Career Coach: One of my juniors is paid more than me – what should I do?

Kate SavageTalking about pay can be tricky, but what do you do when you discover one of your own reports is getting paid more than you?

Hi Kate, I recently found out that one of my team is being paid more than me, and I’m their boss! Is this even allowed? What do I do?

I’ll tell you what you don’t do. You don’t storm into your boss’s office and demand a payrise because ‘that’s not fair’, but I’m sure you wouldn’t do that anyway.

Ok, so take a deep breath, this one needs some thinking about.

It’s a tough one. On one hand, people’s salaries should be confidential and people shouldn’t have payrises just because.

On the other hand, this is bullshit. (Oh sorry, did I say that out loud?)

Having peers on more than you I get. There can be a big difference between the experience, skill and impact of one GAD to the next. But people on a lower position, particularly those who report into you…that’s bad form.

I would hope that agencies have a salary bracket in place that exists to put some structure around the recognition and reward of each level.

If someone comes in when people are desperate for that position to be filled, they can inevitably negotiate for more money. That’s not skill, that’s being in the right place at the right time. Maybe you’ve been there so long your salary is increasing incrementally, rather than you being able to self-promote.

Maybe one role incurs recruiter fees and another doesn’t.

But even if it feels like an obvious decision to you, you don’t really know why this happened I assume, so be smart about how you open the conversation.

Here are a few ways in.

Keep it to yourself and don’t care (said nobody, ever)

Keep it to yourself and let it fester.

If you’re able to say that you know, go to your boss and explain why you’re worth more than what you’re on now.

If you’re not, go to your boss and explain why you’re worth more than what you’re on now. (Notice I didn’t say ‘…more than what they’re on.’)

But before you do this, decide, if the answer to a payrise is no – what are you going to do?

Sulk, rage, suck it up or leave?

You need your big girl/boy pants on for this.

In terms of your values and priorities, and in terms of how you behave before, during and after the conversation.

Because that’s likely to affect the boss’ decision as much as what you say about it.

But more importantly, make a conscious decision upfront so that you know your plan and what part this will play in it either way.

If you have a question you’d like answered, just email kate.savage@elbowroomcoaching.com – named or anonymous, on any career topic


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.