Sunday, May 11, 2008

On Work, and Why People Suck (part 2)

In spite of the salary freeze, I attempted to negotiate a pay increase to a Webmaster’s salary anyway. (This, I don’t regret. Nothing is hurt by asking. What I do regret is the person I had to deal with.)

When I began negotiations with the President of my company, I started by pointing to the value I bring to the company. In truth, I'm uniquely positioned. It really would take 2 people to replace me, because I have both product knowledge that is somewhat specialized, and the web knowledge (HTML, XHTML, and CSS) this company needs. I pointed to the value I bring, pointing out that the whole of the company's internet image (5 separate websites) comes out of my computer.

I asked for what I specifically said was not a cost of living increase, but an increase to reflect the duties and responsibilities I have been doing for the company. The President of the company (who is so technologically challenged it’s ridiculous) informed me in no uncertain terms that the company doesn’t need a Webmaster. And also, “I’m sorry if I was laughing and smirking while we were talking about the title, but until two weeks ago I had never heard of Webmaster. All I can think about is Dungeons and Dragons.”

Peoples of the interwebs, I kid you not, that is a direct quote. The man had never heard of a Webmaster before a month ago.

Huh? What? You’re going to give me a title, but because you don’t understand how the internet works you think it's nothing more than an empty title? And now you’re going to change my job description to Marketing Associate / Webmaster, but you’re not going to pay me to do two jobs?

Furious, trying (and failing) not to cry from frustration, I said I would discuss further with my manager other options instead of increased compensation, like reimbursement for classes, etc. President proceeded to tell me how he's so happy that people stay with this company. That unfortunately companies have to freeze salaries sometimes, but that he's proud of the loyalty people have to this company. He told me about one of the workers in the warehouse, who is the company's very first employee, and how that man is compensated far above what a warehouse packer should be, but he (the president) was not about to fire him and hire some kid who could be paid minimum wage, because that wouldn't be right.

I said I was disappointed, and that I would consider what the President said about the salary freeze, and decide whether or not I wanted to accept his title while gaining no additional compensation to match my responsibilities. I would decide whether or not to continue doing the website updating, etc., which I have been doing for the last year.

So, apparently that touched a nerve, because he told me he didn’t appreciate "having a gun held to his head," and he hopes I can be professional, and he’s sorry if I feel the need to leave and find another company, but he hoped if I did I would be professional and give them notice.

Uh huh. Right. We went from, “you can have a title, but the company doesn’t need a webmaster” and "we're so proud of our people we wouldn't consider laying someone off just to save costs" to “don’t you dare stop doing what you’re doing on a daily basis, because nobody else here can do it” and "if you need to leave, go ahead, but you're not getting money out of me."

Yeah, I feel the love around here.

As it stands now, I don’t have a pay increase. And, because my direct manager had a family emergency, I’m still doing Webmaster duties, with no pay increase in sight.

Why am I doing this? I feel bad for my manager. It’s not his fault the President doesn’t know how to do anything the least bit related to technology and computers. Plus, he is a good manager, and it is a legitimate family emergency. His infant son has been hospitalized off an on for most of a month. I'm trying to be patient. It’s just that meanwhile, my title, and my career with this company, are still up in the air.

And so, I am taking this whole scenario as a lesson. Don’t wait to ask for the money, because when you’re stupidly expecting everything to take care of itself, crap like salary freezes happen.

I'm also polishing my resume and starting the job hunt. I can't work for a President who is a so unwilling to negotiate that he's willing to hurt his company, and let talent go.

1 comment:

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