Author Topic: Disappointed in Recent Promotion - Looking for Different Perspectives  (Read 2460 times)

DanTheYogi

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Hi Everyone,

I have been working at my current company for about 20 months. I work in software development as a product manager (PM). I started in an entry level role in August 2019 making 85K. That year the company performed really well, and I was told that I performed very strongly in my first 4 months, so I got a 2% raise during the annual review process in December to bump me up to 86.7K.

Fast forward to this week. According to my leadership and colleagues, I have been performing consistently at a very high level. There was a comment during our weekly product management department call earlier this week that myself and one other entry level PM who started around the same time as me, had far exceeded even the highest of expectations anyone had when they first posted the two entry level roles a few years ago (this comment was from our VP). I also received the highest individual award that my company has to offer earlier this year. They give them out based on the previous year's performance, which means I received this award after my first full year on the job. Roughly 5% of employees receive this award each year. The award comes with no compensation or bonus - typically it's an all-expense paid weekend trip somewhere nice, but this year they did a big "virtual experience" and they let us pick from some expensive gifts.

Around 2 months ago, my manager brought up to me, unprompted, that I was already performing above my pay grade and current job title, and that a promotion was just around the corner, and there was nothing left for me to do to get one. Just some HR boxes that need to be ticked.

Of course I was eagerly awaiting to hear back on the promotion. Finally, after 2 full months, I received the promotion and raise earlier this week, only to be blindsided to receive a measly ~5% bump in pay, up to 91.1K.

There is some important context I want to provide. First is that we have definitely taken some lumps due to covid. Last year, they were very open with us about decisions around compensation, bonuses, etc., and how they would be impacted by covid. They told us in September that they decided to forego annual pay raises, but were still going to do bonuses and that they were allocating budget for promotions this year. All of that remained true, as promised. What they didn't mention was whether or not raise % for promotions would be severely slashed.

I'm not really sure what to think. In my mind, I have to imagine this HAS to be due to covid - I was told during my first raise cycle in 2019, that if I had been there a full year, I would have gotten the full 6% annual raise offered to employees who perform well. If 6% is a standard annual pay raise, that would mean my promotion was less than what I could have got in a normal performance cycle? It doesn't make any sense at all. But if it is because of covid, they have not made that clear at all.

This really does fly in the face of everything else I have experienced at this company. They treat us SO well, we get so much flexibility in our schedules, unlimited time off, absolutely ZERO micro-managing, everyone is empowered to take risks and make their own decisions. After covid started, I decided I liked wfh and wanted to do it full time, they let me move to a different city without even giving it a second thought. I have received great mentorship and feedback and praise every step of the way. Nearly everyone I work with is sharp, kind, and hard working, and it motivates me to do my best work as well.

Yet with all that said, I ultimately am not passionate about the industry the company is in. While I do love my job for other reasons (culture, people, working on challenging problems, autonomy, building skills), I'm not invested enough in the problems I'm solving to do it for a discount, and there is no doubt that is what I'm doing at this point. It is completely standard in my line of work for promotions to be in the 15-20% range. I figured with covid, it may even be down in the 8-12% range, and I would have been accepting of that.

I'm left with a couple conclusions, in my mind:

1. covid has had a severe impact on budget, and they had to stretch it thin to provide ample promotions. I honestly hope this is the case, though I have a hard time buying it. There is no doubt we will recover as things begin to open up.
2. My company isn't aligned with industry standards when it comes to compensation and promotions. This would also be surprising to me, though not entirely so. I was told there is no negotiation process by a co-worker I am close with, which seems a little strange to me. I certainly wasn't given any opportunity to negotiate though. They are also an "older" software company (founded in the 80's), so that adds some more plausibility to this theory. If this is the case though, I don't know how they retain high-level talent
3. They don't value me as much as is advertised. Also seems unlikely, but at this point I am not really sure what to believe

I am planning on having an open and transparent conversation with this about my manager in our next 1-1 (next Monday). This has also been a bit of a reality check for me. I no doubt was drinking a little bit too much of the kool-aid when it comes to my company. They are just another business interested in profit at the end of the day, and I have no reason to stay so loyal to them. I know I have the skills and ethic to go out and get a similar role at another company fairly quickly with a significant bump in compensation, and there's no reason to think I can't find a company with similar people and culture. I'm in no rush after all while holding my current job, I still enjoy the work I'm currently doing.

Ok, that turned out a bit longer than expected, which is pretty typical for me. :) I have already talked to a few friends about this, but did want to get some different perspectives on this subject. I know that I am really lucky to have such a great job, especially in this moment in time. But at the same time, I don't see that as any reason to sell myself short. What do you all think? I don't want to ask if my feelings are valid (of course they are valid), but I suppose a better question is, are my reactions to this situation valid as well?

Any thoughts or insights are appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Tester

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Think what you want to get out of the discussion and prepare accordingly.

You have three days to do that, make a plan, remove wmotions, review it, remove more emotions, decide what you want to get from the discussion and make sure you do not get sidetracked.

Also, during the discussion, even if the responses are not what you like, do not react. Take your time after to go through what was discussed and decide if you got what you wanted.


As a side note, I am expecting a promotion to come with 20-30% increase in pay,  but maybe I was lucky on my two promotions plus one job change in my career so far.

FIRE 20/20

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I was in this position quite a few times - on both sides - during my ~22 year career.  For context, my company rated people into 3 bands - top 10%, next 35%, and bottom 55%.  I was in the top 10% section roughly 2/3 of the time, bottom 55% twice, and the in between group a little less than 1/3 of the time.  I also won my company's top award (~ 6 awards each year / 30,000 people).  I was a manager for roughly 10 years and during that time I had to rate people into those groups.  I also had to deal with promotions and raises for the people in those groups.  So I have a little experience with this.  I think I was rated too highly a few times and too low a few times, but it all evened out.  I have no idea what happened in your situation, but I can say one somewhat legitimate reason something like this might have happened where I worked was that all employee pay was based on a ratio to the market rate for the position.  If, for example, a manager 1 earned 80k they they tried to keep the average for our manager 1 employees to an everage of 72k.  They felt that was close enough that most people wouldn't leave.  The manager 2 pay industry average might be 100k, so they tried to keep our average to 90k.  In addition, they tried to promote anyone who got about 105% of the industry average and also tried to keep people new to a grade to 80% of the industry average.  It often happened that someone might be at the top of the M1 pay scale and when they got bumped to an M2 position (promotion) they didn't get a substantial raise.  There's more to it than that, but I wonder if something similar happened to you.  If you were very highly paid for your grade level then the raise might have been smaller.  That's just one possibility you didn't mention - I have no idea if your company operates in a similar way.  Your manager should know. 

Anyway, this matches with what I saw happen quite often.  It sucks, but what you're experiencing isn't uncommon.  Here's what I would recommend. 

I think it's a good idea to have a conversation with your manager.  This weekend I would think about what - specifically - you want out of your conversation with your manager.  Do you want your manager to go back and fight for a larger raise?  Do you want him to acknowledge the relatively low raise?  Do you want to understand why it was lower than expected?  Do you just want to yell at him?  By identifying what you want you'll be better able to state it clearly and will have a better chance of getting it. 
In my opinion, one of the most important things during this kind of discussion is to make your manager aware of your disappointment but to avoid issuing demands, ultimatums, or otherwise making the company think that you're so unhappy that you're going to leave.  I can tell you that every time any employee made a demand where I worked the management team essentially wrote them off as a lost cause.  Once the company thinks you're to the point where you're making demands they think that even if they give you what you want you'll still make plans to leave sooner rather than later, so they aren't likely to accept them.  At the same time it's important to convey your disappointment.  This is a fine line to walk.  Where I worked, the best way to handle it was to express disappointment clearly, but to also state how much you like the company, work environment, company mission, whatever.  Make it clear you're not so upset you're going to leave soon, but that you aren't happy.   When we could easily make a good employee happy then we did.  If we had a totally disgruntled employee - no matter how good - we didn't bother to make things better for them.  I can't say I agreed with the approach, but that's how things worked at my version of megacorp. 

I would like to write more but it's late and I won't have internet access for a couple of days.  Good luck. 

Blackeagle

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If 6% is a standard annual pay raise, that would mean my promotion was less than what I could have got in a normal performance cycle? It doesn't make any sense at all. But if it is because of covid, they have not made that clear at all.

Is your promotion related pay raise instead of whatever standard annual pay raise youíll get this year, or on top of it? (Keeping in mind that this year the ď standard annual pay raiseĒ may be 0% due to COVID).

norajean

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You are being promoted. Be grateful. Keep up the good work. Do not complain and stain your record.

