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  Salary Talk: How long until my next raise?
Salary Talk
How much does your company expect of you? If you're expected to do an excellent job, it can be very difficult to exceed expectations. But if your company's median raise is high enough, excellence may well be par for the course.
How long until my next raise?

Q. My annual performance evaluation was conducted in February. My position was newly created, and no salary survey was conducted. I moved into this position from an unrelated one within the same company. I've surpassed all of the job duties in my job description, and have often been recognized for my excellence. I received a 10 percent bonus at my evaluation, which I expected. The median raise throughout the company was 7 percent.

Since then, I've taken on more responsibilities, worked extra hours at home (without charging overtime) and discovered that a male counterpart (performing at half of my rate) is making $8,000 more than I am. I've researched my position and discovered that I am earning at least that much less than the median. I am putting together a pamphlet, describing what I've accomplished and will include printouts of my salary survey results. How long shall I wait to present this to my employer? It's been four months since my last rate increase.

A. Before we can address the disparity in pay, we need to clarify two things.

First, did you receive a performance plan? A performance plan spells out the objectives and expectations of the job. You may be doing an excellent job, but you may have been expected to do an excellent job. The job description only tells you what tasks you have to do. It doesn't measure whether you do them well, nor does it spell out the criteria and the rewards for meeting expectations.

Since you got a bonus, chances are that, informally or formally, some expectation was noted somewhere. Ask the human resources department about it. Discuss the overall objectives and expectations of the position with your manager. Your manager needs to know you are aware of the expectations and have the resources to achieve them. It is unfair for a manager to set expectations and not communicate them to you.

The second point to clarify pertains to your coworker. His compensation is based on the skills and experience he brings to the job, and on his performance, which may or may not be related to the number of hours he works.

But if the company is underpaying you, it has nothing to do with whether they're overpaying a coworker. It has to do with your skills, your competency, and your performance. If you are underpaid, my advice is to spend your energy working on ways to adjust your own pay, either inside or outside the company.

Now, should you wait until August? If you weren't given a performance plan at the time you started the position, it doesn't matter when your next performance review is. You need to understand the objectives regardless. Meet with your manager as soon as you can.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

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