Skip to main content
nine to five
The question

I asked my boss for a modest raise and they offered me a managerial promotion with more tasks and responsibilities. I have no interest in being a manager. I’d just like to be compensated fairly for the current job that I have. What should I do?

The first answer

Lyse Cornelius-Biggs, vice-president of People, Properly, Toronto

First of all, kudos to you for having a clear idea of what you do and don’t want in your career – that can be difficult for a lot of people.

Based on your boss’s response, it seems a clarifying conversation is in order to get on the same page about what your professional goals are, and the path you see yourself on. Some leaders make assumptions that being promoted to a more senior position is the automatic goal for everyone, but it’s important to recognize that not all growth trajectories look the same. For many people, growth may mean staying in the same role, but taking on new projects, working with new teams or deepening their knowledge in a given area. Becoming a manager is not the end goal for all employees – nor should it be. Recognizing this diversity in career paths is an important skill of any leader, so take this as an opportunity to have a conversation with your boss about your professional goals for growth and development.

In terms of compensation, these conversations can sometimes feel difficult – it’s great that you’ve been forthcoming and raised your concern with your boss. Along with the clarifying conversation about your career goals, there is an opportunity to discuss your desire for recognition of the contributions you’ve made in your current role.

Your boss clearly sees you as a valuable member of the team. In your follow-up conversation, thank your boss for their recognition and clarify that taking on a managerial role isn’t your goal at this stage. It’s important to reinforce that your request for a salary increase is a desire for recognition of your contributions and impact in your existing role. Focus on the data and results you’ve generated that showcase the impact you’ve made on the organization – is there revenue you’ve directly or indirectly affected? Have you materially increased efficiency? If there is another reason that prompted your request such as market equity, it would be helpful to gather relevant industry data to support your perspective.

Ultimately, this is an opportunity to focus the conversation on what you do want to achieve at the company and how it would benefit yourself, your teams and the organization at large.

The second answer

Bill Howatt, president and founder, Howatt HR Consulting, Ottawa

Whether you realize it, you have entered a negotiation with your boss. Negotiation allows you to share preferences and collaborate on differences. You have indicated what you want. Be open to the possibility that your leader values you and is trying to help you make higher compensation. What are the consequences for your employer if they pay you more? For example, it may be setting a new compensation amount for your level of employment. It may seem easy to think employers can pay more if they want to. However, this may not be the case in the current economic climate because of volatility in input costs and economic uncertainty. Negotiation requires being open to the other side’s challenges, not just your wants.

One logical step is understanding your boss’s flexibility to increase your compensation without taking on a new role. If they have no such flexibility, then you have three options. Consider taking the manager role and how this could help your compensation and career path; continue doing good work and hope the compensation model changes soon; or look for other employment options with better pay. Being paid fairly is important for feeling valued. However, so is working in a psychologically safe culture, doing work that provides purpose and a feeling the work you do matters. Be aware that in the coming months, many employers will be challenged by inflation and navigating the changing economic landscape. In uncertain times, job security with stable employers is worthy of consideration in any decision-making process.

Have a question for our experts? Send an e-mail to NineToFive@globeandmail.com with ‘Nine to Five’ in the subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.