Promotion but . . .

I am getting a promotion. I was originally told the raise will come with the annual raises at the end of June. I just got a memo, directed at all employees, saying no annual raises this year. My direct boss doesn’t know if they are going to give me a raise. What do I do?

First off, was this a true promotion, with specific additional responsibilities assigned to you, or simply a general acknowledgement that you’ve continued to show up for work and done an acceptable job? If you have additional responsibilities, and you accepted the promotion based in part on the expectation of specific additional compensation, you’re certainly not being unreasonable to assume that that expectation will be met, whether everyone in the company gets an annual raise or not. I’d say that how you play it depends a lot on your impression of your employer – do they generally deal with people honestly and with integrity, or do they look for every opportunity to take advantage as long as they’re allowed to? If it’s the latter, you won’t escape mistreatment for long, even if you do get a raise now. If you’ve already agreed on a specific raise amount as part of accepting the promotion, with the date of the increase deferred, then I’d make it pretty clear that I expected the company to honor that arrangement. If you accepted the promotion with a vague promise that they’d see about more money for you when annual raises rolled around, then you’re in much worse shape. You’ve already established that you’re willing to take on the additional responsibility without additional compensation, so why should they go out of their way to give you more money?

Except in places where there are fairly strict employer-employee relations laws, or where there as union labor agreement or a specific employment contract, you have to take the attitude that every day you walk into work is an implicit acceptance of the terms on which you worked the day before. As long as you go in and do the work, you’re agreeing to those terms. If you’re not willing to do the work on those terms, or if the company attempts to unilaterally change the terms under which you work (either by an explicit change, or by failing to live up to their obligations), you have the option of declining to continue to work there – never forget that.

In any case, your boss owes you an answer, pronto. The primary responsibility of any manager is to ensure that the people they manage have the things they need to do the job. You need a resolution to this, quickly, in order to be effective; without knowing the terms on which you’re expected to work, you can’t decide whether they’re acceptable to you. It’s his job to provide that resolution. Even in the best companies, things like this happen, but in good companies they’re dealt with in a forthright and honest manner. If that doesn’t happen, you can either look elsewhere, or determine to live with being jerked around.

I am going from managing systems, to managing people and systems. When I agreed to take on the new responsiblities, my supervisor said that of course there will be a raise but did not know how much. This memo was a surprise to him. I know he immediately sent an email to his supervisor and has not received a response.