Q: I have been in my current job for almost a year, and in that time I have had difficulty talking to my corporate boss about issues that concern me. Part of the problem is we work in two different cities and when she’s in town, she’s always rushed, distracted and taking calls on her cell phone. She has given me little guidance and no mention of a raise. I am a good employee, working extra hours, taking travel assignments and going above what is asked or expected. I feel like nothing I do is appreciated. How do I appropriately bring my concerns to light?
A: It can definitely be a challenge to work for a boss who is not present, physically or emotionally, has little involvement in the day to day workings of the company, and shows no interest in her employees.
I assume there must be someone you report to on a day-to-day basis. Starting with your immediate supervisor is the first step. If you failed to start at Point A, your office boss, this may be part of the issue you are experiencing. Calmly state your reason(s) for calling the meeting. Don’t start off with a criticism, but speak to him or her about your concern or request. It may surprise you to learn you can get much more accomplished by working with your local superior, and that your feedback will be welcomed with open ears. Before the meeting, make an outline stating your professional goals and what you would like to see evolve from your current position. Cite specific accomplishments that you have achieved over the past year, and request consideration for a pay increase. Ask for guidance about next steps, for observations about your success in the role, and if there are any areas of concern from his or her viewpoint. Though your supervisor may have to defer to the corporate boss, he or she can be your advocate when you show professional assertiveness.
Here are a few more tips:
- Send a follow up email. After each meeting, or telephone conversation with your boss regarding your ideas, projects or deadlines, send a follow up email outlining what was discussed. This provides reference and a reminder to your boss about details of the conversation. This is especially important when you are not in the same city.
- Set monthly meetings. Suggest meeting once a month in person, over the phone, or on Skype. Ask when would be the best time to have your boss’s full attention. You can’t ask your boss to turn off his or her phone, but you can suggest a meeting without unnecessary distractions.
- Ask for a date when you can expect an answer. By asking for a specific day, you are holding your boss accountable for promptly getting back to you. Make sure to include this in your follow up email for documentation. The week prior, you may want to send a reminder regarding the upcoming date; “I look forward to your decision regarding my raise, (or, revisiting our discussion regarding my raise) please let me know if you have any last questions.”
- “What was your decision based upon?” If your request is turned down, it’s your right to know why you were passed over. It’s also your responsibility to uphold your end by making the appropriate improvements that are holding you back professionally. The reason, however, may be as simple as an overall year of bad sales, or a company that has had to downsize due to the flailing industry. A “no” to a pay raise doesn’t always have something to do with you personally.
- Negotiate other benefits. If your raise is turned down, there may be other incentives available that would keep you interested in continuing your employment with the company. Have a Plan B, and make suggestions that could be a win-win, including working towards an incentive bonus to receive throughout the year. Write down a reasonable number beforehand, to ward off further delay on a decision.
- Pros and cons. Decide if you are motivated to remain at your present job if you don’t get the increase you anticipated. Your time and hard work are valuable, and it’s understandable you want to be compensated commensurate to your professional abilities. On the other hand, feeling over confident may work against you aren’t willing to accept constructive feedback. If you decide to leave your current position you may find yourself struggling due to lack of the same skills you never honed in your last position.