My salary compared to my direct reports and employee dissatisfaction with 10% raise


I’ll try to keep this from getting too convoluted but there are a few parts to this post.

I’m a manager at a start-up and manage a sort of product support/customer success & customer training function. I’ve built it from the group up as the very first hire doing anything like this for the company. I make $120,000 which I’m generally not complaining about, HOWEVER, I’m noticing that my direct reports salaries are creeping up pretty close to mine. We just had performance reviews and I haven’t been given any information on what my comp adjustment is, but as it stands at this very moment, one of my direct reports actually has a higher salary than me after his bump. Is that…ever appropriate? How do I get HR to fix this? My manager is currently on leave.

Additionally, I just promoted two people from L2 to L3. They were both given 10% raises as they were really making the absolute max for L2 upon promotion. One of the individuals has come to me to ask for more, saying that they feel their contribution is worth more, and that they are under the impression raises with promotions are 15-20% (this doesn’t seem like a rule of thumb from my experience). I’m going to talk to HR but part of me wonders if I should even be entertaining this, and if, as a manager, I should have just put my foot down. This individual had no market data to back them up. What can I do differently next time? Should I have this employee also talk to HR themselves?

ETA: thanks for all of the thoughts! I have no plans to march in and start a fight with them or make waves, definitely don’t operate that way. It is worth adding that, as it stands right now, the team is L1-L7 and the salary ranges go up with each level. On the team I’m L5 and the folks that report to me are L3 for the most part. With the way the company has us structuring our teams, I should theoretically be making more than at least the folks at the lower levels. Not implying this is the only or right way to structure but it’s what our HR has asked us to do.


May I give you a different perspective?

I work for a company that has 5 managers. One I work directly for. I have no desire to be a manager because I like my job, which is far different than management.

I make more than every manager. I also produce a lot of revenue for my company, managers do not. They help me when I need it. You could replace them and I would still produce.

Managers do not always make more than the people they report to.

Let's say you have four direct reports. How do you motivate them to work when there is no room for all of them to be managers? Money.

Management is a separate career track and skill set, and in many skilled fields, it's not uncommon for there to be individual contributors making more than their direct managers. The idea that management must always make the most money is long outdated. Don't compare your salary to what your reports are making; instead, consider the value you personally bring to the company with your work and what your role is worth on the open market, and if you think that your current salary falls short, then you can try negotiating a raise, or start looking elsewhere if you don't have any success with your current employer.

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