Overworked & Underpaid: The Payrise Question
January 8, 2008 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I've been leading a sales team for about a year now in NY and I'm about to have my review. We've been beating targets and just actually beaten the other team in the firm to win the whole year. Great. Or so you might think. I have a boss who seems to think a 'thanks' and pat on the back are reward enough for this. Which would be fine, but for 12 months I haven't been paid any more money for playing my part in running the team. I'm concerned that the boss will think this is acceptable for the coming year as well.

In addition I happen to know that some of my colleagues in non management roles are being paid higher basics than me (some of which I know might read MeFi). Which again was OK last year - time to prove my worth etc, but I can't afford to do it for another year. I could be wrong and I might be offered some sort or raise, but I don't want to leave feeling like I'm being underpaid for what I'm doing. I'm not helped by the fact that my equal number on the competing team in the firm is a 'company man' and I don't think has ever asked for a raise and has always said he is not here for remuneration...
So how do I actually ask for the raise? Or how do I counter if I'm offered a poor one?
I don't want to appear to threaten to leave (although 2 firms have contacted me during the year) or suggest I have this knowledge of other peoples pay, but really want to get the point across that I won't just sit around being underpaid. As a point of note the commission structure is being rewritten to (I hope) include some incentives for managers so I guess this might be used to put me off a basic raise as well.
Tough to manage - thanks MeFi. Discuss....
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If those other offers still stand, find out the details. Take the particulars of your success at this company to the other companies and see what the comp package is. Then take those in hand with you when you discuss the forthcoming year with your boss.

You've already stated the basic problem: "I can't afford to do it for another year." You need to convey that to your boss.
posted by jdfan at 1:11 PM on January 8, 2008

When you are a high performer it is OK to tell your boss, at review time or other times, that you are dissatisfied with your compensation, and I think this is especially so in sales. You have been doing a great job pushing the company's product last year. Time to do the same for yourself.
posted by caddis at 1:17 PM on January 8, 2008

"Mr. Boss-man, sir: as you know, I've been leading my sales team for a year now, and I've seen my team's sales productivity increase significantly during that time period. I really enjoy working here; I'm learning a lot about the Widget-Sales industry, and I'm surrounded by great people who are helping me grow professionally, and I appreciate that a lot.

I also feel as though I add a lot to this company (GIVE EXAMPLES HERE), and, as such, I think it's reasonable for me to ask if you would be willing to increase my compensation package to a level commensurate with the industrty standard for my increased productivity, experience and responsibilities."
posted by dersins at 1:20 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Only one thing to comment from Dersins...

Instead of saying how much the great people there are helping you grow professionally, talk about how much you help others in the firm grow professionally. State what you give to others rather than what they give you.

Good luck to you.
posted by Jandasmo at 1:43 PM on January 8, 2008

The only bargaining chip you have is quitting, so you need to get the idea out of your head that you don't want to threaten to do it. Anything you can say is basically a veiled threat to quit, your only choice is how direct a threat it is.

It may be different in sales, but most people find it a easier to quit and get a higher paying job than to try to bully your way upwards with a low-paying employer. Even if you do get a raise, it'll probably be less than if you just quit for another company.
posted by hamhed at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2008

In my experience the best way to negotiate a raise is to perform above average, document with the business that performance and commit the business to backing up that performance with compensation or get them to commit to specific objectives for you to obtain in order to achieve the desired compensation. Generally the way I have done this is through quarterly reviews and repeated on point discussions with immediate and above managers. In my reviews I have consistently articulated my expectation that I expected the business to compensate me when receiving a consistent superb reviews of my performance.

Businesses do not generally reward employees who do not hold them to making good on rewarding above average performance. Look out for yourself here, most places do not do that automagically, they need to take notice of it and in my opinion have an obligation to articulate exactly what is expected of you to achieve a higher compensation.

I would not say that quitting is your only chip, you have an equally influential card to play if you articulate your expectations clearly and get the same from them. Quitting is the nuclear option.

Set a deadline with them, an intermediate review outside of the standard review times and make it clear that while you are not looking elsewhere for employment that you will need to explore other opportunities that provide consistent recognition of performance.
posted by iamabot at 8:06 PM on January 8, 2008

Following up on dersins, the potential reasons you want a raise are

you've proven you help the company
you've gained some experience and are now contributing at a higher level
you've taken on more responsibility

You could ask for a raise directly. Or, I've also seen people get results not by giving an actual speech but by saying things like "I have recently taken on a lot more responsibility....." with the unspoken question being "so what are you going to do about it?" (I recommend this especially for contexts where you don't know if they're prepared to give you a raise or not; it's a hint: "go look at your budget and find some money in there to give me a raise!" In an annual review, they've probably done that analysis already.)

It also wouldn't hurt to inform them that unfortunately, you cannot afford to work for long at a salary lower than the industry standard (it would help to know what that is or to have another standing offer from somewhere else). Good luck.
posted by salvia at 12:02 AM on January 9, 2008

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