In this article, we’ll explore five reasons managers refuse to give developers the rewards they deserve, and what you can do about it.
The Problem Outlined
The harder you work, the less you’re rewarded.
Your co-workers aren’t pulling their weight. They do less work, but it seems like they’re receiving more and more rewards. You’re running circles around the slackers on your team, but your manager doesn’t seem to care.
How is this fair?
It’s completely unfair. What’s worse, this scenario will continue to repeat itself whether you stay in your current role or not.
Is Your Manager a Terrible Person?
Your manager (or boss) is a terrible person. Or at least, that’s the nagging thought many developers have as they notice their peers are passing them by.
Is it true?
Possibly, but that answer isn’t something you can fix. If your boss is a terrible person, there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t force them to change.
But what if you could persuade them to change?
Well, that would be something now, wouldn’t it? Well, you can change their mind if you understand why they’re not rewarding you for your hard work. Worst case scenario, you’ll know whether it’s time to find another job or not.
So let’s look now at five reasons managers refuse to give developers the rewards they deserve, and what you can do about it.
Reason 1: You Are Insurance for the Future
Your manager may be making moves towards a promotion or change in position. They view you as a necessary component to his success, and they want you with them as they climb the corporate ladder.
When they’re promoted, you’re promoted.
In their mind, this is great for job security because it means they see you as invaluable. Unfortunately, this means they’re not going to let you out of their sight if they can help it.
It’s a tough position to be in.
If you call your boss out on this, there’s a very good chance they’ll fire you or punish you in some way. If you know you’re able to have a heart-to-heart with your boss and it will be received well, go for it.
What if it won’t?
There are two ways to approach the problem. The easiest option is to simply find another job.
What if you can’t quit your job?
The second option is to begin building connections and allies in your company. If you can move laterally to another position or role in your current company, it would be good to do so.
Reason 2: They Can’t Afford to Reward You
This is a common problem.
Your manager has a specific budget to work with. This budget is typically set in stone until it’s time to renegotiate the budget for the next fiscal year. For whatever reason, a raise for you and your colleagues would put their department over budget.
Your boss can’t say that, of course.
If they decide to tell you the truth — that they can’t afford to give you a raise — you and your co-workers will leave.
Your manager can’t have that.
So they’ll string you along for as long as they can, until they can actually give you a substantial raise. Your manager can string you along in several ways. For example, they can:
give you a cost of living raise (3% or less), which is kind of an insult
give you cheaper amenities (that is, a promise to increase 401k contributions in the future) to placate you while they work with HR to figure out how much they can give you
give you nothing because you’re a patriot, and you’ll stay even if you receive nothing (more on that in a minute)
push you out of the company once they’ve squeezed as much value out of you as they can (they had no intention of increasing your pay and will dump you when confronted)
give someone else a (cheaper) raise in hopes that you’ll accept the same when word gets out or you’ll leave
Most of the time, your manager will never admit they can’t afford to reward you.
How will they respond?
It all depends on whether you’re a patriot or a mercenary.
According to Gallup and Steve Rasmussen, former CEO at Nationwide, all employees are either “patriots” or “mercenaries”.
Patriots identify with their company. They’ve bought into the company’s values and culture. They’ve embraced the company mission, and they’re true believers. They’re in it for the long haul. They’re working in support of something bigger than themselves.
Mercenaries are more likely to focus on personal outcomes. They’re great at getting results, but they’re typically more disengaged. They’re gone as soon as things take a turn for the worse. They’re phenomenal workers, but they’re hired guns.
If you’re a patriot, managers will likely blow you off for as long as they can. They know you’re a committed employee, so there’s less incentive to do what’s necessary to keep you.
They know you aren’t going anywhere.
If you’re a mercenary, you’re focused on wiifm (what’s in it for me?). If you’re a superstar employee but also a mercenary, management will work harder to keep you, so long as you continue to perform. The lack of loyalty goes both ways. If you’re a mediocre or terrible employee, management will simply let you go.
5 Reasons Managers Refuse to Give Developers the Rewards They Deserve