Did you really want that raise?

Did you really want that raise?

Whenever your company ends its fiscal year; a few months before that your boss’s boss will request budgetary needs for the next fiscal year.  After your boss justifies and negotiates those needs he or she will receive some sort of dollars in the form of a budget to work with but, probably not what she was asking for.  In that request will be money for salaries including raises and bonuses.  Many times, the budget may include things like square footage that your department occupies with a cost per square footage.  This even includes a share of the light bill, telephone, software and computer cost.

There is also something called the “burden.”  Simply put your salary not only includes what you take home but what the company has to pay in taxes on your behalf, as well as insurance of different kinds, social security and yes the square footage of your cube or office.

I know one large company that has its workers telecommute a few days each week and two people share one desk when they are in the office.  And by a desk I mean a very small cube.  The proximity to one another is so close that a flatulent individual could take out half the team!  In all seriousness, someone coming to work ill could easily affect the whole team.

Companies live or die by their Profit and loss statements or P&L.  Where the government simply prints more money, ( I use the post office as an example currently $15.9 billion deficit)  a real company has to sell its products and or services at a high enough profit to stay in business and to pay you the employee, keep the lights on, the rent paid and afford to pay for the supplies to continue to produce whatever it is that your company does.

Companies have a set range of what they will pay for whatever your title is.  Once you start making too much (generally from longevity,) you pop up on the radar screen.  While the scale is a sliding scale it does not slide as much as inflation.  In the information technology industry the window actually went down over the last few years because of outsourcing “cheaper labor” and H1B workers who are brought in by the tens of thousands.

Lobbyist petition the government to allow more and more H1B workers into the country each year as their mantra is “that no one in the US can do the job.”  That is not true and any visit to a job fair will wake up those who pettifog the H1B issue.  There will be thousands of people waiting in line to submit their resume’s for a half dozen jobs.  If the lobbyist were truthful they would say that there is no one in the country who is willing to go from a six figure salary to $30K per year.  That is not even a true statement however as I have met many X programmers and IT types who are working at the hardware store and yes Wallmart for less than $10 an hour.  As far as business is concerned, people are expendable.

The review is a tool.

This tool in the most esoteric of realities is a dialogue between you and your boss.  The review is designed to point out areas that need improvement, areas where you are meeting expectations and areas of excellence.  This is also the time that expectations are set for the next year.   The review is written in such a way as to assign some subjective quantitative assignment to you, rating you as a 2 or 3 on a scale of 1to 5.  If there is vertical growth potential or you are the Green Lantern or Wonder Women, than you may get a 4 or 5.

One of my bosses’s had a personal philosophy that there should be some 1’s or 2’s on everyone’s review as “no one is perfect!”  That was the most abhorrent, vile, disgusting flagrant use of the review as a tool; to screw people out of a decent raise.  To take a nit and make more out of it than it, for the sole purpose of lowering ones overall score is simply wrong! But, people do it.

Your survival at any company requires you to do whatever it takes to move up into that next pay grade.  If you don’t or there is not a place to move up to, your time will be limited to how much you make and how valuable you are to that company at that pay range.

There is something called a KPA or Key Personnel Assessment.  Some larger companies will hire outside firms to audit their payroll and personnel, make recommendation and then out of the blue announce a layoff of several hundred to several thousand employees.  If you have been in your job for many years and have not moved up and are not Superman or Wonder Women; you should be dusting off your CV.  If you are outside that range, your boss has to justify your existence to his boss who does not know you from Adam, or care.  It is kind of like buying a shirt at Wall Mart vs. Dillard’s; same shirt, same brand same quality just half the price.

The only way that you want to be on any radar screen is, because you are a super hero!

His boss will take a more pragmatic approach to your employment.  If he can replace you with a young college kid or someone from another country on an H1-B that can be hired at significant cost savings; you will need to find a new gig.   At the end of the day it is about the bottom line, what you bring to the table every day vs. how cheaply you can be replaced.

We as humans take this personally.  I don’t know how you could not take it personally especially with men.  There is a difference between the sexes other than the obvious.  Men identify who they are with what they do.  If you are the type of person who will do what it takes to get the job done, sacrificing your personal life for the company, a lay off will affect you more than an hourly person who simply puts widget A on block B for 8 hours.  I am not saying that they won’t be affected; it just will not be like the former example.

When you get your review and you know that you have busted your hump and your review is loaded with criticisms, get out your CV as you have reached that glass ceiling and are no longer a “good deal.”

I was once asked if I would take a lump sum bonus instead of a raise.  That should have been a huge clue.

I used to have to re-write my reviews for my people often and make them worse than what they were as my boss wanted to use that money for other people and or things.  My department was not valued as highly as the programmers.  Foolishly, his logic was that programmers create and are therefore “creating a product.”  The support staff is simply a necessary evil.  Since their programs were not for sale; just part of the infrastructure they were of no more value than the people who network everything and keep it going.

The moral of this story is; if you get a 2% raise, simply thank them, turn around and leave their office showing as little emotion as possible and be thankful that you were not one of the people getting let go, or riffed.

At the same time, if you have been there for several years, shopping the job market would be a good idea.  It is much easier to get a job if you are working. The simple facts are that you get the best deal when you negotiate up front; during the hiring process.  Once after you are “one of the staff” you become just a cog in the machine.  While I realize that this sounds a little de-humanizing; one should never expect to get the jollies at work.  Few people really enjoy what they do for a living.  If you wake up in the morning and spring out of bed and cant wait to get to work because you love what you do that much, you are in the minority.  They exist and I know people like that however; the majority just goes through the motions.  –Best to you and those that you care about!

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