Problems with Hiring, Equity

Subject: Problems with Hiring, Equity
From: nhickman <nhickman -at- GVI -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:35:22 -0600

Dear Mystery Writer,

There's nothing wrong with knowing what other people make. Don't whip
yourself now that you know. And it's okay to want to make what's "fair."
On the other hand, it's okay if people don't want to reveal what they
make. Yes, it can lead to conflicted feelings. By whatever means you
discovered this fact, possibly even stumbling upon it, remember,
knowledge doesn't change the facts. And this knowledge is now an
opportunity to discover what's important to you and deal with it.

The important thing is, if you feel it's inequitable, it's time to act
on it. It's time to assess your situation and discover how important
different rewards are to you and how much of a change you are willing to
make to get them. Don't stew, and don't blame the person getting more.
After all, more for them does not mean less for you. On the contrary,
more for them means that the "going rate" may have gone up, and you'll
enjoy a similar rate on the market. Don't blame the manager either. They
may be limited as to the percentage of a raise that they can offer you.
Many times, they get an allowable percentage, or even a budgeted amount
every year to give raises. This is before reviews are often done.

There are a couple of things to try. You can try to move up a job level.
Often a promotion leads to more money than is available from the typical
annual raises. Annual raises at companies sometimes don't keep up with
market rates, so you may fall behind after several years. If you have no
career ladder or some sort of leveling, suggest one. Other people can
suggest how to do this, but I will say that your group should have the
same sorts and job level of opportunities for advancement as other
developers in your company. There is no guarantee that by traditional
means your manager will give you a "fair" raise. New salaries often are
budgeted differently from raises.

Give your manager some sort of "toe-hold" to argue for more than usual
money for you. Most likely, an argument will have to be made, so ask the
manager if there is any way you can help structure the argument. It
sounds like an implied agreement has been made to make it up to you.
Well, make it a project. Follow up. Ask, "so can we discuss this further
next week?" Create memos. Dogs love trucks (ok, a bit of the pop culture
reference here), and corporations love reports and memos. They get
things done sometimes when a "gentleman's verbal agreement" sorta wanes
with time. It's the idiom of the culture.

Don't keep track of the mistakes of the new person. You may, however,
report "training time" on your progress reports. Do not in any way stew
about the fact that the new person makes more. It is unlikely it is
personal, and the information that the person is making more should be a
good sign. It means that you could be making more. And in negotiating a
high rate, this person has indirectly helped you! It would be worse
information if you discovered that another of "equitable" worth is
making much less, and salaries were on a downward trend! Hold onto that
thought whenever you feel a little down.

It's a shame that you feel locked in by your benefits. On the other
hand, you mention that you have benefits that will mature and give you a
great sum of money. This is something that you have that a new person
would not. You may also have more vacation time and other things. This
doesn't change the fact that you should be paid at least market rate,
but you do have some assets that don't directly calculate into the
green. What means most to you? Maybe it's a good time to assess. Are you
trusted and esteemed where you are? This is equity that you would have
to build up if you moved. You have some bargaining power in the fact
that hiring and training someone else to do your job will cost the
company. After all, they know now that they have to pay more than
expected! Do you have a good environment, cool people, and interesting
work? God bless you if you don't have a heinous environment!

Yeah, yeah, I know... "show me the money!"

-- Nancy Hickman

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