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Ask The Experts: I’m Underpaid And Underappreciated

Feeling trapped in a job that doesn’t pay fairly, and doesn’t appreciate your hard work? Stand up for yourself, or move on.

Ask The Experts: I’m Underpaid And Underappreciated
[Photo: TaxRebate.org.uk]

Speaking up for yourself at work can be nerve racking, and when your boss agrees that you deserve a raise it certainly feels like a win. But what if the raise isn’t what you expected and you still feel undervalued? Can you still fix the situation or is it time to move on. Leadership coach Lolly Daskal answers.

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I’ve been at my job as a production designer for almost a year, and in that time I’ve gone above and beyond the expectations for the position.

When I asked for a raise, I did my research and found that the average salary for my position in the same industry in the same city is nearly double what I was making. I explained this to my boss, along with how much I’ve accomplished, and she agreed. She pushed for my raise and got me a 9% raise instead of the company’s standard 5%.

I’m very grateful, but it’s still disappointing, and I’m still feel like I’m underpaid and underappreciated. When my boss told me about the raise, I thanked her, not realizing that it wasn’t really significant enough. Is there anyway I can bring it up now?

Thanks,

C.


Dear C,

Here we have two different (although obviously related) issues: One, that you did your homework and you asked for what you wanted, but you didn’t get all of what you wanted and you are feeling unappreciated. Two, that you are underpaid.

So first, let’s discuss being underpaid. If you want more money, here are two options:

Look for a new job. See what’s out there; look for an opportunity that comes with more money. (Although remember, you might find a job that pays you the money you want but might not be a good fit in other areas. You also have to take into account how retirement and health benefits are structured.) Do the homework and look at other options. Going somewhere new will not always take care of feeling appreciated, but it may get you the money you are seeking.

Stay where you are at and be very clear about what you want. Let your boss know exactly the amount of money you are seeking to make–and not a penny less–and see what she says. You can offer to accept incremental increases until your salary is in line. But, again, getting the money you deserve may not help you feel more appreciated.

When it comes to appreciation, here are some thoughts:

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Be candid. Talk to your boss and tell her how you feel. Let her know that feedback and acknowledgement are important to you, that they make you feel better about the work that you are doing and give you energy. Maybe suggest a monthly meeting where feedback is given and acknowledgment is expressed for everyone.

Remember that you get what you give. If you want people to act a certain way toward you, start acting that way toward others. Begin by recognizing the accomplishments of your team members and colleagues.

Open the channels of communication. If your boss has no idea what you’re doing all day—the things you’ve struggled with and overcome, the innovations you’ve made—how can she know to acknowledge it? Make sure you’re communicating and that your boss actually knows what you’re working on and where the challenges are.

Start with yourself. Maintaining a good work-life balance can be hard, but never underestimate the importance of giving back to yourself. Give yourself credit where it’s due and find ways to reward yourself with more meaning and happiness in your life.

To your success,

Lolly Daskal

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If you have a dilemma you’d like our experts to answer, send your questions to AskFC@fastcompany.com or tweet a question using #AskFC.

About the author

Lolly Daskal is a Leadership Development and CEO coach and consultant and founder of Lead From Within. Follow @LollyDaskal.

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