over them, ask for a shit-ton more money. Alternatively, at that time, you'll be in such a great place professionally, that you can jump to an even better job with more money.

Right now though, you're fine where you are.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:27 AM on February 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think it would really help to disentangle the multiple issues you have here.

I know you asked for nonjudgmental advice, and I hope you don't feel like it's judgmental to advise you, gently, that your attitude is coming off -- probably against what you intend -- as a little bit disrespectful to the people you work with. You haven't worked there long enough to know what everyone is capable of; particularly if they've been poorly managed, I think it's too soon to take the attitude that you are hopelessly hobbled by a terrible staff.

The matter of how much you're being paid is sort of ... I mean, I sympathize with what you're saying, but you yourself are saying that your current #2 is paid in the mid-50s and is bad at the job, so for that money, you'd like to hire someone better. That's perhaps what they did with your job -- they were paying 75, and they wanted someone better for that money, so it's not perhaps as surprising as you think that you didn't get an offer of a lot more money than your predecessor was making. They simply wanted a better bang for the buck they were already laying out. I'm not disputing that you may be able to justify a raise, just that I wouldn't sit and steam over that being unfair given your experience -- this is a big job and a hard job, and that's why they wanted someone with your qualifications to do it, presumably.

Some of this seems like fairly typical "my new job is really hard" stuff. You talked about wanting to make a big impact, and perhaps you were envisioning innovation and creativity, but sometimes that big impact is gutting it out and fixing a lot of problems left over from previous poor decision-making. You are sort of like a professional new parent: Congratulations! It's a huge mess. It happens.

Don't tell them that you didn't think the job would be so hard. Don't tell them that you didn't realize they were too lazy to hire the right people, and try not to tell yourself that either. Assume that workplaces are sort of big machines with parts that work well and parts that need fixing and parts that aren't great but work well enough. Focus on how much you can impress people over the next, say, 12 months, and work your ass off, and the compensation question will be a lot easier to answer. "The job is more challenging than I thought it was going to be and this place is full of idiots," even if it's true, is not as good a reason to ask for a raise as "you've seen what I can do."

Have a big impact: fix problems. "Be a person who fixes problems" is the absolute best professional advice I think there is in almost every field. When people ask if you can make something work better, say yes. When people ask you to address something, say yes. People LOVE people who fix problems. And then either they will come up with more money down the line, or you can point to the work you've done there in looking for someone else who will pay you more money down the line.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:34 AM on February 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Mchelly hits the nail on the head.

This would be a really bad time for you to ask for a raise. Asking for a raise is generally appropriate in these situations.
  • When it's your annual or mid year review
  • When you've just done something significant that affects the company's bottom line or makes your managers' lives much easier
  • When you have a job offer from somewhere else
Your justifications are "the job is harder than I thought" and "I think the person before me was incompetent, and I snooped around and found out what you paid her."

These justifications won't go over well. Your manager's gut reaction will be "I guess you need to get better at the job, then," and "so what... that's not your business," respectively. You will probably come off as socially inept and arrogant, to boot... it's just not accepted that someone ask for a raise if they aren't in one of the three basic situations above.

Instead, follow all the advice you've gotten up thread to just take time to meet with your manager about where the department is now, and where it should go (keeping in mind Linda_Holmes' fantastic advice about tempering your frustration and revisiting your attitude). Set some goals so that a year from now, it'll be clear what you accomplished.

And above all, be a solution, not a problem.

Going in and asking for more money now, complaining about your manager's decision loudly, and lambasting all your team members will make you a problem.
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:19 AM on February 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Honestly, you negotiated the salary you got. You accepted it. At this point, you have to perform. If you can't, then you're not worth the raise. Simple as that. If you're as good as you believe, this won't be a problem.
posted by inturnaround at 6:19 AM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

You mention that your second in command went two years without a raise and if the jump to $50k was "massive," he must not have been making very much. That right there tells you something important about the company's views on compensation--they may underpay and be stingy with the raises, but if you're loyal they'll eventually reward you with a big jump. You've also noted that they tend to promote from within and once you've been there long enough to be considered an insider, that will probably work in your favor. However, that culture of compensation is totally at odds with what you want, which is instant recognition of your value and a raise.

It sounds like they do things a certain way, so I would be mindful of that as you navigate talking about an increase in your salary. For them to make an exception for you, you need to be exceptional. If you can bring in a big win or accomplishment for the company in the next six months, bring it up after six months. Otherwise I think a year is your first opportunity. (Keep in mind also that they seem to move slowly; for example, that three month probation period that doesn't actually affect/change anything. Perhaps in their minds the six-month mark will really be the three-month mark because "He just got off probation.")

Has anyone in management said to you that they think the ship isn't on the right course? Has anyone indicated that they also feel your predecessor wasn't doing a good job? If not, I would let that go right now. If management isn't aware of her shortcomings, they're not going to be very happy to hear what will sound to them like excuses: "Well, I really wanted to meet that quarterly goal, but I spent so much time fixing Susan's mistakes that I couldn't." I know you wouldn't literally say that, but I'd avoid anything that even comes close to attributing anything in the department to your predecessor's failures unless you know someone higher-up shares this view.

You also have to be careful because it was partly their fault that "Susan" did so poorly. They either didn't know enough to manage her correctly or didn't provide enough oversight, so criticizing Susan is criticizing them, even more so if they liked her personally.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 6:21 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have 90-day initial performance reviews? That may be an opportunity to re-assess what your job duties actually are there and to see if you're able to request an increase. However, most businesses tend to allot raises for all employees on an annual basis during review periods, unless there's a title change.
posted by xingcat at 6:29 AM on February 18, 2014

The department is under-prepared for things it should be prepared for. That's just a fact. It's already happening and I just started. "Hey, where's our stuff on X? Something on it came out and we need this right away." "We never did anything on X."

