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Part I: VP caught in salary trap

Dear Office Politics,

Your site is great! I’m just entering the corporate world and had no idea there would be so much politics involved in working for a large corporation (45,000 employees roughly). I’ve been struggling with an issue for quite some time, and have had mixed responses when trying to seek advice from my peers and mentors.

I’ve entered this company at a senior level (Assistant Vice President) and started with a salary that pays very well. I also happen to be 20 years old. Not knowing the political game, when a fellow “equivalent” co-worker asked me how much my salary was (after telling me his salary as well), I hesitated and told him.

Now pretty much the entire company knows, and this individual actually went straight to my boss (CIO) to complain that I made too much money. Additionally, he is now trying to put together business plans to get me to work under him, and he speaks with executives on my behalf and totally invents things (i.e. he says I am not happy at my job, that I do not have the experience to manage people etc)

I’m not too concerned about losing my job – I know the executives support me as they have been telling me what he has been doing, and they went to great extents to recruit me from my previous company. They also assure me that I need not worry about what he’s doing as nothing he puts together will get past them. My main issue with all of this is having to be “fake” around him – and pretend I don’t know what he’s doing.

Additionally, there is a lot of tension amongst my peers because they are jealous/envious of my salary & position, especially seeing I am usually 10-20 years younger than most of my peers. I feel like I am up against an army of soldiers and the rest of my time with this company will be a battle.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Young Vice President

christine comaford-lynch

Dear Young Vice President,

Now you know what the expression “loose lips sink ships” means. You made a mistake by revealing your salary, and now you’re being attacked.

Lesson #1: don’t discuss money at work. Ok, you can say “I got this burrito for $3 and it’s delicious!” But beyond lunch deals, avoid discussing dollars. People get weird around money, religion, politics, sex. Don’t discuss any of these topics at work.

I understand your desire to bond with your co-workers, but if you’re on the executive path, you must bond lightly. You aren’t one of the gang here. Join a networking group like www.BNI.com or form a mastermind group (see the worksheet in the Cool Resources section of www.RulesForRenegades.com) –this is where you’ll find the camaraderie you seek. You’re either a worker or an executive. You’ve chosen the latter–and management has too. Now it’s time to be polite and warm, but not reveal much about yourself. You’re going to be a perpetual target if you do.

Instead excel at your job, identify the other high achievers, and help them rise up in the organization. In time, a fresh gossip topic will arise, and your salary will be old news. Start noticing what is terrific about your co-workers and let them know. Appreciate someone sincerely every day, whether over email, in person, over the phone. Be sincere. They’ll join your side if another battle erupts.

Thanks for writing to Office Politics.

Best regards,

Christine Comaford-Lynch, Author, Rules for Renegades

cover of Rules for RenegadesNew York Times bestselling author Christine Comaford-Lynch is CEO of Mighty Ventures, an innovation accelerator which helps businesses to massively increase sales, product offerings, and company value. She has built and sold 5 of her own businesses with an average 700% return on investment, served as a board director or in-the-trenches adviser to 36 startups, and has invested in over 200 startups as a venture capitalist or angel investor. Christine has consulted to the White House (Clinton and Bush), 700 of the Fortune 1000, and hundreds of small businesses. She has repeatedly identified and championed key trends and technologies years before market acceptance. Christine’s popular column on www.BusinessWeek.com/SmallBiz launched in January 2007.Christine has led many lives: Buddhist monk, Microsoft engineer, geisha trainee, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. Her triumphs and disasters are revealed in her New York Times (and USA Today, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Amazon.com ) bestselling business book: Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality. The book is available at all major retailers, the Office-Politics bookstore, or via www.RulesForRenegades.com.Christine has appeared on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, FOX Business Network, PBS, CNET and is frequently quoted in the business, technology and general press at large. Stanford Graduate School of Business has done two case studies on her and PBS has featured her in three specials (Triumph of the Nerds, Nerds 2.0.1, and Nerd TV ). CNET has broadcast two specials covering her unconventional rise to success as a woman with neither a high school diploma nor college degree. Christine believes we can do well and do good, using business as a path for personal development, wealth creation, and philanthropy.

(Video bio at: http://www.mightyventures.com/bio.php )

  1. 2 Answers to “Part I: VP caught in salary trap”

  2. Excellent comments on my issue. I really appreciated the new networks they pointed me to, didn’t realize such communities existed on the web. Also great that two Advisers decided to take on my case!

    The turmoil has settled down significantly since I first wrote in. I’m not too sure what happened, but I think one of the senior executives here stepped in and really let “Mike” have it. I’m not too sure, but all of the sudden he started to show me some real respect.

    Really appreciate your comments, your Office-Politics blog is such a great idea. I especially enjoy this personal touch. Keep up the great work!

    By Letter writer on Jan 28, 2008

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