DanTheYogi

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I was in this position quite a few times - on both sides - during my ~22 year career.  For context, my company rated people into 3 bands - top 10%, next 35%, and bottom 55%.  I was in the top 10% section roughly 2/3 of the time, bottom 55% twice, and the in between group a little less than 1/3 of the time.  I also won my company's top award (~ 6 awards each year / 30,000 people).  I was a manager for roughly 10 years and during that time I had to rate people into those groups.  I also had to deal with promotions and raises for the people in those groups.  So I have a little experience with this.  I think I was rated too highly a few times and too low a few times, but it all evened out.  I have no idea what happened in your situation, but I can say one somewhat legitimate reason something like this might have happened where I worked was that all employee pay was based on a ratio to the market rate for the position.  If, for example, a manager 1 earned 80k they they tried to keep the average for our manager 1 employees to an everage of 72k.  They felt that was close enough that most people wouldn't leave.  The manager 2 pay industry average might be 100k, so they tried to keep our average to 90k.  In addition, they tried to promote anyone who got about 105% of the industry average and also tried to keep people new to a grade to 80% of the industry average.  It often happened that someone might be at the top of the M1 pay scale and when they got bumped to an M2 position (promotion) they didn't get a substantial raise.  There's more to it than that, but I wonder if something similar happened to you.  If you were very highly paid for your grade level then the raise might have been smaller.  That's just one possibility you didn't mention - I have no idea if your company operates in a similar way.  Your manager should know. 

Anyway, this matches with what I saw happen quite often.  It sucks, but what you're experiencing isn't uncommon.  Here's what I would recommend. 

I think it's a good idea to have a conversation with your manager.  This weekend I would think about what - specifically - you want out of your conversation with your manager.  Do you want your manager to go back and fight for a larger raise?  Do you want him to acknowledge the relatively low raise?  Do you want to understand why it was lower than expected?  Do you just want to yell at him?  By identifying what you want you'll be better able to state it clearly and will have a better chance of getting it. 
In my opinion, one of the most important things during this kind of discussion is to make your manager aware of your disappointment but to avoid issuing demands, ultimatums, or otherwise making the company think that you're so unhappy that you're going to leave.  I can tell you that every time any employee made a demand where I worked the management team essentially wrote them off as a lost cause.  Once the company thinks you're to the point where you're making demands they think that even if they give you what you want you'll still make plans to leave sooner rather than later, so they aren't likely to accept them.  At the same time it's important to convey your disappointment.  This is a fine line to walk.  Where I worked, the best way to handle it was to express disappointment clearly, but to also state how much you like the company, work environment, company mission, whatever.  Make it clear you're not so upset you're going to leave soon, but that you aren't happy.   When we could easily make a good employee happy then we did.  If we had a totally disgruntled employee - no matter how good - we didn't bother to make things better for them.  I can't say I agreed with the approach, but that's how things worked at my version of megacorp. 

I would like to write more but it's late and I won't have internet access for a couple of days.  Good luck.


Hmmm if I'm being totally honest your companies compensation practices sound horribly ancient and bureaucratic and like they have no interest in actually retaining talented people who outperform expectations and deliver results. :) Maybe I'm misunderstanding or missing some context though.  but i really doubt my company operates like this. It is not a 'megacorp' company. We have around 1500 total employees + contractors. My department is particularly small, around ~15 people total. Product Management as a field is relatively green, but it's a highly desirable role and extremely difficult to get into. Having said that - it's like I mentioned, 15-20% is standard in software dev for roles like PM when promoting employees. PM's at this point in time are compensated nearly the same as software engineers, though often times the scale is tipped more towards RSU's than base salary (I did not receive any additional RSU's or bonus increase with this promotion either).

If they truly operated in this way, I wouldn't want to work here anyways, because that would mean my company is not aligned with industry standards and is living in the dinosaur ages. The majority of software dev companies are not so rigid and bureaucratic when it comes to compensation, they will reward their top performers early and often in order to retain talent. It is not uncommon for high performing PM's to increase their salaries by 50-100% (or more) within the span of years, not decades (and the good companies don't let outdated HR policies get in the way of giving these types of raises themselves).

Having said that, your second paragraph definitely resonates with me. I am not going to make any demands to my manager, my plan is to be transparent about how I feel. There are a lot of things to love about my company, especially how I have been treated up until now, which is a big reason why this came as such a huge surprise and disappoint.


To answer the other poster - this is promotion is completely separate from the standard annual pay raise that happens in December (which is still unclear what will happen this year as well).

herbgeek

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15-20% is standard in software dev f

Having been a manager in the last 10 years of my career, this was definitely NOT my experience.  2-3% was for average workers, and I could sometimes talk my upper management into 5% for an excellent performer.  A couple of times I gave a higher percentage than that, when someone came in significantly below market.

Its possible you are in an area where there is high competition for talent, and that the rates you see around you are higher.  If that is the case, and your manager can't meet your expectations, then your best bet is to change positions.

Rdy2Fire

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Think what you want to get out of the discussion and prepare accordingly.

You have three days to do that, make a plan, remove wmotions, review it, remove more emotions, decide what you want to get from the discussion and make sure you do not get sidetracked.

Also, during the discussion, even if the responses are not what you like, do not react. Take your time after to go through what was discussed and decide if you got what you wanted.


As a side note, I am expecting a promotion to come with 20-30% increase in pay,  but maybe I was lucky on my two promotions plus one job change in my career so far.

I agree with others about your companies practices but most of all agree with this ^^ know what you want to get out of this meeting and remove all emotions and do not get sidetracked

With that said, I am not sure I'd even have the 1:1. I'd probably take the few days to think about it this way, you received a promotion(s) and raise(s) you think you have more value, you are not sure you want to be in the industry your company is in, maybe just suck up the current situation and go find the right job in the right industry with a 20% increase.

Jacob F

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I was in this position quite a few times - on both sides - during my ~22 year career.  For context, my company rated people into 3 bands - top 10%, next 35%, and bottom 55%.  I was in the top 10% section roughly 2/3 of the time, bottom 55% twice, and the in between group a little less than 1/3 of the time.  I also won my company's top award (~ 6 awards each year / 30,000 people).  I was a manager for roughly 10 years and during that time I had to rate people into those groups.  I also had to deal with promotions and raises for the people in those groups.  So I have a little experience with this.  I think I was rated too highly a few times and too low a few times, but it all evened out.  I have no idea what happened in your situation, but I can say one somewhat legitimate reason something like this might have happened where I worked was that all employee pay was based on a ratio to the market rate for the position.  If, for example, a manager 1 earned 80k they they tried to keep the average for our manager 1 employees to an everage of 72k.  They felt that was close enough that most people wouldn't leave.  The manager 2 pay industry average might be 100k, so they tried to keep our average to 90k.  In addition, they tried to promote anyone who got about 105% of the industry average and also tried to keep people new to a grade to 80% of the industry average.  It often happened that someone might be at the top of the M1 pay scale and when they got bumped to an M2 position (promotion) they didn't get a substantial raise.  There's more to it than that, but I wonder if something similar happened to you.  If you were very highly paid for your grade level then the raise might have been smaller.  That's just one possibility you didn't mention - I have no idea if your company operates in a similar way.  Your manager should know. 

Anyway, this matches with what I saw happen quite often.  It sucks, but what you're experiencing isn't uncommon.  Here's what I would recommend. 

I think it's a good idea to have a conversation with your manager.  This weekend I would think about what - specifically - you want out of your conversation with your manager.  Do you want your manager to go back and fight for a larger raise?  Do you want him to acknowledge the relatively low raise?  Do you want to understand why it was lower than expected?  Do you just want to yell at him?  By identifying what you want you'll be better able to state it clearly and will have a better chance of getting it. 
In my opinion, one of the most important things during this kind of discussion is to make your manager aware of your disappointment but to avoid issuing demands, ultimatums, or otherwise making the company think that you're so unhappy that you're going to leave.  I can tell you that every time any employee made a demand where I worked the management team essentially wrote them off as a lost cause.  Once the company thinks you're to the point where you're making demands they think that even if they give you what you want you'll still make plans to leave sooner rather than later, so they aren't likely to accept them.  At the same time it's important to convey your disappointment.  This is a fine line to walk.  Where I worked, the best way to handle it was to express disappointment clearly, but to also state how much you like the company, work environment, company mission, whatever.  Make it clear you're not so upset you're going to leave soon, but that you aren't happy.   When we could easily make a good employee happy then we did.  If we had a totally disgruntled employee - no matter how good - we didn't bother to make things better for them.  I can't say I agreed with the approach, but that's how things worked at my version of megacorp. 