Again, if your superiors are okay with this state of affairs--and you haven't actually suggested that they aren't--you're going to have a very difficult time making any substantive changes. Doesn't matter if your department is objectively under-performing. If under-performance is what the local culture is used to and accepts as normal, effecting any change is going to be very, very difficult.

Again, I speak from experience. When I was hired into the job I described above--not as a manager, mind you--I immediately came across what I considered to be fairly major problems with the company's compliance situation. As in "personal liability for the entire board of directors" level of "major". When I raised these issues with my superiors, the response I got was basically "Yeah, we know about that, and we don't care." Mind you, no one said that my analysis was wrong. If anything, I got a slight vibe of "Geez, why'd you have to go and research that? That's not something we want to think about." It was made clear to me in no uncertain terms that it wasn't a priority and that nothing was going to be done about it.

So that was basically that. I read the writing on the wall and kept my head down until I found a new position. The colleague I mentioned didn't, and got fired. In effect, while I wanted to be an attorney, and my job title did say "Attorney," what the company really wanted me to do was be a glorified paralegal. I did not want to be a glorified paralegal.* I started sending out resumes pretty much as soon as I figured that out. I'm confident that in a decade or so, the company will have figured out how to have a legal department, but I wasn't willing to wait that long.

I'm not saying that your situation is exactly analogous to mine, and there's no way I could possibly know that even if it were. But I do think it very likely that your expectations for your department and your position are not necessarily identical to your employer's expectations. You need to work on that, either by adjusting your expectations or convincing your superiors to buy in to your vision. Unless you fix this, one way or the other, you're cruising for a bruising.

And one thing above all: resign yourself to the fact that this is not going to be a situation that resolves itself overnight. If the situation is anything like you're describing, I'd be surprised if you saw much progress in the next calendar year. Even late 2015 might be optimistic in terms of effecting meaningful, lasting change. People have been doing things they way they're doing them for a long time. That kind of institutional inertia can't be turned around on a dime. If you're not okay dealing with this for the next two or three years, at a minimum, you need to find a new job. No raise will make the situation different than it is.

*One of the reasons I went to law school was so that I wouldn't have to spend hours every week futzing with formatting in Word documents because my superiors couldn't be arsed to learn to type, let alone format a document intelligently.
posted by valkyryn at 7:13 AM on February 18, 2014

Response by poster: Maybe my relationship with the division head is more important that the other details I provided -- they probably focus more on my feeling that I want a raise than how I can actually get one. So far I think the division head is pleased with my work and I think/hope he views me as someone who is taking initiative in trying to be a much more aggressive operation. But he is also pretty comfortable keeping a very relaxed pace, much more lax than I am used to. He completely ignores email over the weekend, even on time-sensitive stuff. He often works from home (or is just not in the office). And he has his position on an interim basis and it's not clear when he would be leaving. So I am not so sure this is a long-game scenario, but I guess I need to see how much value I can add in the next couple months that I can use as concrete examples. Is that a fair assessment of the feedback I'm getting?
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:14 AM on February 18, 2014

I'd say so, but the other part is that you'll need to have a plan B in mind because such a raise may not be available at this company no matter how good you are. 'What you're worth' is what a few select companies would be willing to pay you, not what every company will pay you if you ask the right way.
posted by jon1270 at 11:40 AM on February 18, 2014

Given what you've added about the division head. . . maybe. You just have to be prepared for a mismatch in perceived valuation of your "value added". If your "concrete examples" don't actually accomplish things the division head wants or cares about, that's not going to get you anywhere.

What it really sounds like is that the entire department--maybe the entire division--is treading water, and will be as long as the current division head is incumbent. He's interim. He knows it. Everyone else knows it. There's really very little organizational incentive to do much more than just keep on keepin' on until the new guy shows up, because no one has any idea what he's going to want and expect.
posted by valkyryn at 11:46 AM on February 18, 2014

I think a fair assessment of the feedback you're getting is that in all likelihood, a couple of months is too soon after your hiring to ask for a raise.

The advice you're getting about giving it a little time is meant to be helpful: it's not "you shouldn't want a raise" or "you don't deserve a raise." It's "if you want a raise, focus on what you can offer rather than how you want more, at least for a while, because patient good work is probably your best strategy."

But I sense that you're pretty determined to go in and ask for this raise right now or before long, in which case you will probably find out pretty quickly whether they're willing to increase your salary or not, and you will get a better idea of where you stand and what to do next.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:25 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, thread. I think I just need to focus on the fact that I do like my job, I am good at my job, I like my co-workers and this salary is good enough for now. I will keep working hard and trying to build my case to ask for a raise in coming months.

I've already gotten good feedback. I was scrambling this weekend to put something together that I feel the previous manager should've really had ready to go when it was required. It turned out well though, even if I was annoyed, and I was complimented for it by a manager-level colleague. I asked him what the previous manager in my position normally did when those situations arose. He confided that they just wouldn't have asked her for help because she wasn't helpful there. So that made me feel like I am on a good track. The division head seems to like my plans to expand our operation -- he seems very into my goals and sort of relieved he can just let me go and do my own thing.

I just need to make sure the division head actually sees what I am doing and word gets back to him when he isn't involved, so he will have enough info to grant me the raise. I do feel like I can build a case to earn a raise -- maybe not as soon as I want, but sooner than a year. I think I just need to focus on doing good work and making sure it's recognized.

So, thanks for helping me re-focus my thoughts on a) making sure I build a legitimate case for a raise my division head will care about b) not letting this stuff take away from the fact that I was initially happy with my salary and the job. I was maybe being a little bratty and focusing on the wrong things. I think I see a clear path now!
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:33 PM on February 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

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