Bing Blog

Update on Otto: How to get that raise, Part 2


I thought I would let you know that Otto, whose reprehensible hold-up of corporate resources I told you about last week, got pretty much everything he was looking for. As you recall, Otto is a good employee whose job skills and function are not easily replaceable, particularly in Petaluma. He hit his boss up for a massive raise, which produced two reactions: the desire to give the fellow what he wanted, and the desire to kill him. It also made the boss consider something he had never contemplated before -- life without Otto. After due consideration, his superiors decided that as galling as it was to grant Otto's requests, it was even more odious to have to find his replacement. So after a little dickering, Otto achieved just about everything he had been seeking. And life goes on at the corporation, even in Petaluma.

This little lesson shows us several things:

1. When your bosses tell you that there are no raises right now, they are lying. There are raises, if you make them give you one.

2. If you want something bad enough and are willing to piss everybody off in order to get it, you may actually get it.

3. If you do go for it, you'd better have an accurate assessment of your worth.

4. Non-fungible people are worth more than fungible ones.

5. You'd better goddamn well express appropriate gratitude afterwards.

You'd be amazed how many people don't. I gave a person a raise once that brought them over the $100,000 mark. When I told her, she took it in and then said, "Thanks. I realize that's probably the best you can do right now." Can you believe that?

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Raw meat before the lioness.

Her response demonstrates the kind of drive that made her worthy of the raise.

It also encapsulates a successful negotiation. No one leaves the table completely satisfied.

Yeah, Paul! But a thank you would have been nice!

In my first job as a contractor I was able to negotiate a 10% raise. My boss had no problem with it -- I was performing WAY above my job description.

A couple of months later, when the annual raises were announced, I found my co-workers were getting 7% raises, and I was getting zip.

I found out my job shop had not asked for my annual raise. My boss had not been aware I'd been excluded. He said he would have had no problem granting me the extra money, but the deal was done and he couldn't change it.

Not long after I left for a permanent position elsewhere. I might not have looked for another job if I hadn't been stiffed.

The take-away? A win today doesn't mean you'll be ahead long-term.

Also, if you want to keep good people, don't kick them in the teeth.

Good article Bing. Now, on expressing gratitude, do not expect too much, you now that our bosses will always try to pay us the less amount they can get away with. You and I try to do the same to the people we supervise, you know it. It is just a business transaction, it's the 2000's not the 50's!!!

Stan, I realize that there has to be more to the raise story than that you got her over the six figure hump. A whole host of questions would help determine whether that was a really great raise, or whether it was really a kick in the teeth.

Were her peers already making well into six figures? Was she already making $99,900? What would "appropriate" gratitude look like in that scenario?

She did say "thanks", but apparently not effusively enough to meet your expectations. You might want to look at it from the point of view of her expectations, and note whether her expectations were reasonable.

Steve, it was a very good raise. And it took me a lot to get it for her. I think that no matter what your expectations are, if your boss gives you something greater than the norm, you say thanks. That doesn't mean you don't come back in 6 months to whine a little, but at the time? Come on. It's just good human politics.

a job or a person isn't worth a dam until they are gone..then they take on true meaning.


Absolutely. I was not justifying her response merely offering an explanation.

I've always felt you can be hard driving and polite at the same time. We do, however, seem to be living in the age of mutual exclusivity. Much the pity.

Go back and read Jack's comment. He has the answer.

Our company had a guy named John. He was the 'fair haired child' who had the future in his hands. But, like Otto, John wanted more. He left our division for another job.

Did we collapse? No. They gave John's job to me. We simply stopped doing things John's way, and started doing things my way. Within two months no one could tell John had ever been there.

If Otto is still working for you, you have no idea what he is worth. If he dies tomorrow, you might be in for a surprise.


$100k doesnt mean what it did when you passed that mark. I don't think in this era it means any more than breaking the 80k mark. For real gratitude you've got
to push someone over $250k.

Bing: Good for her! and probably you are the one who should be, first, apologizing to her and, secondly, thanking her for stick around and be so patient waiting for a raise that, most likely, was long overdue, and, most likely, she makes less than her male colleagues

Were you waiting for her to show you gratitude in another, more effusive and private way..'ya know what I mean....??????

No, Joe. You've clearly polished off more of that six pack than you should have at this hour.

I don't understand you guys. Why are you all making excuses for a person who was ungrateful and rude? You think I don't know the circumstances? You think $100K is a piddling salary? I don't. Could it be possible that you just can't stand the idea that an employee -- rather than a boss -- is a jerk sometimes?

