YOUR OFFICE COACH: Cowardly boss? Maybe, maybe not
Question: I recently learned that my manager may be planning to replace me. I work for an art museum and am very active in my professional association. A fellow member called to inquire about an opening here after he saw an ad on the association ...
Question: I recently learned that my manager may be planning to replace me. I work for an art museum and am very active in my professional association. A fellow member called to inquire about an opening here after he saw an ad on the association Web site. I told him that I wasn't aware of any vacancies, but when I looked up the ad, I essentially found my own job description under a different title. The address for responding is our museum.
Although no one has mentioned any problems with my performance, I am apparently in danger of being fired. I can't believe my boss thought I wouldn't find out about this. Should I talk to him? Or should I just apply for my own job?
Answer: Either this is a misunderstanding or your boss is a coward. A competent manager would address performance concerns directly instead of conducting a clandestine search.
Before you jump to any firm conclusions, however, give him a chance to explain. You never know what's going on behind the scenes. Management might be creating a new position, or a reorganization could be in the works.
On the other hand, if your job is indeed up for grabs, your boss owes you an explanation. A direct inquiry will force him to come clean and give you a chance to negotiate the terms of your departure. Although the idea of responding to the ad yourself has an appealing touch of irony, a more straightforward approach will allow you to clarify the situation immediately.
Q: When I was hired six months ago, I tried to negotiate my salary. My manager said pay was not negotiable, but I have since learned that this is not true.
Recently, another person was offered the same position and initially turned it down. I know for a fact that human resources negotiated her pay, which is now $2 per hour more than mine.
I don't know her qualifications, but that shouldn't matter, because the boss said everyone starts at the same salary. What can I do about this?
A: If you don't know her qualifications, then you are missing critical information. Almost every job has a range of starting salaries, and applicants with more knowledge or experience will have greater leverage in negotiating.
Your boss may have made an unwise comment, or perhaps you missed his exact meaning. To get accurate information, talk to your human resources manager without mentioning your well-paid colleague.
For example: "When I was hired, I understood that everyone in this position started at the same pay level. That doesn't seem to be the case, so could you explain how starting salaries are actually determined?"
Then, if you still feel underpaid, ask how you can qualify for a raise.
Trying to improve your own pay will be more productive than continuing to fume about your co-worker's compensation.