I apologize for the length of this post (this turned out way longer than I thought it would!), but I want to make sure I cover everything before asking for responses.

I find myself in a bit of an awkward position regarding how to ask for a pay increase (a considerable pay increase at that). My justification for the proposed increase is related partly to my "normal" job performance, but moreso to the continuing evolution of my role within my department. I consider this to be serious enough that I would be willing to at least start the process of looking for another job if something doesn't change with my current situation. My annual performance review will be coming up within the next 4-6 weeks, and I figure now is as good a time as any to bring it up with my boss.

About 3 years ago, prior to entering my current position, I started working on a number of IT-related process improvement projects of my own initiative. My position is not an IT position, and there is no position within my area that is remotely related to IT; I just happened to be someone who knew how to do these things. My projects were very well received, and proved to be enormously useful throughout the department. As a result, I continued, on my own, to work on larger and more complex projects of a similar nature. After a year of this, I was promoted to my current position (not so much because of my technical abilities, but rather because of the problem solving skills and initiative those abilities allowed me to demonstrate).

I am currently a low-level manager with 10 directs. On top of my normal managerial responsibilities, I have continued to develop and maintain more and more sophisticated systems to handle our work, to the extent that there is now almost no process in the department that is not handled within something I have created. I can honestly say that after 3 years of this, the department is almost unrecognizable (in a good way) from what it was when I started doing this work. I don't want to be an arrogant jerk and say that I single-handedly did this, but I single-handedly did an awful lot of it. I can also say that almost none of this would have otherwise happened if I hadn't been there (that's obviously speculation, but it's reasonable speculation).

So my conundrum is this: all of the IT-related "stuff" I've been doing over the years is well above my pay grade, and is not in any way part of my job description or factored into my salary. I feel that it has gone from a "convenient extra thing on the side" to something where it's now fully expected that I'm going to continue to do this as a normal part of my job. This extra work now takes up at least 25-50% of my time, on top of my "regular" 8-hour-a-day managerial responsibilities. I handle this by routinely coming in on the weekends, working on things in my free time at home, and in general working a large amount of overtime.

I know that both my boss and skip consider me to be extremely valuable, and they mention this to me regularly (although whether that appreciation translates into money remains to be seen). If I were to leave it would be a significant blow to the department, as there is no one else there with these skills, and they would have a very difficult time finding someone simply to maintain what I've created, much less to fully replace what I bring to the table. Although there is no position in the department that requires these skills, at this point it would be considered critical that there is someone specifically within the department who can do what I currently do (utilizing our normal IT area to do this work wouldn't cut it, and my boss/skip are well aware of this). I receive glowing performance reviews every year, and fully expect to receive one this year as well.

At the end of the day, I believe the improvements that I've made (and continue to maintain and expand upon) save the department well into the six-figures every year, and this will continue to increase as our department continues to move further in this direction. I would not have a hard time substantiating this if I had to. If I'm being honest, I feel I should be getting paid anywhere from 30-50% more than I'm getting paid now. However, I don't want to go into the discussion with some crazy-out-of-the-question proposal for what I think my salary should be. At the same time, I don't want to undervalue myself.

I would appreciate any thoughts on how I should handle this (or if I'm being completely ridiculous in even asking for a pay increase, tell me that too!). Am I correct that it would be better to have this type of discussion prior to the beginning of the performance review?

flexiblefine's picture about addressing it as a job-description issue? Once you and your boss build a job description that more accurately describes what you actually do, you can then approach the question from the "what is this role worth to the company" angle, rather than any sort of "I think I'm worth more" angle.

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mmann's picture
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Consider reviewing job listings to determine exactly what other companies are calling the work you do.  You can sometimes glean a pay range from these too.

From your description it appears like this might be considered Business Process Management/Engineering, or possibly Service Management.


afmoffa's picture

I did something similar at my last company. I'll spare you the details, but my role evolved such that I was doing 1.5 jobs: the one I was hired to do and the .5 job of maintaining and improving the (very helpful) system I'd put in place. Eventually, I left the company when I realized they didn't see the value of what I had contributed. I went someplace that did. It was a good outcome for me, but a difficult one. Here's what I suggest to you:

1. Don't ask for a raise. I've never heard of a 50% raise. Maybe they exist, but they are too rare to merit discussion. Instead, ask them for a promotion into a position that pays 50% more than you are earning now. It's okay to suggest a new position that comprises your current role and the IT functions you've been doing.

2. Companies do not pay salaries out of gratitude. Companies pay salaries out of fear*. Your company pays you $X because it fears a competitor might otherwise get your services for $X-1 (one dollar less than your current salary). You can't use past accomplishments to justify a higher salary. There are only two ways to justify a higher salary. You can get a promotion to a higher-paying role (see above). Or you can convince your firm (through market research) that a competing firm would pay you more. I'm not saying you need to walk into your annual review brandishing a job offer from the firm across the street, but you should have some decent information about what the market thinks your services are worth.

Companies aren't entirely cold-blooded, "what have you done for me today?" entities. Gratitude does play a role, just not in salary discussions. Companies express gratitude through bonuses.

3. Suggest your company hire an assistant.

Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that, in the wrong mindset, this is a crass bargaining ploy, a device. Mark and Mike are straight-shooters, I'm a straight-shooter, and I'm going into this assuming that everyone here is a straight-shooter.

If you are in fact working a lot of nights and weekends outside of your job description, then you've effectively given yourself a 20% pay cut. I'm not suggesting we all sprint from our desks at 5PM sharp, but it's not a good idea to donate nights and weekends to your company. Ask if your company would consider hiring an assistant to shoulder the IT burden. Or, if you really like the IT stuff and want to move in that direction, ask if your company would consider hiring an assistant to take over some of your regular duties. Stress that you are proud of the work you've done in both roles, that you are always happy to help the team, but that the extra functions and work are cutting into your family life. You would be happy to help train the new person. Now, only suggest those things if your boss is open to input from you regarding personnel. And for Pete's sake only suggest those things if you are indeed willing to live with the consequences of your employer doing exactly as you suggest (which would reduce your extra-curricular hours). But I think it's also possible that your company will realize they've been freeloading on your overtime efforts. Faced with the possibility of adding another person to the payroll, your company might see the economic benefit of moving you to a higher-value role.


 *Fear is a loaded word; but the microeconomic term "enlightened self-interest" is cumbersome.

kefka95's picture

Thank you all for the good advice.  After giving it some thought, I think that approaching it from the "job role/description" angle is definitely the way to go.  I've also given some thought to the "fear" aspect of it, which I think strongly applies in my case, although I'm not sure how to bring it up in a subtle manner.

I sometimes end up doing small projects for other areas, and my boss will often half-jokingly make a comment to the other area's manager to the effect of "Remember who he works for!" or "Don't even think about trying to steal him away!".  He always says this in my presence, and I know he intends it as a compliment, but the fact that he would even jokingly say something like that leads me to believe that they've at least considered the possibility that there are other places, even within our company, that would be happy to have someone like me.

Anyway, I'll probably try to bring it up at some point this week.  The worst that can happen is that nothing will change, and if nothing else it may push me to begin looking for other opportunities (certainly not a bad thing!).