Should I ask for more money after a raise?
August 5, 2008 8:19 AM   Subscribe

After being promoted and receiving a decent raise I've been tasked with hiring my replacement. My new position is managerial so this new employee will report directly to me. While working with the recruiter I just found out that the position has a maximum salary that is larger than my current one. How do I talk to my boss about this without sounding ungrateful?

First, a bit of background. I've been at the company for less than a year but made enough of an impression that they promoted me. I was making a competitive salary when I started and my raise was decent but not spectacular. I'm looking to hire someone to replace my old position. That new person along with some other people will report directly into me.

I found out today that the maximum salary available for my old position is actually more than I make now - with my new raise. Obviously, that salary is only a maximum amount alloted for the role and is by no means a guarantee. However, that makes me feel a bit odd that the person working directly under me could make more money than I do.

It seems like there are several options on the table:

1. Do nothing about it. Be grateful for my promotion and my salary.

2. Wait to see who gets hired and what their salary requirements are. It's possible that the new employee will demand less money thus nullifying my concern. If they do make more money then and only then do I talk to my boss.

3. Talk to my boss about it right now. I don't want to sound petty but I also feel the need to stand up for myself a bit. To be clear, my boss is very approachable.

So that's the situation. I am not looking to be greedy and don't want to appear ungrateful for the promotion and raise. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this? All comments are much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would go with option #2. It does not necessarily follow that your replacement should earn less than you - even though you are the manager. However I would guess that you would have a reasonable case for asking for a pay rise if this was to happen.
posted by rongorongo at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2008

I'd say go with 3.

Salary isn't a taboo subject, and it's not a question of being ungrateful or greedy. The company is clearly sending out a message that they're willing to pay x for someone to fill your old position, and you've been promoted to a more important position on a lower salary. They may not be expecting to actually pay amount x to your replacement, but there shouldn't really be the possibility of the the person working under you earning more than you do; it could leave you feeling undervalued and resentful later on.

You won't be fired for raising the matter, assuming you found out about the maximum salary via legitimate means. Don't make it sound like a big deal; just explain that, although you're not dissatisfied with your salary, you would like to feel that your salary correctly reflects your position with respect to other employees.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:34 AM on August 5, 2008

Salary ranges often overlap. This is not something to pout about or a reason to demand more money. If this is your first time managing staff that may be a surprise for you, but it's common.

Different candidates are worth more than others; thus the salary range. It's possible that your replacement will bring additional skills, degrees or certifications that you did not/do not have. That person may be more valuable than you are or they may simply be a better negotiator. If they make more than you, then you need to look at the reasons for that.

If you're being paid what you're worth, then you have not cause to complain. Honestly, if you ran to me with this as a reason for a raise, then I'd question your business acumen and your maturity to lead staff.
posted by 26.2 at 8:55 AM on August 5, 2008

Perhaps your employer is different, but mine have been pretty consistent: The "maximum" salary given for any position is an unattainable fiction, a lie perpetuated by HR to make salary ranges appear larger than they are; the practical maximum is between the published minimum and the midpoint. It's likely that the "maximum" defined for your new managerial position is well above what you make today as well.

Care about the midpoint, not the maximum. If the midpoint or "target" salary of a position reporting to you is higher than your current pay, either you are being undervalued or you are managing some very specialized people with very valuable skills.
posted by majick at 9:00 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

What majick said. The max is intended for folks who have been in their position or in the company a long time and are excelling, but do not have any advancement options within the company available to them. So someone would only receive the max for your old position if they had been in that position a long time, and the person in your current one had been as well but has not moved along making room for the person in your former position to move up.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:10 AM on August 5, 2008 [3 favorites]

Ranges are just that. A range.

In my company we have several pay grades that have a large overlap.

Also, in many larger companies your raises are semi-dependent on where you are in your payrange. The 'goal' is to bring employees to the median of their payrange. Hence, even if the new guy is hired at $X higher than you, you would probably pass him soon enough.

Also, business is business. Your working is a for-profit enterprise I assume. Nothing wrong with asking the tough questions, just be tactful and don't take it personal.
posted by ian1977 at 9:17 AM on August 5, 2008

If your maximum salary range in your new position is higher than the maximum salary range of your potential replacement, I would not worry too much. It's likely that they were just setting this up with the understanding that the maximum is just that, and that they want something for the new person to aim for. I think it would be unusual to hire someone, who you would hope would stay at the position for the long term, who had already maxed out the maximum salary range of the position. Thus, I would go with your option #2.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:31 AM on August 5, 2008

have you asked what the expected salary range is for your current position?

that might be a conversation worth having with your boss.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:54 AM on August 5, 2008

I vote for #1. It is possible that your replacement can do your old job better than you did. Not knowing your industry, it is common that front line workers can make more than their supervisors.
posted by Twicketface at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2008

Do not go with #1; that's ridiculous self-abasement. You should not make less than someone who reports to you. My former boss in the proofreading department of Major Accounting Company discovered that a new hire was making more than he was, and he went to his boss and got a substantial raise. Since your boss is approachable, I expect you will come out OK; I vote for #2.
posted by languagehat at 10:14 AM on August 5, 2008

In an ideal world, you should be getting paid more than people who report to you, although that depends on whether you're managing specialists. However, whichever option you choose, I think the most important principle is that you should feel able to discuss your concerns with your manager, openly and honestly. If that's not the case, you have to ask yourself if that's the place you want to work. If you're a new manager, you might like to look at The First 90 Days, by Michael Watkins. Good luck.
posted by the-happy-manager at 11:02 AM on August 5, 2008

If someone below you is earning more money than you (and not a range, because that doesn't mean much) then its a good sign that the market has moved on in greater leaps and bounds than your pay-rises have.

This isn't surprising considering most companies barely track inflation in their standard yearly reviews so even a "decent" pay-rise doesn't put much of a dent in the real-term loss you've been making the rest of the time.

I would wait until someone is hired and then consider querying it if their salary is close or above you.

Personal experience has shown that it is, sadly, quicker and easier to be paid a fair salary for the role by finding another company.
posted by mr_silver at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2008

There is a very big exception to this when you are managing specialists. My husband has worked for the same company for many years. He is not a manager, does not have the skills to manager, would not ever want to be a manager. However, he has tremendous experise and experience in what he does. My guess is that for the last 10 years, he has made more money than the various managers that he reported to. He does his job far better than they could and he would be much harder to replace. In this situation, where the skill set and experience level are different, it is entirely possible for a new manager to making less than an experienced specialist.
posted by metahawk at 1:59 PM on August 5, 2008

...Hmm, just to point out that usually maximum salary ranges are pretty impressive, but the hiring range is between the low to mid point of the range - at my organization if you go above the mid point you need to explain to HR why.

As it was explained to me: assume that a classification range is 40-to 80, 000 dollars. The hiring range would be 40-60,000. The idea being that if that person stays at the company for 10 years, they can continue to get raises for performance but still be in the same classification. Reclassing positions is a bear at my organization, so it really would suck to bring a person in at say, 75,000 dollars, and then with one fabulous performance evaluation top them out of their range.

Perhaps you could ask your boss/HR what range they expect to hire at - that is, is it the low to mid point? No point going in guns blazing about how they're not valuing you until you are sure.

Also, while you're at it - do you know where you are in your classification salary range?
posted by anitanita at 9:03 PM on August 5, 2008

Sounds like you're comparing the bottom of your range to the top of theirs. I'm sure you can go much, much higher than them.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:27 AM on August 7, 2008

« Older smart online sex forums: lizard brains can wait...   |   Recommendations for shopping carts that don't use... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.