I would like to write more but it's late and I won't have internet access for a couple of days.  Good luck.


Hmmm if I'm being totally honest your companies compensation practices sound horribly ancient and bureaucratic and like they have no interest in actually retaining talented people who outperform expectations and deliver results. :) Maybe I'm misunderstanding or missing some context though.  but i really doubt my company operates like this. It is not a 'megacorp' company. We have around 1500 total employees + contractors. My department is particularly small, around ~15 people total. Product Management as a field is relatively green, but it's a highly desirable role and extremely difficult to get into. Having said that - it's like I mentioned, 15-20% is standard in software dev for roles like PM when promoting employees. PM's at this point in time are compensated nearly the same as software engineers, though often times the scale is tipped more towards RSU's than base salary (I did not receive any additional RSU's or bonus increase with this promotion either).

If they truly operated in this way, I wouldn't want to work here anyways, because that would mean my company is not aligned with industry standards and is living in the dinosaur ages. The majority of software dev companies are not so rigid and bureaucratic when it comes to compensation, they will reward their top performers early and often in order to retain talent. It is not uncommon for high performing PM's to increase their salaries by 50-100% (or more) within the span of years, not decades (and the good companies don't let outdated HR policies get in the way of giving these types of raises themselves).

Having said that, your second paragraph definitely resonates with me. I am not going to make any demands to my manager, my plan is to be transparent about how I feel. There are a lot of things to love about my company, especially how I have been treated up until now, which is a big reason why this came as such a huge surprise and disappoint.


To answer the other poster - this is promotion is completely separate from the standard annual pay raise that happens in December (which is still unclear what will happen this year as well).

Compensation is a very delicate and important topic as it includes many trade-offs and stakeholders that need to be aligned in their interest. I wouldn't say the approach is outdated and ancient, as my company follows a similar approach and I am part of senior management there (10 People out of total of 1000 employees - not a Software Company though). I'm also subject myself to limited pay increase even with high performance and recent promotion. It stings, but its understandable as the company needs to ensure that the overall salary levels of comparable positions, seniority and tenure of the respective employees, overall costs, etc. are kept in balance. E.g. it can create a lot of friction in a large organization if the recent hire is paid more than accomplished colleagues that have been with the company for many years. Increases of 20% are very rare and I have never gotten such an increase myself. Instead, these increases are normally stretched over several years (hedonic adaptation, anyone?). Instead, we would increase pay of high performers by 10-15% (promotion + merit increase) per year max until they reach their target grading mid-point salary.

A one year increase of 50-100% is completely unheard of in my industry and I've never heard of this even in my extended friends circle for Full Time employed people (excl. Contractors). This can be done in small startups perhaps, where you start at much lower salaries, but your company with 1500 employees is more in the megacorp territory in my view. They operate in different ways. They can also afford to let you go.

If you'd rather go to a smaller company that can give you more handsome raises and RSUs but might lay you off after a year or two, this option could be good for you. But the risk/reward needs to be weighed in on a personal level. Especially if you're young and don't have many obligations, this could be the better way. Be mindful though, in small startups you're also subject to much stiffer, younger competition and might not be a top performer anymore compared to others. While the grass always looks greener on the other side, this can sometimes be an illusion.

Catbert

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You may not like the advice, but please listen to FIRE 20/20 and Jacob F.

I also have a question about your "promotion".  Did you get an actual "promotion" where your role and duties changed after the promotion or was this a "promotion" in recognition of your better than average performance where you duties stayed the same after the promotion.  This all ties back to what FIRE 20/20 and Jacob F said about salaries needing to make sense in the context of others' salaries.

secondcor521

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You seem pretty convinced that you're underpaid.  Maybe you are, maybe you aren't.

The time-honored way to determine this is to go out and interview for those other positions that treat you as well and also pay 20% or 50% better *and* get offered those other jobs.  Then you can decide what to do with those options in hand.

My opinion based on my experience (20 years in firmware/software engineering, including 5 years as a first level manager) is that you're more than likely to be misinformed or have misunderstood something in the realm of compensation.  But what exactly that is would be difficult to determine, and I doubt you'd believe me anyway.

Good luck.

DanTheYogi

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You may not like the advice, but please listen to FIRE 20/20 and Jacob F.

I also have a question about your "promotion".  Did you get an actual "promotion" where your role and duties changed after the promotion or was this a "promotion" in recognition of your better than average performance where you duties stayed the same after the promotion.  This all ties back to what FIRE 20/20 and Jacob F said about salaries needing to make sense in the context of others' salaries.


It was a promotion into a new role and taking on MUCH more responsibilities (which I have already been doing for many months btw). I think this is worth emphasizing - some people seem to think this was just a standard performance/incentive/annual raise.

I am slightly surprised by the responses (though I truly appreciate everyone providing their perspectives). I can list multiple instances of friends and family right off the top of my head of people in my industry getting drastic pay raises, even at big corps. My brother as a software dev increased his salary by 50% in less than 3 years at Hope Depot. So the comments above do not map onto my personal experience or research at all (and I have spoken to a lot of people and done a lot of research).

Shit, I have an incredibly vivid example from my own career - I was at a true mega corp right out of college (think biggest insurance company in the US). I was a true "cog in the machine" there, and I didn't like my job and was a mediocre employee. Yet I got a bigger total pay bump (despite making 30% less) at my 18 month mark literally just for showing up to work for 18 months in a row.

Truthfully, I am inclined to believe I ran into a sample of people in this thread who have worked at some rather mediocre companies (which wouldn't surprise me, considering this probably fits the bill for most companies). Any company that has even a remote interest in retaining talent is not going to average a 2-3% increase for promotions into more difficult roles and responsibilities. That is ridiculous. :)

Perhaps I am wrong though.

Some points that I absolutely do agree with is 1. I haven't actually proven I'm worth more yet and 2. The grass isn't always greener. That's why I plan on going out and proving that I am worth more. And even if I do, I'm not going to jump ship purely for compensation; it also needs to be a situation I feel really good about.

Another thing I will agree on is that I may be missing some context. This could be entirely due to covid (or maybe some other factor completely out of my control). Like I mentioned in the OP, they give out 5-6% raises for just regular annual raises. So bumping me up by 5% for taking on additional responsibilities and a new title is completely illogical without some external explanation I am not privy to.

I still plan on talking to my manager about this. We have a very transparent and open relationship, and I know he will appreciate my honesty.
 I also trust him to set me straight if he thinks I'm off base. (again, the way people talk about this as if it's going to cause some big commotion by me bringing this up makes me think you all have worked at some mediocre companies that didn't promote open and transparent communication. I have no doubt this conversation will only strengthen my relationship with my manager)

use2betrix

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You seem pretty convinced that you're underpaid.  Maybe you are, maybe you aren't.

The time-honored way to determine this is to go out and interview for those other positions that treat you as well and also pay 20% or 50% better *and* get offered those other jobs.  Then you can decide what to do with those options in hand.

My opinion based on my experience (20 years in firmware/software engineering, including 5 years as a first level manager) is that you're more than likely to be misinformed or have misunderstood something in the realm of compensation.  But what exactly that is would be difficult to determine, and I doubt you'd believe me anyway.

Good luck.

This x1000. Go and out yourself out there. If youíre truly worth more, youíll find a job you like just as much that pays what you think it should.

Very very few careers seem to allow the flexibility you seem to have. Unlimited time off - 100% work from home, zero micromanaging... thatís very, very rare.

ender

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The tech market is on fire right now for senior folks.

Might be worth testing the waters if you're interested in compensation.

DanTheYogi

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You seem pretty convinced that you're underpaid.  Maybe you are, maybe you aren't.

The time-honored way to determine this is to go out and interview for those other positions that treat you as well and also pay 20% or 50% better *and* get offered those other jobs.  Then you can decide what to do with those options in hand.

My opinion based on my experience (20 years in firmware/software engineering, including 5 years as a first level manager) is that you're more than likely to be misinformed or have misunderstood something in the realm of compensation.  But what exactly that is would be difficult to determine, and I doubt you'd believe me anyway.

Good luck.

This x1000. Go and out yourself out there. If youíre truly worth more, youíll find a job you like just as much that pays what you think it should.

Very very few careers seem to allow the flexibility you seem to have. Unlimited time off - 100% work from home, zero micromanaging... thatís very, very rare.


