When Other People Get Promoted

My friend who works below me at my office was recently promoted, and now has the same title and salary as I do. However, my friend’s responsibilities haven’t changed, and since I have significantly more work and often delegate to her, I feel it’s unfair for the company to treat us the same. Is this something I can, or should, bring up? She absolutely deserves the promotion, and I don’t want to seem like I begrudge her success. I also think I may be making too much of a big deal about this because I’m thinking about leaving my job in a few months anyway. — Anonymous

I think it can be really easy to get caught up with what’s happening to other people in the workplace, and, unless you’re in a position of power, it’s good to remember that you have no control over what happens to other people’s careers.

It is easy to wonder, why her? Why not me? This can quickly consume your thoughts in a way that can be really unhealthy—especially if this is someone you consider a friend. Your friend had the good fortune of getting a promotion and a raise, and the only thing you can do is be happy for her.

What you do have control over is your own career. Your concerns about your own salary and title are perfectly valid. At my old job, I was asked to take on more responsibilities after my managing editor left to go work for another news organization. Before she left, she asked me if I was getting a raise, and I told her, yes, that was part of the deal, and she asked me what my title was going to be, and I told her I hadn’t actually thought about that, and that I didn’t really care about having a new title as much as I did about receiving a bigger salary.

We were walking to lunch, and she stopped and turned around and said, “Titles do matter, Mike, and if you’re doing more, your title should match your responsibilities. You are a young person with many years ahead of you, and you won’t have this job for the rest of your life. You will go on to work for other places, and you will tell future employers that you were paid X amount of dollars, and that your title was Y because you had Z responsibilities, and that will show other companies how valued you were by previous employers. If you are going to get something, make sure you’re getting something that you deserve.”

So, Anonymous, go get a better title. If you are doing a job of someone with a better title, you should have that title, regardless of the fact that you may be planning on leaving in a few months. I’m not sure what your relationship with your bosses are, but I hope it’s one where you can be open about your feelings. Set up a meeting, go in, and be prepared. Have a list of of all your responsibilities, and be prepared to defend yourself. Remember that a title is basically a thing they can give to you that won’t cost them anything (unless you’re planning on asking for a raise as well). And if you’re given a negative response, make sure that negative response is backed up by good reasons. If anything, feel good about fighting for yourself.

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12 Comments / Post A Comment

ghechr (#596)

YES! Absolutely ask for a raise and a title change. It has nothing to do with begrudging your friend- in fact while asking for the raise you can tell them that you are happy for her(?) promotion but that because you do all these other things, you ought to be compensated appropriately. And even if you are thinking of leaving your job anyway, why would you pass up the extra income in the meantime? And maybe, like Mike points out, you can use the higher salary and title to negotiate for a higher salary in your next position. Congratulations and good luck!

triplea (#1,234)

I love this advice, just wish it worked for me. :( I asked for a title change and a raise and they didn’t want to do it, despite my glowing reviews and repeatedly telling me that they want to keep me as an employee and they value me, they really do. Clearly not, because I’ve been in this position for too long and once again it is clear that promoting me is not a priority or even an issue. I’m looking for another job but it’s hard. Yay Friday!

@triplea Same here, all of it. It sucks. Although it my case they keep making up “qualifications” I need for the better title that many of the people who currently have that title don’t meet either.

@triplea Is there any way you can negotiate for some type of non-monetary compensation? A good friend of mine asked for a raise and his company couldn’t afford one (or so they said), so he negotiated 8 weeks paid vacation instead. EIGHT WEEKS. He doesn’t travel much, but the “staycation” days are a great mental health boost, and he feels like he has a lot of freedom, which is also good for morale.

triplea (#1,234)

@eternaloctopus I asked if I could update my title because I’ve absorb 2 positions and I wanted it to be reflected on my resume but no dice. I also asked for a salary range for the next position that they’re telling me is mine when the time is right and they won’t even tell me that. I don’t understand anything!!!

triplea (#1,234)

@MilesofMountains Ugh how are you supposed to get around that?

@triplea A year and a half ago I asked for a title change with NO raise, and they still haven’t given it to me yet, even though it would cost nothing! I was told that there are certain extra responsibilities I have to take on before I’m qualified for the new title, even though I already had a heavy workload and even though a coworker of mine got the exact type of title change I asked for without having to take on any extra responsibilities, and her workload was lighter than mine to begin with. So I’ve been spending all of 2012 trying to juggle an overwhelming workload that has basically DOUBLED while crossing my fingers that they’ll change my title by the end of the year. And I’m still paranoid that they’ll find an excuse not to do it. I’m so tired, you guys. So, so tired.

nonvolleyball (#305)

@triplea when was the last time you’ve brought this up? people are inherently kinda lazy, & if you’re seen as a “good” employee, that also probably means they see you as someone who won’t pitch a fit when things don’t go their way (which is something they can take advantage of in situations like this).

unless you just had a conversation about it within the past, I don’t know, three weeks, I’d wait for a calm time & approach your boss: “hey, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reorganization stuff & was wondering if it might be possible to reconsider the issue of my title. could we schedule a meeting in the near future to talk about it?” if they say no, try to push it. “I understand that you feel it’s not an option, but all the same I’d like to have the chance to chat with you about my responsibilities & role within the company.”

assuming you do actually get something scheduled, take that opportunity to put together a (mental) list of all the value you bring to your organization, then sit down with your manager, & see if you can’t–at the very least–get an updated title to reflect the extra work you’ve taken on. & if they’ve given you actual reasons for why this wasn’t an option in the past, try to find counterarguments you can present when you talk.

I know there are companies with goofy organizational structures out there, so I realize that this might be truly Not an Option for shitty reasons. but often, it’s easier for managers to just ignore stuff like this, & gently pressing the issue can ultimately get results. & I am allllll about advocating for yourself in the workplace.

triplea (#1,234)

@nonvolleyball This is really good advice, thank you! Unfortunately I talked to both my direct report and manager last week. Two months ago I was in “prime position” to move forward, in April they were “thinking” about changing my title, and last week now they’ve cycled back to “within the next 6 months!” It’s exhausting. I’m trying to get out.

triplea (#1,234)

@werewolfbarmitzvah Wow that is ridiculous, I’m sorry. I’m tired, too.

nonvolleyball (#305)

@triplea ugh, that’s the worst. well, best of luck on your job search, then (& you too werewolfbarmitzvah); hopefully you both get what you rightfully deserve, either in your current jobs or in awesome new ones.

Megs (#644)

Something my father always suggested was to go in and ask for a raise and title change – but if they refuse, suggest just the title change (it doesn’t cost them anything!) and say you’re willing to revisit the raise at a later time.

Then… hunt for a new, better-paying job with a hotter title on your resume?

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