Ask Megan: How to handle a request for a pay rise from an employee who hasn't earned it - Women's Agenda

Ask Megan: How to handle a request for a pay rise from an employee who hasn’t earned it

A male colleague has a woman in his team who is fixated on getting a pay rise and that she is not paid fairly as a woman. Our company does a lot in this space and they have given me amazing opportunities. This team does not have a pay gap either. The individual brings it up at least once a week even in front of others. As it stands today she wouldn’t be recommended for a promotion in any area but only because of work ethic and attitude. What can my colleague do?

Phoebe, Team manager, Finance

Thanks for sending this in. Firstly, I premise my response by saying that I am not an HR professional so my advice is based on my decades of management and gender diversity experience, not HR policy.

The first thing here is to recognise that although you have been given amazing opportunities at work, this is not always the case for everyone. That is not to say that there are necessarily inconsistencies, but there may be. I have seen this happen in the best organisations with the most robust HR and diversity policies, so it is important to be aware of.

This employee clearly feels that she is being slighted. Whether that is fact or fiction, it is her reality. The first thing the manager needs to do is get very clear on the facts of the matter. I recommend he meet with HR and review the pay across his team at all levels, where this individual sits in the pay scale range and also within her peer group. He needs to review aspects like when her last increase was and any relevant bonuses. I would also look at her performance plan over the past three years, how she has measured up against her key performance indicators, and any development plans in place. The point here is for him to be crystal clear on all aspects of her situation.

The manager then, after reviewing the facts, needs to decide if there are any discrepancies across the team and with this individual specifically. If there are, then they need to be addressed. Even the best organisations with stringent pay equity programs, can fall behind between pay periods. This review is also important regarding performance as you mentioned work ethic may be an issue. If there is a gap, he will need to determine what is appropriate, looking at pay versus performance, size of gap, development plans if there are any.

If you are correct and there is no gap, then I would then suggest he have a formal meeting with her (and his up-line female manager you mentioned in your email) and go through the facts. He clearly cannot share other employees salary details with her, however he can articulate where she is placed in the pay range, and all of the other details above relative to her peer group. Once he has cleared up that she is in fact paid fairly as a female employee, then he needs to get to the bottom of any other dissatisfaction that is influencing her behaviour, and address that directly.

He should also make it clear about what is appropriate to raise in a team forum and what isn’t. An employee absolutely should feel comfortable to address any issues they feel necessary about their conditions at work. However they need to do so in the right manner and the right setting. Helping this woman understand that, and also understand any consequences for doing otherwise, could be important here if all areas of perceived concern have been addressed and yet the behaviour continues.

Hopefully this will address the employees concerns and help to enhance both her experience at work, her perceived worth for the work she is doing, and the manager will know that he has thoroughly and factually addressed the issue.

Got a burning question about your career, leadership, balance or how to create the success you are after? Send your questions, along with your first name, role and industry, to [email protected] and each week Megan will choose one to address in detail.


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