I have been thinking more about the responses from this thread, and I think the other context that is missing is that everything I have said is truly not atypical when working in software dev, even if it may be incredibly rare like you say across most other fields. And I'm not talking about simply being in the IT department of a big corporation where software only supplements their true business. I'm talking about working for true tech companies where software is the core value prop. It is definitely a unique industry, and I know I'm incredibly lucky to be working in it, especially in a field as coveted as product management. You can go to the product management subreddit and see for yourself - breaking into the PM field is absolutely insane these days. I really feel like I lucked into this role in some ways.

I did want to call this out though - I think if you haven't worked in true software dev, you probably aren't going to have an understanding of how unique the industry is, or how insanely competitive it is on both sides of the fence. It's a fierce competition to get in the industry, but there's also a huge arms race between all of the tech companies to offer the best benefits, compensation, and culture in order to attract the best of the best.

ender

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I did want to call this out though - I think if you haven't worked in true software dev, you probably aren't going to have an understanding of how unique the industry is, or how insanely competitive it is on both sides of the fence. It's a fierce competition to get in the industry, but there's also a huge arms race between all of the tech companies to offer the best benefits, compensation, and culture in order to attract the best of the best.

Yet, still, almost without question the easiest way to get a raise is changing companies and not promotions.

Tester

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I did want to call this out though - I think if you haven't worked in true software dev, you probably aren't going to have an understanding of how unique the industry is, or how insanely competitive it is on both sides of the fence. It's a fierce competition to get in the industry, but there's also a huge arms race between all of the tech companies to offer the best benefits, compensation, and culture in order to attract the best of the best.

Yet, still, almost without question the easiest way to get a raise is changing companies and not promotions.

I was happy with the two protions I got (20-30% increase in pay each) plus several other big increases (8-10%) but then I think I hit the sweet/hard spot where I lacked both some wins and some scope and some karma points to get to the next level in my initial company. So I tried to see if I was really ok, moved to a other company with a 25% increase, plus a higher role.
So it might be true...


For the OP: I might be wrong but you seem to not like some of the responses, but in your replies you seem to be against the majority ofnthe replies? I said that I am expecting 20-30% increase with a promotion... :,-).

Again, leave emotions behind and focus on what you want to achieve.
The advice about demands is spot on, except if you are ready to leave.
Having an honest discussion with your manager about your disappointment is the right thing to do - and if it does mot end well you will learn something, but "demanding" something should.mean you are ready to leave of the demands are not met.

I would test the waters and see what else is out there, and make my final decision when I get an offer.

Just hoping to help here.

former player

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So it seems like this is the situation -

1.  You join the company in August 2019 in a coveted role that you feel you lucked into and which has a lot of people wanting to get into.

2.  After 4 months you took part in the December 2019 annual review process and got a 2% raise, a pro-rated increase based on the 6% company wide increase available for a full year's work.

3.  In the December 2020 annual review process, during the pandemic, you got a "top 5%" performer award, a one-off gift rather than a salary increase.  Because of the pandemic there were no company-wide salary increases in December 2020.

4.  In April 2020 you got a promotion and a 5% salary increase.

5.  It is useless you saying "in normal times the standard annual pay rise is 6% so 5% for a promotion doesn't make sense".  It is abundantly clear that these are not normal times.  It is also clear that when the standard annual pay rise is 0% then 5% for a promotion does make sense.

So my take on this is that these are uncertain times, that the company has decided that whatever money it has to spare is going to high performers and promotion prospects, that you fall into both of those categories and have got all the monetary rewards that are going at the moment.

If you aren't happy then of course move on.  But my view would be that you are doing very nicely within this set-up, are well thought of, and are on track for whatever monetary rewards the company can give to high performers and promotion prospects when the course of outside events becomes more certain.  In your position I would give them at least until December 2021 to see how things are going.  If you don't like what's on offer then you'll have two years experience and be a good candidate for moving on up elsewhere.

badger1988

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OP, in the title of this thread you say you are "Looking for Different Perspectives," but are dismissive of the majority of responses because they don't align with your perspective. I would offer my own experience, but it appears I don't work in the right industry or for the right type of employer for it to be valid. What are you actually looking for in response,  because so far this thread seems to me that it was created more as an odd sort of humble-brag mixed with a bit of disappointment?

DanTheYogi

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I did want to call this out though - I think if you haven't worked in true software dev, you probably aren't going to have an understanding of how unique the industry is, or how insanely competitive it is on both sides of the fence. It's a fierce competition to get in the industry, but there's also a huge arms race between all of the tech companies to offer the best benefits, compensation, and culture in order to attract the best of the best.

Yet, still, almost without question the easiest way to get a raise is changing companies and not promotions.

I was happy with the two protions I got (20-30% increase in pay each) plus several other big increases (8-10%) but then I think I hit the sweet/hard spot where I lacked both some wins and some scope and some karma points to get to the next level in my initial company. So I tried to see if I was really ok, moved to a other company with a 25% increase, plus a higher role.
So it might be true...


For the OP: I might be wrong but you seem to not like some of the responses, but in your replies you seem to be against the majority ofnthe replies? I said that I am expecting 20-30% increase with a promotion... :,-).

Again, leave emotions behind and focus on what you want to achieve.
The advice about demands is spot on, except if you are ready to leave.
Having an honest discussion with your manager about your disappointment is the right thing to do - and if it does mot end well you will learn something, but "demanding" something should.mean you are ready to leave of the demands are not met.

I would test the waters and see what else is out there, and make my final decision when I get an offer.

Just hoping to help here.

Haha, I think I missed the end of your first post about the raises you got. Thanks for the catch. :)

I don't plan on making any demands on Monday. My only intention is to open up dialogue around the subject, and let my feelings be known. I'm not sure what will come of it. Maybe he will set me straight and I'll realize how short-sighted and unreasonable I'm being. Or maybe he will give me some kind of reassurance that these are very atypical times.

I'm definitely feeling much better this morning after a good night's sleep. It doesn't really change my plans - I'm going to have a conversation with my manager, as well as beef up my resume/linkedin and test the waters a little bit - but I do feel that most of the emotional charge I have been feeling is gone, so I do feel like I am thinking a little more clearly this morning.



So it seems like this is the situation -

1.  You join the company in August 2019 in a coveted role that you feel you lucked into and which has a lot of people wanting to get into.

2.  After 4 months you took part in the December 2019 annual review process and got a 2% raise, a pro-rated increase based on the 6% company wide increase available for a full year's work.

3.  In the December 2020 annual review process, during the pandemic, you got a "top 5%" performer award, a one-off gift rather than a salary increase.  Because of the pandemic there were no company-wide salary increases in December 2020.

4.  In April 2020 you got a promotion and a 5% salary increase.

5.  It is useless you saying "in normal times the standard annual pay rise is 6% so 5% for a promotion doesn't make sense".  It is abundantly clear that these are not normal times.  It is also clear that when the standard annual pay rise is 0% then 5% for a promotion does make sense.

So my take on this is that these are uncertain times, that the company has decided that whatever money it has to spare is going to high performers and promotion prospects, that you fall into both of those categories and have got all the monetary rewards that are going at the moment.

If you aren't happy then of course move on.  But my view would be that you are doing very nicely within this set-up, are well thought of, and are on track for whatever monetary rewards the company can give to high performers and promotion prospects when the course of outside events becomes more certain.  In your position I would give them at least until December 2021 to see how things are going.  If you don't like what's on offer then you'll have two years experience and be a good candidate for moving on up elsewhere.


I think this is a very accurate summary former player, and I don't disagree with anything you are saying. I definitely am still happy - in fact I am really excited (and also a little nervous) about the what's next for me in my new role, and am in a position to learn a lot and build some valuable skills along the way.

I very well could see an outcome where my manager and I have a frank discussion on Monday, and that allows us to get on the same page and alleviates my uneasy feelings about the promotion.


OP, in the title of this thread you say you are "Looking for Different Perspectives," but are dismissive of the majority of responses because they don't align with your perspective. I would offer my own experience, but it appears I don't work in the right industry or for the right type of employer for it to be valid. What are you actually looking for in response,  because so far this thread seems to me that it was created more as an odd sort of humble-brag mixed with a bit of disappointment?

I think you are spot on badger. Looking back on my previous posts, I can tell I was feeling very defensive, and while I positioned myself as being open to feedback, it was clear I was just looking for more people to validate my feelings.

Even so, everyone's responses has given me a lot of food for thought the past couple days, so I still appreciate everyone's responses. I definitely prefer to have my thoughts and ideas challenged, even if my actions at times may not give that impression.

ender

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OP, in the title of this thread you say you are "Looking for Different Perspectives," but are dismissive of the majority of responses because they don't align with your perspective. I would offer my own experience, but it appears I don't work in the right industry or for the right type of employer for it to be valid. What are you actually looking for in response,  because so far this thread seems to me that it was created more as an odd sort of humble-brag mixed with a bit of disappointment?

