Luca Caruana Underappreciated and Undervalued

In the latest instalment of our Work and Wealth Watch series, where money coach Luca Caruana provides expert responses to all your questions related to money, work and wealth, we explore the challenge of seeking recognition and compensation for work without stirring conflict.

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Dear Luca,

I’m reaching out with a career dilemma that’s been weighing on me, hoping for some guidance. I’ve been with a local corporate services firm for six years, starting as an intern and growing deeply attached to the workplace. The environment is congenial, I’ve formed close friendships with many colleagues, and my bosses have generally been supportive.

However, a situation has arisen that’s causing me some concern. When my previous direct manager left, the firm’s partners decided against hiring a replacement. Instead, they entrusted me with all of his responsibilities. Initially, I embraced this as an opportunity, despite no immediate change in my salary or title.

When I later broached the topic of a promotion to a managerial role, citing my enhanced duties, I was somewhat dismissed due to my age—I’m 25. At the annual performance review, while I was promoted to Senior Associate, it fell short of the managerial level I aspired to.

This was disappointing, considering the significant effort and value I’ve brought to my expanded role. It’s been a year since, and though I received a modest raise, it’s markedly less than what legal managers earn at comparable firms.

I’m not one to stir conflict, but I do feel that my contributions merit better recognition, both in terms of position and compensation. Do you think it’s time for me to be more assertive in seeking a promotion and salary increase? Additionally, should I consider obtaining offers from other firms to strengthen my negotiating position?

I value your insight on this delicate situation without burning bridges, yet ensuring I’m fairly compensated and recognised for my work.

Best regards,

Underappreciated and Undervalued


Luca Responds:

Dear Underappreciated and Undervalued,

Your experience, while frustrating, is far from unique in the professional landscape. It’s all too common for dedicated employees like you to be overburdened without receiving the recognition or compensation they deserve. But let’s tackle this challenge with a clear strategy.

First and foremost, your rise from intern to Senior Associate at the same firm over six years is a testament to your commitment and skill. This journey alone demonstrates your value to the firm, a point that should be central in any discussion about your role and compensation.

As you prepare for this crucial conversation with your bosses, it’s essential to gather concrete evidence of your contributions, particularly those that align with managerial responsibilities. This will solidify your case for a promotion. Alongside this, arm yourself with knowledge about the current market rates for legal managers. This information is not just leverage; it’s a benchmark for what you can rightfully expect in terms of compensation.

When you initiate this conversation, focus on the value you bring to the firm. Highlight your achievements, your alignment with the firm’s goals, and how your work has contributed to its successes. It’s important to approach this discussion not from a place of entitlement, but from a position of mutual benefit. You’re not just asking for a promotion; you’re demonstrating why it’s a logical step for both you and the firm.

Remember, compensation is not just about salary. If there’s resistance to a direct promotion, open the floor to other forms of compensation like flexible work options, additional leave, or professional development opportunities. These aspects can also significantly enhance your work-life balance and job satisfaction.

Using external job offers as leverage is a delicate matter. It should be a last resort and undertaken with caution, as it can alter the dynamics with your current employer. If you do choose to go down this path, be prepared for all outcomes, including the possibility of moving to a new firm.

Finally, whatever the outcome, maintaining professionalism and preserving the relationships you’ve built is paramount. These relationships can be invaluable assets, regardless of where your career takes you.

In advocating for yourself, the key is to blend assertiveness with a clear understanding of your worth and a strategic approach to negotiations. Remember, it’s not just about claiming what you deserve; it’s about illustrating why it benefits all involved.

Warm regards,

Luca,

The Money Coach, from the Money Coaching Hub

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