The two types of people who work the hardest are those who believe they are underpaid (because they are trying to advance) and those who believe they are overpaid (because they are trying to justify their compensation to themselves).

Sounds like Otto just jumped from one bucket to the other, which is a good thing for all parties concerned. People who get stuck in the middle gravitate towards punching the clock and protecting their turf instead of generating revenue.

Bing - what were the male counterparts making? In 2009 its hard to imagine but there is still a compensation gap between men and women. Maybe if she was given a raise to $100k - her male co-workers were already making $120k. That may account for her lack of enthusiasm.....


I'm right there with you. By the way all of you deriding the salary- yes, 100k is a pretty darn good chunk of change to most of us out here. If my boss decided to push me over that hump- I would be more than grateful. I get ya- it would be nice to get some appreciation for what you do. I'd imagine, bosses rarely get that appreciation.

Gratitude is one of the most neglected virtues in modern parenting! I'd trade most others away, to be able to completely instill that one in my kids.


Far too many have a sense of entitlement. Just look at the Wall Street brats who drove this country off the biggest cliff since 1929.

The world owes us nothing. If we are granted the opportunity to excel, we then must make the most of it.

But as managers, we are supposed to take rid of the jerks, among others. We are not supposed to suffer them. If she is a jerkette, you should fire her asap! Secondly, no one, absolutely no one, is indispensable. You, me and the rest are 100% expendable; life goes on, ask Jack Welch, Michael Eisner, Carly Fiorina, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, George W, etc. In my experience, "indispensable" workers are the creation of incapable bosses or boards.

As a boss I only expect to meet or exceed the goals of my area and take home the corresponding salary and bonus. I'm not in this business to make friends or feel appreciated nor I care for that. And in my team there is only space for one jerk only and that jerk has to be me, I do not accept competition.

An interesting turn of events, Bing. You write a story about Otto. The last paragraph mentions a woman in a similar situation.

In most of the comments, poor old Otto is completely forgotten and this woman becomes the star of the show.


In the new world nobody really has time to say "Thank you." This is sooo outdated. The norm has become a brief "Thanks," which, by the way, was considered vulgar quite recently.

The new math, that is all (every symbol counts in an e-mail).



I'll take a crack at your last comment. Employees are jackasses all the time. That's why their bosses frequently feel the need for oneupsmanship.

There is absolutely no sense of loyalty to the big C. The corporation uses you like a workout t-shirt and then jettisons you whether you are tattered or not. Nothing personal, Just business, the way the game must be played, but of course those covered with scar tissue take all they can get before the next RIF.

Perhaps, it must be said, although it goes without saying that we're all prostitutes. We're just quibbling about price.

Paul, this is really not about employees and bosses, or even about jackasses. It's about two people. One does something for the other. The other is ungrateful. End of story.

No good deed goes unpunished or, at least, thankless.

I've managed to get many subordinates substantial increases in compensation. A simple thank you is, indeed, nice. I can understand how some burn-out old bosses get to the point that since gratitude is often in short supply it's easier just stop attempting to do the right thing. I've tried to fight that jaded attitude by remembering the people that I did help, that didn't forget, and on occasion, as Bing would say, pulled a thorn or two out of my aged paw.

When you demand a raise, make sure you have a mapquest direction to the local friendly unemployment office.


I understand your qualification and admonision. My perspective was that you were not using this example in a vacuum but as representation of a much larger issue.

Leap of logic withdrawn.

Okay, Bing. I understand that it was a good raise, and that you worked hard to get it for her. $100k is a really nice figure, especially if you happen to be an administrative assistant (not that big a deal if you happen to be a doctor of something or other). You see her as ungrateful. How does she see you? Human politics always goes two ways.

In your words: "It's about two people. One does something for the other. The other is ungrateful. End of story."

Look at it from the employee's angle. She did something for you (apparently something very good, or else why would you work so hard to get her a raise). She acknowledges that you got her a raise (like you acknowledge that she said "thanks"), but doesn't seem to think that the size of the raise is in proportion to the hard work she has done for you (same as her enthusiasm for the raise doesn't seem to you to be in proportion to the work you put in to get her the raise).

Why is she the ungrateful one? Simply because you're the one lucky enough to be telling the story? If the story was told by her, would she paint you as ungrateful of her hard work, since the amount of the raise didn't comport with what she thought she was worth?

A point of view -- everybody has one.

If Otto got a 100% raise, he was obviously underpaid for quite a while. I'm surprised he hadn't jumped ship before. Management is lucky that he just didn't leave without giving them a chance. Good for Otto for finally making management pay up.
Someone in that company needs a wake up call.