As someone who moved from a non-tech industry into tech, I will say the expectations are different.

I work for what is more or less a subsidiary of a large megacorp. We had raises/promotion raises this year; they did not. The reason given was specifically in order to maintain competitiveness in the tech labor market.

My promotion in tech was over 2x what it was in an engineering role from a comp perspective (20% vs 9%). My raises were all higher as well.


Sayyadina

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I work at large software company as an M1, ten years in software overall, four as a manager, so I've also been on both sides of this discussion. Count me as a plus one for the following points - a promotion of even 20% is practically unheard of at my company and the best way to gauge your value is to interview.

I've been musing on this and I wonder if you've been mixing two data sources. Although promotion percentage usually ranges from 8% for juniors to 5% for more senior employees, total compensation can be 20-30% higher than salary at rewards time. If I look at bonus, stock grant, and cost of living increase, a junior employee performing at expectations is going to be looking at 20%ish extra. Personally, my best performing year was probably around 40% as a senior with high rewards and a promotion, but that is far outside the typical bucket and I basically ended up running my team when the rest of the engineering leadership all left as a new lead. Wheeeee!!!

Two more things. I'm pretty invested in my people. I will explain as much as I can about the word vagaries of how our company works and does things, even if they don't present themselves well. But it's so much easier when they come with curiosity than demands. It seems like you've got some of the feels out in this thread, which is great. And I'm saying this as some liable to burst into tears at inopportune times. Anger is a bad look at work.

Lastly, you say your company isn't big. But I clearly remember at one point when I was adding a job to linked in, and I saw that the categories of company for size topped out at 500+. 1500 is big. Maybe not a megacorp, but it's not small. It's certainly large enough to have some rigid processes that could be difficult to make exceptions for. If I was approaching this, I would definitely say something more like - I had these expectations from these data sources. I don't really understand why they didn't happen. Can you walk me through it?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 08:02:51 AM by Sayyadina »

dcheesi

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So it seems like this is the situation -

1.  You join the company in August 2019 in a coveted role that you feel you lucked into and which has a lot of people wanting to get into.

2.  After 4 months you took part in the December 2019 annual review process and got a 2% raise, a pro-rated increase based on the 6% company wide increase available for a full year's work.

3.  In the December 2020 annual review process, during the pandemic, you got a "top 5%" performer award, a one-off gift rather than a salary increase.  Because of the pandemic there were no company-wide salary increases in December 2020.

4.  In April 2020 you got a promotion and a 5% salary increase.

5.  It is useless you saying "in normal times the standard annual pay rise is 6% so 5% for a promotion doesn't make sense".  It is abundantly clear that these are not normal times.  It is also clear that when the standard annual pay rise is 0% then 5% for a promotion does make sense.

So my take on this is that these are uncertain times, that the company has decided that whatever money it has to spare is going to high performers and promotion prospects, that you fall into both of those categories and have got all the monetary rewards that are going at the moment.

If you aren't happy then of course move on.  But my view would be that you are doing very nicely within this set-up, are well thought of, and are on track for whatever monetary rewards the company can give to high performers and promotion prospects when the course of outside events becomes more certain.  In your position I would give them at least until December 2021 to see how things are going.  If you don't like what's on offer then you'll have two years experience and be a good candidate for moving on up elsewhere.
The "danger" I see in this is that even if the low pay bump is due to temporary circumstances, the effect on OP's salary is likely to be permanent. What are the odds that their employer will go back and retroactively correct their salary upgrade to what it would normally have been? IMHO pretty low, especially if they don't make their disappointment known.

Of course, as others have already discussed, the larger danger here is that by making a "stink" about it, they might damage their relationship and standing with their employer. OP seems to feel like that's unlikely in their specific case, and it's impossible for any of us to know whether that assessment is realistic or not. The best we can do is to say "tread carefully".

EDIT: On a separate topic: is the PM role really in that much demand right now? I only have the experience from one company to go by, but my employer has been steadily whittling away at the full-time PM positions for years. More and more, it's just seen as one more role for the R&D (personnel) managers to juggle.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 08:41:03 AM by dcheesi »

Sayyadina

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Or interview.

I've seen it work out for people. I've also had very good, very talented friends learn that they weren't the big deal they thought they were, which actually ended up bringing them a lot of peace in their current role.

One thing I'll say, and it's advice that was given to me at a point I really needed to hear it. 18-24 months is the sweet spot of doing a role where all of a sudden everyone is like "oh! You are this thing!". The questions change after that point. You're granted a certain level of assumptions about your experience than when you've been doing a particular role for 6-12 months.

This doesn't really change the interviewing advice. Go! Find out what's out there!

But also consider what you're getting from your current role right now, especially given how hard it was to break in.

DanTheYogi

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I work at large software company as an M1, ten years in software overall, four as a manager, so I've also been on both sides of this discussion. Count me as a plus one for the following points - a promotion of even 20% is practically unheard of at my company and the best way to gauge your value is to interview.

I've been musing on this and I wonder if you've been mixing two data sources. Although promotion percentage usually ranges from 8% for juniors to 5% for more senior employees, total compensation can be 20-30% higher than salary at rewards time. If I look at bonus, stock grant, and cost of living increase, a junior employee performing at expectations is going to be looking at 20%ish extra. Personally, my best performing year was probably around 40% as a senior with high rewards and a promotion, but that is far outside the typical bucket and I basically ended up running my team when the rest of the engineering leadership all left as a new lead. Wheeeee!!!

Two more things. I'm pretty invested in my people. I will explain as much as I can about the word vagaries of how our company works and does things, even if they don't present themselves well. But it's so much easier when they come with curiosity than demands. It seems like you've got some of the feels out in this thread, which is great. And I'm saying this as some liable to burst into tears at inopportune times. Anger is a bad look at work.

Lastly, you say your company isn't big. But I clearly remember at one point when I was adding a job to linked in, and I saw that the categories of company for size topped out at 500+. 1500 is big. Maybe not a megacorp, but it's not small. It's certainly large enough to have some rigid processes that could be difficult to make exceptions for. If I was approaching this, I would definitely say something more like - I had these expectations from these data sources. I don't really understand why they didn't happen. Can you walk me through it?


The good news is, approaching conversations with curiosity is an essential PM skill, so that shouldn't be an issue. :) But I'm always especially careful with my words when it comes to sensitive conversations like this, which is why I'm confident the conversation will go well, even if it doesn't necessarily lead to the outcome I want.

What you have outlined in the last paragraph is inline with my line of thinking. Shoot, I may as well put down my thoughts in writing here about how I'm considering approaching this:

"In the name of transparency, I want to open up a dialogue about my promotion I received last week. While I am of course grateful to receive a new title and be recognized by my peers and leadership as having progressed so far in my short time here, I was also surprised and a little disappointed by the percentage bump I received in my total compensation. I have done a lot of research and spoken to friends and family in the industry and what I received does not quite align with my own expectations based on market rates and my performance to date. I also understand that these are unusual times with covid, and there may be some extenuating circumstances that I am not privy to. I also want to emphasize that I really cherish our relationship, and I love working for this company and am really excited about my new role and the challenges ahead of me. That's why I want to nip this in the bud, and ensure there are not any lingering negative thoughts or feelings that could potentially impact my ability to show up every day and be my best, most authentic and hard working self. With all that said, would you be able to provide some more context behind the situation? Is there some critical piece of information I am missing here? Or are my expectations simply off-base and unrealistic?"

badger1988

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I am all for open and honest conversations like this. Even better, it sounds like you have a manager who values the same. I've been very fortunate through my career to have similar working relationships, and it makes a huge difference in job satisfaction!

One thing that I think is worth thinking through ahead of time: what are the answers/explanations that would be acceptable to you? I am sure they have a reason promotions are structured the way they are at your company, and based on your comments so far, I believe your manager will likely share an honest answer with you that might not be fully satisfying. You give him a couple easy outs (covid) in your script, but I'm willing to bet you'll find this isn't simply a covid thing, and that the percentage isn't far off the company's historical norm. If you find that this is the case and there isn't much latitude available in this area, then what? Will you be satisfied to simply have your thoughts known/understood? Are you looking for some sort of promise/hope for future earnings growth expectations with continued high performance? Where do you expect the conversation to go?

Anon-E-Mouze

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Suggested re-draft of your planned conversation.

- Don't tell them you've done a lot of research and talked to friends and family. That sounds like you're sharing confidential company information. And frankly, you're not an HR specialist with access to the kind of data they have, so saying you've done a lot of research makes you sound arrogant.

