Why increments are never enough!

9 Jun , 2015  

Is it possible for organizations to give us the kind of increments you and I would love to receive?  Ironically, it always seems that others seem to get it?  Or is that we tend to play “victim” by believing that everyone else (except us!) gets the better deal all the time when it comes to pay raise?

How many times throughout your career have you received an increment that made your knees go weak; forcing you to go down on all fours and thank God for the blessings? Frankly, I can literally sense you “not appreciating”’ my wicked sense of humor!  On the contrary, I know there were countless increment incidences which made your skin crawl and your blood pressure to shoot off the chart, right?

Have you come across co-workers who actually tell you that they are happy with their increments? Yes, there might be those few and far in-between who were sincerely grateful for the hikes they received. However, a large number of us seem to be more miserable than not with the kinds of salary increments we get; openly disclosing the mere pittance of a hike we received with much grouse; and make a full length Bollywood movie of it despite fully well knowing that the increment we received was that much closer to reality than to our fantasy! 🙂

Please do not for a second think that I’m not with you on this. Oh no! I sound like a disgruntled employee if I say that as I once used to work in a company where increments were dished out every 6 months (folks, this was once upon a time; I’m unquestionably truthful; and yes, the company was run by a bunch of crazy people!) and despite this, there was an equal number of dissatisfied employees as there were cheerful ones. Even if there were people who were happy, I rarely bumped into them so either I was looking for people who looked similar to my mirror or my colleagues were trying to be nice to me by posing as equally unhappy! I am glad recession came eventually which on retrospect allows us to appreciate the good times 🙂

I can’t help but speak of the aftermath of increments along the same spicy lines of Bollywood movies. Some of my personal favourites are these:

  • One of my direct reports (DR) refused to collect her increment letter saying that the pay raise was way below what she had expected.  She asked, “Didn’t I tell you what I expected? You would need to match it for me to accept the letter!” To cut a long story short, she worked for me for another 3 years after the episode. (No, I did not “kow tow” to her demand and felt sadistically happy about my stance being vindicated!
  • Then there was a manager who was ecstatic with the raise he received, he promptly said “I was expecting a 15% increment and I got 30%!” He bit his tongue soon after as from the next year and beyond, he kept saying he was grossly underpaid! (Lesson to be learnt here – never show you are happy?)
  • One of my colleagues collected her increment letter; thanked me; and happily walked away only to return a couple of hours later to loudly complain that her raise was much less than her peer in another department (hmm…confidentiality is an eternal myth in organizations!)
  • And who can forget managers who stage a show on how they fought “tooth and nail” with our super-bosses to get us our increments only for us to be receive paltry salary hikes!  (it’s as if we did not deserve the raise in the first place!)
  • And finally, there was this incident during which time I told my boss that I was expecting a 50% raise as I was company’s top sales performer. I was given only 30% but not before him telling me that my salary is on par with my market value and my performance will get me the bonuses. Soon after, he sent me on an overseas assignment to avoid my nagging for good!

In retrospect, I blame my Father for the misery I dole out to my bosses on my increments or rather, the lack of good increments. My Father was always been critical of my academic and extra curriculum achievements from school right up to college. He would always say that my ranks/marks were not good enough; my handwriting was shoddy; I was not doing as well as I should in sports and debates; and the list of criticism went on and on. And so I grew up with the notion of falling short and not having “enough”. I guess I’m yet to get over this “hopelessness” and that it is etched in my DNA; and the feeling of inadequacy comes in the way of me enjoying my increments (irrespective of how incremental these were)!

Today, after some 15 plus increments in 20 years, I somewhat know what to expect during increments; sometimes it would be a couple of digits off, at worse. But yet the “dil mange more” mindset of mine refuses to change. Somebody once told me that by showing your unhappiness, you sort of set the right expectations for the next increment with your supervisor 🙂

So you see, when I receive unfavourable “hikes”, I blame my upbringing…what’s your excuse?

Every time my bosses show me the greener side of increments, I turn around to show them the thumbs down to remind them of the sun that I’m standing under!

Every time my bosses show me the greener side of increments, I turn around to show them the thumbs down to remind them of the sun that I’m standing under!

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