When Other People Get Promoted

My friend who works below me at my office was recently promoted, and now has the same title and salary as I do. However, my friend’s responsibilities haven’t changed, and since I have significantly more work and often delegate to her, I feel it’s unfair for the company to treat us the same. Is this something I can, or should, bring up? She absolutely deserves the promotion, and I don’t want to seem like I begrudge her success. I also think I may be making too much of a big deal about this because I’m thinking about leaving my job in a few months anyway. — Anonymous

I think it can be really easy to get caught up with what’s happening to other people in the workplace, and, unless you’re in a position of power, it’s good to remember that you have no control over what happens to other people’s careers.

It is easy to wonder, why her? Why not me? This can quickly consume your thoughts in a way that can be really unhealthy—especially if this is someone you consider a friend. Your friend had the good fortune of getting a promotion and a raise, and the only thing you can do is be happy for her.

What you do have control over is your own career. Your concerns about your own salary and title are perfectly valid. At my old job, I was asked to take on more responsibilities after my managing editor left to go work for another news organization. Before she left, she asked me if I was getting a raise, and I told her, yes, that was part of the deal, and she asked me what my title was going to be, and I told her I hadn’t actually thought about that, and that I didn’t really care about having a new title as much as I did about receiving a bigger salary.

We were walking to lunch, and she stopped and turned around and said, “Titles do matter, Mike, and if you’re doing more, your title should match your responsibilities. You are a young person with many years ahead of you, and you won’t have this job for the rest of your life. You will go on to work for other places, and you will tell future employers that you were paid X amount of dollars, and that your title was Y because you had Z responsibilities, and that will show other companies how valued you were by previous employers. If you are going to get something, make sure you’re getting something that you deserve.”

So, Anonymous, go get a better title. If you are doing a job of someone with a better title, you should have that title, regardless of the fact that you may be planning on leaving in a few months. I’m not sure what your relationship with your bosses are, but I hope it’s one where you can be open about your feelings. Set up a meeting, go in, and be prepared. Have a list of of all your responsibilities, and be prepared to defend yourself. Remember that a title is basically a thing they can give to you that won’t cost them anything (unless you’re planning on asking for a raise as well). And if you’re given a negative response, make sure that negative response is backed up by good reasons. If anything, feel good about fighting for yourself.



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