- Don't say "That's why I want to nip this in the bud, and ensure there are not any lingering negative thoughts or feelings that could potentially impact my ability to show up every day and be my best, most authentic and hard working self." Because now, all that manager is going to think is that you're a snowflake, full of negative thoughts, who is only going to perform if you're happy.

- Don't use negative language like "Are my expectations off-base and unrealistic?", because you've now planted the idea in your manager's head that you're capable of being off-base and unrealistic.

- Don't use "cherish" because that's way too lovey-dovey.

- You'll also see that I put in a suggestion to ask your manager about salary bands. In my experience, as an employee and manager, companies often have salary bands and depending on where you were in your prior role, a promotion doesn't always lead to an immediate, significant salary bump. In my own case, for example, I once came into a job at a relatively high salary within Band "B" because I was head-hunted from a job I was happy at during a period when it was an employee-favourable market, and because salary bands hadn't been adjusted for a while. So I was making more than my peers and was sitting near the top of Band B. The next level up had a salary band that started BELOW my salary but went up significantly higher. So when I got promoted to Band C (about a year after I started working at the company), my salary bump was only about 5%. They made up for it later that year with a fairly substantial bonus. A few years later, I got promoted to Band D, and at that time, I was sitting in the middle of the Band C salary range. So when I got promoted to Band D, my salary increase was significant - more like about 33%.

- Finally, in the positive statements about the company, stress that you're looking forward to contributing to the company's success. A promotion/salary raise are given in the expectation that you'll contribute more to the company - they're not a prize for having done well in the past. So your comments need to emphasize that you're a contributor.

Here's the suggested re-draft.

"In the name of transparency, I want to open up a dialogue about the promotion and compensation increased I received last week. Of course, I'm grateful for the new title, opportunity to contribute more to the company in this enhanced role, and the salary increase. However, the compensation increase was lower than I expected in light of my performance and increased responsibilities.

Can you share with me some information about how compensation is determined in a promotion like mine, so that I can put this in context? For example, were comp increases for promotions somewhat lower than usual this year because of COVID and, if so, can we expect larger percentage increases next year if company performance improves? I'd also like to know if there's a salary band for this role and where I currently sit in that band. Is there other information I should know?

I also want to emphasize how much I love working with this company, how much I value our relationship and your mentoring, and that I'm looking forward to the challenges of my new role and the opportunity I've been given to contribute even more to the company's success. That's why I wanted to talk about this at an early stage, so that I can understand the situation."

omachi

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My perspective: you have no idea what you're worth or what you want, and are entirely too reliant upon other peoples' opinions as an attempt to approximate that. Until you decide what you want and are willing to accept, you're going to be floundering. You will be whipped around by nonsensical emotions about your situation, because you have no real yardstick to measure your desires against.

Here are some facts:
  • You got a job you were looking for against some odds and then performed well.
  • Your manager went to bat for you and got you a promotion without your asking.
  • With that, you got a raise you didn't ask for and weren't expecting.
  • You are disappointed.
So let's perform a thought experiment. Take points two and three out. Let us instead say that you were reviewed as doing well. Let's even say excellent for your role, given that award, but they also say they expected you to do XYZ in order to promote you. While they're plenty happy with your performance, sadly nobody is getting raises this year.

So what's your reaction? I'd bet a non-trivial sum that you grumble about no raises, which is actually disappointing, and go off and do XYZ to get your promotion because it seems close and you have clear instructions on how to get it. Maybe you're even happy or excited, because you weren't expecting to be considered for promotion so quickly.

What's the difference here? You're upset by reality, where you're making 5% more than the hypothetical scenario. You're probably happier in the hypothetical. Why? Because you have no idea what you're worth. So rather than do the hard work of determining for yourself, the market research, the interviews, and all that, you outsource it to others and then react based on their assessments. This leads you to your boss said you're worth more, friends saying that if you're worth more then you're worth much more, and you following that logic to disappointment.

I see four real options for you. First, you could whine impotently, and that includes asking your manager why you didn't get the raise you "expected" with the promotion, even though you never expected the promotion. Seems ungrateful. Sure, maybe you get another 1-2%, but at what cost? You'd be punishing your manager for his good deed by making him call in favors and do more work to get you a fraction more that you still won't be happy with. Or he'll shrug and do nothing. So why would you even consider that?

Second, you can accept the promotion and raise and look for an adjustment next year. Be grateful that it's more than you were really expecting. Ignore the notion that it should be more than you got, because it's still more than you asked for. You can work hard for the next year proving you belong in the role. Before review time for next cycle, you figure out what it is you're worth and what you want. You communicate this before reviews are already settled on, stating you've proven you're worth this very specific number and you expect him to get you there this cycle. And you provide some evidence, e.g. salary comps for your area and job postings for similar positions. If you get what you want, great, perfect, be happy. If not, you must take the third option.

Third, you leave. Figure out what you want first, then go get it. You have a new title, new award, new experience, and hopefully some new glowing recommendations. It's incredibly common in the tech industry to have to leave to get what you're worth. A year or two at a place isn't a problem if you're actually good. It's super dumb because it's disruptive when people do leave, but I guess it saves enough in salary to be worth it. Lots of people seem to get attached to the culture, coworkers, perks, and more, so don't want to leave for what could be worse. Or because people just don't put in the effort to know what they're worth. Or don't want to deal with the hassle. (Last one is me, btw.)

Fourth, you accept what you have because you decide the whole package is in line with your worth. It sounds like everything about your position is great, excepting maybe compensation, though that's unclear. Because you're talking in percentages of salary and not compensation relative to what you're worth, I can't tell. You'll acknowledge that what you need to live happily and save plenty is in line with what you're receiving. You're grateful that your company isn't a pressure cooker. You'll make solid relationships with the good people you work with. You'll count your blessings that you can live in any place you want, LCOL or otherwise, while drawing your well above median household income check. You force down the greed in you that tells you that you always have to get more, more, more, and that you were somehow robbed and should be disappointed by getting something you didn't even ask for.

DanTheYogi

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My perspective: you have no idea what you're worth or what you want, and are entirely too reliant upon other peoples' opinions as an attempt to approximate that. Until you decide what you want and are willing to accept, you're going to be floundering. You will be whipped around by nonsensical emotions about your situation, because you have no real yardstick to measure your desires against.

Here are some facts:
  • You got a job you were looking for against some odds and then performed well.
  • Your manager went to bat for you and got you a promotion without your asking.
  • With that, you got a raise you didn't ask for and weren't expecting.
  • You are disappointed.
So let's perform a thought experiment. Take points two and three out. Let us instead say that you were reviewed as doing well. Let's even say excellent for your role, given that award, but they also say they expected you to do XYZ in order to promote you. While they're plenty happy with your performance, sadly nobody is getting raises this year.

So what's your reaction? I'd bet a non-trivial sum that you grumble about no raises, which is actually disappointing, and go off and do XYZ to get your promotion because it seems close and you have clear instructions on how to get it. Maybe you're even happy or excited, because you weren't expecting to be considered for promotion so quickly.

What's the difference here? You're upset by reality, where you're making 5% more than the hypothetical scenario. You're probably happier in the hypothetical. Why? Because you have no idea what you're worth. So rather than do the hard work of determining for yourself, the market research, the interviews, and all that, you outsource it to others and then react based on their assessments. This leads you to your boss said you're worth more, friends saying that if you're worth more then you're worth much more, and you following that logic to disappointment.

I see four real options for you. First, you could whine impotently, and that includes asking your manager why you didn't get the raise you "expected" with the promotion, even though you never expected the promotion. Seems ungrateful. Sure, maybe you get another 1-2%, but at what cost? You'd be punishing your manager for his good deed by making him call in favors and do more work to get you a fraction more that you still won't be happy with. Or he'll shrug and do nothing. So why would you even consider that?

Second, you can accept the promotion and raise and look for an adjustment next year. Be grateful that it's more than you were really expecting. Ignore the notion that it should be more than you got, because it's still more than you asked for. You can work hard for the next year proving you belong in the role. Before review time for next cycle, you figure out what it is you're worth and what you want. You communicate this before reviews are already settled on, stating you've proven you're worth this very specific number and you expect him to get you there this cycle. And you provide some evidence, e.g. salary comps for your area and job postings for similar positions. If you get what you want, great, perfect, be happy. If not, you must take the third option.

Third, you leave. Figure out what you want first, then go get it. You have a new title, new award, new experience, and hopefully some new glowing recommendations. It's incredibly common in the tech industry to have to leave to get what you're worth. A year or two at a place isn't a problem if you're actually good. It's super dumb because it's disruptive when people do leave, but I guess it saves enough in salary to be worth it. Lots of people seem to get attached to the culture, coworkers, perks, and more, so don't want to leave for what could be worse. Or because people just don't put in the effort to know what they're worth. Or don't want to deal with the hassle. (Last one is me, btw.)

