Cody asks: I have been working at the same place for the last three years. I have yet to receive any pay increase despite a stellar record and a lot of praise from people around me. I have been given an employee excellence award twice during this time. Despite all this, my boss seems to have issues with me. Not sure how to deal with this. I have asked for a raise twice and both times I was told by my boss that s/he would set up a meeting with me to discuss only to have nothing happen. My company very much frowns upon going around or over your direct supervisor and we don’t do reviews at all let alone a 360 review where I could bring some of this to the surface.  Advice?

Tawny Lees, COO of Mariposa responds:

Hi Cody. This is a tough and yet common challenge! From what you’ve described, I’d guess that your boss does have issues but isn’t comfortable giving you direct feedback. Assuming you plan to stay with the company, it seems you have three choices:

  1. Try discussing with your boss again, with a different approach
  2. Go to your boss’s boss, HR or another trusted person who may be able to help resolve
  3. Live with it

I suggest you try the direct boss route at least one more time and then go to someone else for help.

Some tips for the conversation with your boss:

  • Request a meeting with a clear intent of discussing how your boss views your performance, not your pay.
  • Provide an agenda and/or specific questions. i.e. What does s/he see as your strengths, accomplishments, areas for development? How can you continue to grow within the company?
  • Be prepared – gather your thoughts about the answers to these questions, including your areas for development. Think about this situation from your boss’s point of view so that you can approach the conversation with empathy.
  • In the meeting, establish rapport, be very direct about wanting specific feedback, and be very open to hearing it.
  • S/he might say some difficult things to hear and you need to be ready to listen, ask open questions, acknowledge any areas of improvement/development needed, and discuss ways to get better.
  • Depending on the flow of the conversation, you can decide if asking about pay is appropriate, or perhaps better for a follow-up conversation.

If after a conversation or two you don’t feel like you’re getting the direct feedback or guidance you need, let your boss know that you appreciate the conversations AND (not but) you’d also like to talk to someone (boss, HR) for even more guidance on how to grow within the company.

Again, this is not an uncommon situation and is often remedied with a few intentional, direct, heart-felt conversations. Good luck!