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Playing the Waiting Game for a salary review

Text and color graphic layout by Franke James, MFA.; source: fisheye woman with calendar ©istockphoto.com/Sharon Dominick

Dear Office-Politics,

Eight months ago my Manager said she would reassess my salary in six months time (said it was even written into her calendar).

Three weeks ago one of my co-workers left our department. (We are down to four and won’t have a replacement for at least a month). Someone else in my department might leave next week (90% sure) — so we will be down to three.

It is well past six months now – the salary reassessment topic has not been brought up.

Do I —

a) Bring it up this week?
b) Bring it up next week after another co-worker quits?
c) Don’t bring it up at all?


Waiting Game

franke james

Dear Waiting Game,

Tongue-in-cheek news alert: “Bosses are human. And they are not perfect”.

Remembering that basic truth, let’s see how we can find the right moment to encourage your Boss to think about you and your needs. You were wise to step back and think about how and when to broach the subject. The last thing you want to do is appear whiney, or demanding, especially when she is under significant pressure, being squeezed from all sides.

Put yourself in her shoes:
As the Head of a Company Department, the executives higher up depend on your Boss to hit certain performance markers, or she’ll be the one given a pink slip. If employees are leaving, then she has a smaller team to work with. Meeting her deliverables just got a lot harder. Consequently you and your well-trained co-workers become even more important to her survival.

Think back to her comment eight months ago. She promised to review your salary in six months time. But since then, the departure of your colleague has thrown a wrench into her plans.

Timing your request for a raise to coincide with another co-workers sudden departure will seem opportunistic. While you anticipate that they will quit, they may not. You have little or no control in that event. But you do have control as to when you present your case for a raise.

Most people hate surprises
Most people hate ‘surprises’, and Bosses are no different. I suggest you book an appointment ASAP with her to review your performance. In this way she will have an opportunity in advance to prepare. You may not get the meeting for a week or two, but at least your review won’t appear to be timed to profit from an unfortunate event that weakens her department.

By the way, she may not remember that she promised to review your raise! To you it was of critical importance, but to her it might be just another demand, in an endless string of demands from employees.

Nevertheless, a performance review is the perfect time to talk about a raise. Do your homework before meeting with her. Have a list of proactive and concrete things that you can do to help the department grow and flourish (and some examples of how you’ve excelled already). You want to remind her that you are, or can be, an important part of the team — that she can depend on you — and that you can help relieve some of the pressure she’s feeling. You can be an important part of the department’s, and hence, your Boss’ success.

Good luck! Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.


Franke James, MFA
Editor & Founder, Office-Politics.com
Inventor, The Office-Politics® Game


Franke James, MFA is the Editor & Founder of Office-Politics.com. She is also the Inventor of The Office-Politics® Game a dilemma-based social game that teaches you how to play, and laugh, at office politics. It’s used by HR departments, and corporate trainers worldwide. The Office-Politics Dilemmas have been inspired by the hundreds of letters submitted to Office-Politics.com.

Publication note: This letter was originally published in 2004. We are republishing the best letters from Office-Politics and integrating them with our blog format.

  1. 2 Answers to “Playing the Waiting Game for a salary review”

  2. Follow-up reply from Waiting Game:

    “Thank you so much for the reply. I wasn’t expecting something this thorough. I truly appreciate you taking the time to give me such a well thought out answer.”

    By Letter writer on May 3, 2008

  3. I was promised a 5% raise… waited and waited for it to reflect in my paycheck… after 5 months I email my boss. He replied with some sort of put off… ‘checking on the details. will get back to you”

    2 more months go by (I get paid montly) and finally see a little increase… only 2%. Do I confront him for an explanation? Go to HR directly and explain my case? Go above him and complain? Ignore it and be happy I have a job iin this economy everyone says is so bad?

    I excel at my position and more than exceed my projections. Go above and beyond and during my review I was told that my review score was extremely high and ‘Rare to get such a score”


    By robert wood on Jun 12, 2009

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