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Your Office Coach

Keep a careful eye on “responsibility creep”

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Q: “Whenever I mention a raise to my boss, he tells me that I am already the highest paid production manager in the company. I’m tempted to reply that I work harder than the other production managers, but that would probably not be wise.

“Recently, I helped to consolidate several production facilities from different states, which saved the company a great deal of money. When I asked if this might justify a pay increase, my boss replied that the project was considered to be part of my regular job.

“In fact, my ‘regular job’ is production manager for this facility, but over the years I have been asked to take on more and more tasks related to other functions and other properties. If I am routinely required to go above and beyond my job description, shouldn’t there be some financial reward?” Underpaid

A: You may have become an unwitting victim of “responsibility creep.” This happens when a capable employee assumes an increasing number of additional duties, thereby causing the original job to gradually morph into a more complex position. Compensation remains unchanged, however, because no official promotion has occurred.

If your responsibilities have expanded considerably, perhaps your position needs to be reclassified, which is compensation-speak for moving to a higher pay grade. Reclassification is based not on employee performance, but on a permanent change in the requirements of the job.

Although your manager may need to support this move, he is unlikely to be the final decision-maker. To promote fairness and equity, virtually all large organizations have specific reclassification guidelines which are administered by the human resources department. At this point, therefore, the HR manager should be your most helpful advisor.

If a reclassification appears unwarranted, then you’re back to asking for a pay adjustment. Since your boss recently nixed this request, don’t aggravate him by repeating it now. Instead, bide your time, do your homework, and prepare a solid, fact-based case to present at the appropriate moment.

Should your manager continue to resist a raise, explore the possibility of a bonus. Companies are frequently more generous with one-time incentives, because they don’t permanently increase the salary budget.

If you're considering asking for a pay increase, here are some tips that may help: How to Ask for a Raise.

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