I was promised a pay rise but nothing has happened. What should I do?

I was promised a pay rise but nothing has happened. What should I do?

07/05/2022

Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute?” This week, following up a remuneration promise, choosing a career path and what to do if you’ve been ghosted by a colleague.

Two months ago, following a discussion with the CEO, my manager told me I am deserving of an almost 20 per cent pay increase. I wasn’t expecting one, but appreciated the acknowledgment and am excited to pay for things a bit more comfortably. However, I haven’t heard anything since. Now knowing what they think I’m worth, I’m confused on when I should follow it up. It’s not in writing, so if or when I do get a pay rise and it’s less than previously mentioned, do I have a leg to stand on to request an increase?

Bosses should be careful before promising pay rises they can’t deliver.Credit:Fairfax Media

You should definitely speak to your manager and gently remind them of the conversation you had. Don’t just raise the matter casually when you next see them, but ask for a meeting to catch up specifically. In that meeting, ask what steps need to happen for your salary review to begin. I would reinforce how much you enjoy working in the role, talk about all the ways you add value, and thank them for their generosity in recognising your contributions.

That said, my gut feel is you also need to be prepared for your manager to admit they spoke up without all the necessary information and now need to review with HR or others before making the change. Your manager probably already realises they have raised your expectations. Given the offer was not in writing, no, you don’t have a leg to stand on but it is irresponsible for any manager to throw around remuneration promises. Have a meeting with your manager as soon as you can and see how you go. Good luck!

I am 20 years old and am finding it quite difficult to choose a career path. I have experience in trades such as electrical and butchering, but I did not enjoy them. Do you have any advice on how to find a career path to follow and the best way to start? I’ve taken a look into university courses for the past few months and nothing seems to stand out for me.

This is a tough question to answer because only you really know what you enjoy doing or how you might like to spend your time. Perhaps an easier way for you to approach this is not to think of your career path as a ‘rest of your life’ decision. That can feel like a long time when you are 20.

The good news is careers are never linear and what you choose to do in six months does not need to be what you are doing in six years. There is no way, at 20 years old, I could have imagined or even understood the career path I would find myself on. Is there a short course that sparks your interest? Is there a university open day you might like to check out? Do you have a friend in a job you think sounds interesting? Is there an apprenticeship with an amazing company you think could be worth giving a go? There are no right answers, but what I do know is if you try a range of different things, you are likely to stumble across the right thing for you.

I am wondering what to do when you have been ghosted by a colleague? I am a scientist and recently changed academic institutions. I had been working on a scientific paper with a former colleague (and two others) but she is now not replying to emails, calls or messages. We had worked together for more than 10 years and I thought of her as a friend so the “radio silence” is very out of character. What should I do?

Being ghosted by anyone – a colleague, friend or, as in your case, both – is tough. Make sure you are taking care of yourself through this. Also remember that this is not about you, but about them. Everyone has things going on in their lives so there could be any number of reasons why she has withdrawn.

It sounds like she would know you are trying to reach out and so any more chasing is going to be unhelpful. Practically, as there are others working on the paper with you both, can they find out if she is still interested in being part of your team? If not, and if you continue not to hear anything, I suspect you may need to try and move on and press ahead with the paper without her and wait for her to feel able to come back to you, if or when she might be ready.

Send your questions about work, careers and leadership to contact@kirstinferguson.com. Your name and any identifying information will not be used. Letters may be edited.

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is a non-executive director, author and regular columnist. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the QUT Business School and former Deputy Chair of the ABC.

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