Fourth, you accept what you have because you decide the whole package is in line with your worth. It sounds like everything about your position is great, excepting maybe compensation, though that's unclear. Because you're talking in percentages of salary and not compensation relative to what you're worth, I can't tell. You'll acknowledge that what you need to live happily and save plenty is in line with what you're receiving. You're grateful that your company isn't a pressure cooker. You'll make solid relationships with the good people you work with. You'll count your blessings that you can live in any place you want, LCOL or otherwise, while drawing your well above median household income check. You force down the greed in you that tells you that you always have to get more, more, more, and that you were somehow robbed and should be disappointed by getting something you didn't even ask for.

Hi Omachi,

First of all, thanks for the detailed post, I appreciate you taking the time to provide your feedback.

I want to think on what you have said a little more, but one thing I realized I didn't mention at all: I was already planning on asking for a promotion, and I knew the exact amount I was planning on asking for, and also what I was willing to settle for. In-fact (and this may sound made-up, but it's true), it was the same day my manager mentioned I was in-line for a promotion that I was planning on bringing it up myself. He just beat me to the punch. So to say I wasn't expecting a promotion or raise at all, is not entirely true. My manager just confirmed that I was already performing at the next level, and there was nothing else I needed to accomplish to get there.

I will also say I think there is some truth to your hypothetical. Going into that day, I was planning on asking "what else do I need to do in order to get to the next level?" My goal was to aim for a promotion within the next 6 months from that point in time.

use2betrix

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You seem pretty convinced that you're underpaid.  Maybe you are, maybe you aren't.

The time-honored way to determine this is to go out and interview for those other positions that treat you as well and also pay 20% or 50% better *and* get offered those other jobs.  Then you can decide what to do with those options in hand.

My opinion based on my experience (20 years in firmware/software engineering, including 5 years as a first level manager) is that you're more than likely to be misinformed or have misunderstood something in the realm of compensation.  But what exactly that is would be difficult to determine, and I doubt you'd believe me anyway.

Good luck.

This x1000. Go and out yourself out there. If youíre truly worth more, youíll find a job you like just as much that pays what you think it should.

Very very few careers seem to allow the flexibility you seem to have. Unlimited time off - 100% work from home, zero micromanaging... thatís very, very rare.


I have been thinking more about the responses from this thread, and I think the other context that is missing is that everything I have said is truly not atypical when working in software dev, even if it may be incredibly rare like you say across most other fields. And I'm not talking about simply being in the IT department of a big corporation where software only supplements their true business. I'm talking about working for true tech companies where software is the core value prop. It is definitely a unique industry, and I know I'm incredibly lucky to be working in it, especially in a field as coveted as product management. You can go to the product management subreddit and see for yourself - breaking into the PM field is absolutely insane these days. I really feel like I lucked into this role in some ways.

I did want to call this out though - I think if you haven't worked in true software dev, you probably aren't going to have an understanding of how unique the industry is, or how insanely competitive it is on both sides of the fence. It's a fierce competition to get in the industry, but there's also a huge arms race between all of the tech companies to offer the best benefits, compensation, and culture in order to attract the best of the best.

Thatís awesome - since the industry is just drooling for people with your skills, then leave for one of the countless other opportunities with such great environments and even better pay.

Seems like a no brainer.

DanTheYogi

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Suggested re-draft of your planned conversation.

- Don't tell them you've done a lot of research and talked to friends and family. That sounds like you're sharing confidential company information. And frankly, you're not an HR specialist with access to the kind of data they have, so saying you've done a lot of research makes you sound arrogant.

- Don't say "That's why I want to nip this in the bud, and ensure there are not any lingering negative thoughts or feelings that could potentially impact my ability to show up every day and be my best, most authentic and hard working self." Because now, all that manager is going to think is that you're a snowflake, full of negative thoughts, who is only going to perform if you're happy.

- Don't use negative language like "Are my expectations off-base and unrealistic?", because you've now planted the idea in your manager's head that you're capable of being off-base and unrealistic.

- Don't use "cherish" because that's way too lovey-dovey.

- You'll also see that I put in a suggestion to ask your manager about salary bands. In my experience, as an employee and manager, companies often have salary bands and depending on where you were in your prior role, a promotion doesn't always lead to an immediate, significant salary bump. In my own case, for example, I once came into a job at a relatively high salary within Band "B" because I was head-hunted from a job I was happy at during a period when it was an employee-favourable market, and because salary bands hadn't been adjusted for a while. So I was making more than my peers and was sitting near the top of Band B. The next level up had a salary band that started BELOW my salary but went up significantly higher. So when I got promoted to Band C (about a year after I started working at the company), my salary bump was only about 5%. They made up for it later that year with a fairly substantial bonus. A few years later, I got promoted to Band D, and at that time, I was sitting in the middle of the Band C salary range. So when I got promoted to Band D, my salary increase was significant - more like about 33%.

- Finally, in the positive statements about the company, stress that you're looking forward to contributing to the company's success. A promotion/salary raise are given in the expectation that you'll contribute more to the company - they're not a prize for having done well in the past. So your comments need to emphasize that you're a contributor.

Here's the suggested re-draft.

"In the name of transparency, I want to open up a dialogue about the promotion and compensation increased I received last week. Of course, I'm grateful for the new title, opportunity to contribute more to the company in this enhanced role, and the salary increase. However, the compensation increase was lower than I expected in light of my performance and increased responsibilities.

Can you share with me some information about how compensation is determined in a promotion like mine, so that I can put this in context? For example, were comp increases for promotions somewhat lower than usual this year because of COVID and, if so, can we expect larger percentage increases next year if company performance improves? I'd also like to know if there's a salary band for this role and where I currently sit in that band. Is there other information I should know?

I also want to emphasize how much I love working with this company, how much I value our relationship and your mentoring, and that I'm looking forward to the challenges of my new role and the opportunity I've been given to contribute even more to the company's success. That's why I wanted to talk about this at an early stage, so that I can understand the situation."


Hi Anon,

Thanks for this - I really like your re-draft. I'm not sure if I entirely agree with some of your points about my original content, but it is good food for thought.

What I like about your message is that the questions are precise and pointed. If anything I think you help put into words what I was thinking but could not articulate properly. I also like how you sandwich the questions between the things I'm grateful for, and how much I value our relationship and working at the company. I will definitely be using most of this.

omachi

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Hi Omachi,

First of all, thanks for the detailed post, I appreciate you taking the time to provide your feedback.

I want to think on what you have said a little more, but one thing I realized I didn't mention at all: I was already planning on asking for a promotion, and I knew the exact amount I was planning on asking for, and also what I was willing to settle for. In-fact (and this may sound made-up, but it's true), it was the same day my manager mentioned I was in-line for a promotion that I was planning on bringing it up myself. He just beat me to the punch. So to say I wasn't expecting a promotion or raise at all, is not entirely true. My manager just confirmed that I was already performing at the next level, and there was nothing else I needed to accomplish to get there.

I will also say I think there is some truth to your hypothetical. Going into that day, I was planning on asking "what else do I need to do in order to get to the next level?" My goal was to aim for a promotion within the next 6 months from that point in time.
That's fair. I was a bit confrontational, but I hope I didn't come off as mean-spirited about it. I've been there with compensation. I've known plenty of others in tech in the same boat. The whole field seems to be geared towards making people leave rather than compensating to a point where people won't. And that causes lots of torn feelings over whether it's worth it to leave just to chase more money in an industry that has pretty good wages anyway.

I also want to say that knowing what you wanted and whether or not you got that is far more relevant than the percentage you got. For all I know you came in at 80th percentile salary and a 5% raise drops you to 78th. Or came in at 10th percentile and a 20% raise would move you to 35th, which would still be underpaid for somebody doing an excellent job. If what's eating at you is that you didn't end up with what you'd have settled for, then that's the problem. That it sounds like where you ended up is below what you had previously decided was the minimum you'd accept and you haven't started shopping your resume around hints that your line wasn't as firm as you thought. To my mind, that means you haven't really made up your mind on what you want, and much of my post still stands.

Sayyadina

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@DanTheYogi How did it go?

DanTheYogi

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@DanTheYogi How did it go?

Hey thanks for checking in. My manager ended up having to reschedule last minute, the call got moved to this Friday. So I haven't discussed with him yet.

