I work for a very large national and international bank. I am a big proponent of all things business and corporate but this week I had a bit of a commie-like reaction to what I heard. A while back my manager told me that my new direct report had been in fact making more money than I had. That same week, a far more junior person was joining the team and she too was making as much as me. Both came from outside, at allegedly market rates, and I was being rewarded for my 8 years of loyalty to the company. Interestingly, I didn’t dwell on these unpleasant news, partly due to my manager’s assurance that it should all be taken care of, and soon, fully recognizing that it was as absurd as it gets.

3 months later, i.e. now, rolls in the mid year review. A mid point in the year, that serves a somewhat vague purpose of “correcting the course and checking the pulse”. So with all these corrections and pulse taking I could only focus on the matter at hand- where is the bloody justice??? It made my pulse beat faster if anything, which theoretically should’ve made my employers ecstatic, since I was so persuasively upbeat. 

And then comes the big day. I’m not one of those morons that bought a boat with the money that hadn’t been paid yet. Nevertheless, I’m thinking, my manager told me he would take care of this. In fact, he brought it up a couple of times without any prompt from me. So I’m going into a review meeting, not 100% convinced that things would get resolved but at least having some kind of hope that they might. So the review goes well, the manager highlights what a champ I am, proactive and delightfully genuine in my quest for the team’s success. How well I manage my team, especially the intern that I practically had to fire (who we didn’t even get to hire or meet beforehand because he was assigned to us through some internship program). Then he totally stuns me with a rating he came up with, the rating that apparently the senior management unanimously agreed to – Exceed Expectations! The highest of them all.  The holy grail of corporate performance. The magic E. So I’m like all smiles, and thinking oh yeah, it’s going well. Happy to oblige. Where do I sign up for the next hundred projects?

And then, sort of casually, but sternly, he tells me that raises are tough in the mid year, the company is aggressively cutting costs, last quarter’s results didn’t make Wall Street analysts too happy, and share price is kind of stagnating. That he did his best, and begged and pleaded, and built a whole case for me but, despite all that and more, I would not be getting a raise this time. Most likely at year end but he can’t promise me anything. On top of that, the company is flattening its structure and they will be doing two more things to make things better and improve employee satisfaction: removing redundant levels and standardizing job titles. As a result I’m going to become a single contributor, lose Senior in my job title and keep staring in the eyes of my former employee who makes more than me, has less experience and has a long way to go in what we do. So I’m effectively demoted, stripped off of the opportunity to grow into a leadership role, and kind of losing money to inflation. But who really cares about any of that when your rating is Exceed Expectations?

I know all this sounds familiar and there are millions of corporate schmucks out there that experience the same kind of treatment every day. That, however, doesn’t change the fact in my own mind that there is a definitive course of action cut out for me. Sadly it can only guide me towards another craporation where it’s only a matter of time before I face another example of absurdity, bad management and plain injustice.