I will post a fuller retro come this weekend, but I will quickly say - I woke up feeling much different come Monday morning. Truthfully, I have been feeling quite silly and a little embarrassed with how I reacted, even if only in my head and on an internet forum.

I'm very grateful for my job, and I think I'm pretty damn lucky to have it for a number of reasons. I lost sight of what's really important for a while there - ever since my manager mentioned it to me in March, it was always on the back of my mind whenever we would have a 1 on 1. I think I started to become a bit obsessed with it subconsciously, which clearly had a negative effect on me.

I have approached work with a different mindset than I have in a while this week, and it's been my one of my most productive and fulfilling work weeks in months. I'm feeling really good about things.

I'm certainly not proud of the pettiness I fell into in recent weeks, but I think I will look back on this as a valuable learning experience.

I do still plan on having a conversation with my manager, but it will be emotion free and come from a place of 100% curiosity - my only interest is to better understand why my own perceptions were so off, and so that I can have more accurate expectations in future situations.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to chime in, even when I wasn't being particularly receptive feedback. You may have saved me some from causing some actual damage. :)

APBioSpartan

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Fellow product guy here.  Been a PM, a Sr. PM, and manage a team of PMís.

Without knowing specifics of your role/location, and product being so loosely defined org by org, itís hard to comment on whether or not your compensation is appropriate.  Generally speaking though, it seems low and you are right to be disappointed with that raise, assuming that it came with a large increase in important and strategic responsibilities..  Did this promotion come with a Sr. PM title?  Or something different?  Can you elaborate on the work that you took on?

If I were you, I would start interviewing elsewhere for a few reasons.  1) it will keep your interviewing skills fresh and give you an idea of whatís out there <and> 2) it will give you an idea of the market rate for your position.  Iíll give you a warning though that Iíve personally learned the hard way.  Culture is everything.  Iíve been a PM at a startup that had cultural and management issues and it completely sucked the joy out of product for me.  Iíve had other positions, where lesser compensated, that re-sparked my love of product.  Donít make the mistake of focusing on comp, and make sure that you are looking at the full picture (find a manager that you can learn from, find peers that you can collaborate with, etc. etc.). I can promise you... no matter how good you think you are at product, thereís still a million things that you can learn with a good manager and team.  Once you stop learning, or feeling challenged, switch companies and/or industries and things will be completely different.  Almost as if youíre a new pm again :)

Best of luck.  Product is a truly challenging and rewarding career.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 09:15:36 PM by APBioSpartan »

gooki

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Welcome to IT business.

If you want to up your pay I see two options.

1. Grind your way up to a VP position.
2. Job hop.

From my experience, you get the biggest pay jumps when negotiating your salary for a new job. Some times I just throw out big numbers for shits and giggles, yet half the time they bite.

Sayyadina

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I woke up feeling much different come Monday morning. Truthfully, I have been feeling quite silly and a little embarrassed with how I reacted, even if only in my head and on an internet forum.

Better to get it out with us than stumble through your conversation with your manager. Sounds like you have a good plan. Best of luck getting the answers you are hoping for!

omachi

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...I woke up feeling much different come Monday morning. Truthfully, I have been feeling quite silly and a little embarrassed with how I reacted, even if only in my head and on an internet forum.

I'm very grateful for my job, and I think I'm pretty damn lucky to have it for a number of reasons. I lost sight of what's really important for a while there...

I have approached work with a different mindset than I have in a while this week, and it's been my one of my most productive and fulfilling work weeks in months. I'm feeling really good about things...
Hey, good for you! That sounds much healthier than where you were and a lot more like you've evaluated (or reminded yourself of) what you really want.

badger1988

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@DanTheYogi, sounds like you've been able to take a step back and make a better assessment of the full situation rather than focusing just on your initial disappointment around compensation. Good for you! I hope your conversation goes well with your boss tomorrow.

The megacorp I work for has a very rigid, clearly defined structure for annual merit increases, promotions, and annual bonuses...all of which are significantly affected by annual performance rating. I started my career in a 15-month rotational development program, which ended with a built-in promotion to the next salary grade in October. Throughout my rotations, all of my supervisors gave me very high ratings. For my year-end review, my new boss gave me an average rating, leading to a lower-than-I-expected annual raise and bonus. When I pressed for an explanation, he informed me that although I had exceeded expectations all year and continued to perform well for the two months after the promotion, I didn't get the higher rating because I had just been promoted and it is highly unusual in our division for someone to recieve a high rating and promotion in the same year. I was very dissatisfied (and still am) with that logic. Why did I even bother putting effort in all year when I could have coasted to my guaranteed promotion and ended with the exact same rating? Out of frustration, I applied for and was offered a job at a different company that would have come with a decent salary increase. Thankfully, I considered more than just salary. Most other aspects of my job were positive, and the new offer didn't seem to be as good of a fit. I've stuck with my original employer since, and my disappointment in that moment quickly faded. Over time, its clear to me that I've made the right decision. I'm extremely satisfied with my workplace and experiences. In the long run, compensation has worked out just fine...I've had years with bonuses of nearly 50% of my annual salary, and overall feel fairly compensatedand valued for the work I do. Beyond that, I've had many more opportunities for growth here than I would have had if I left 8 years ago.

DanTheYogi

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Hi Everyone

Had the conversation yesterday, and it went extremely well.

First, a little additional context that I did leave out...

I recently got a new manager. He's also my 4th manager in the ~21 months I have been here, which obviously is not optimal. The good news is, the new manager's work responsibilities finally align with my own - this wasn't true for my previous 3. Well it was technically true for the 2nd one, but he was a senior director and had no time for me, which is why they eventually put someone else in-between him and I from a reporting perspective. On top of having work alignment, I also connect with him in a way I didn't for my first 3 managers. Even though I'm just now reporting to him, he started around the same time as me. I have had many conversations with him before, and in the few 1-1's we've had, I've already connected with him personally in ways I never did with the previous managers. I honestly would not be surprised if he has some mustachian tendencies, he is a very mindful and thoughtful person, and really cares about his team.

Anyways, I opened up the dialogue with him about the compensation and he was extremely supportive. Since he just became my manager, he didn't have a lot of answers about salary/HR questions, but he said he was going to meet with HR next week to ask about salary bands and get a better understanding of how salaries are determined.

He also agreed with me that I am taking on a lot of responsibilities, and that from his view, I am already starting to shift more into the next role above the one I just got promoted into, and that his goal is to get me an additional promotion by the end of this year. Of course, he said there's no guarantees, but he definitely wants me to feel fairly compensated.

He also gave me some practical tips to help me stand out more to upper management when it comes to putting my leadership qualities on display. He gave me some real, tangible action items of things I could work on in order to do so.

All in all, a fruitful and positive conversation. I am also stoked about reporting to someone who I feel is truly in my corner and committed to helping me grow and advance in my career.


All that said - I am still applying to a few places that sound really interesting to me. I figure it can't hurt to test the waters, especially since I am playing from a position of strength, and will have no problem turning down offers that don't really excite me. At the least, I may at least get some verification around what I'm really worth.

Otherwise, I am totally focused and committed on doing great work at my current company. There has been a big org reshift in the past few weeks, and I'm going to be taking on a much larger and more complex workload very soon (this is also why I got a new manager, and why he commented that I am essentially already moving into the next level above my current one). I'm not concerned at all about the compensation though, I am only excited about getting to tackle some really challenging problems, step outside of my comfort zone and grow my personal and professional skills along the way. I know that compensation will eventually take care of itself.

One of the things that really helped me break the spell was a thought experiment similar to omachi's. I just remembered where I was approximately 2 years ago - living with my parents, tutoring math for 13 an hour and looking for a job. Then I asked myself: "if you had told me then that in 2 years time, I would have a kickass job, making approx 100k total comp, working on challenging and rewarding problems with really awesome people and leadership, and the ability to work wherever I want, how would you feel?" I don't know if I would have even believed that to be possible.

It's one of the follies of human nature that MMM has discussed many times before - hedonic adaptation. Hopefully I can use this experience to be a little more mindful in the future when I start taking how fortunate I have been in life for granted.

Zamboni

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It sounds like you had a solid conversation and that you have a reasonable new manager. Great!

When you first enter a real career track, the raises and promotions can be big and come fast. That's where you are. Enjoy it!

Long term, though, things often do end up working the way FIRE 20/20 described. I've been in situations where I got a 15-20% increase one year, then only 1.7% the next year, lol, as the manager goes to bat to get someone else a huge raise, or as the economy cools down a bit. There is indeed a fixed pool of money, and every company has some sort of system to keep salaries in check and in line with the market. Your best bet is to not take it personally, and keep having conversations just like the one you described with your manager.