Note: Kayla Dugger has hosted business therapy sessions for Charlotte-based companies and cofounded Hygge Coworking. Want to participate? Send your career situation to firstname.lastname@example.org or just write a completely anonymous note in our feedback form. Either way, you’ll remain anonymous.
Dear Career Coach,
Over the past year I have really been growing into my role at my new company – taking on additional responsibilities, forming new partnerships, and more than doubling the amount of accounts I support.
When review season came this year my boss agreed that I had performed well above and beyond expectations, but insisted that I wasn’t “polished” enough to be promoted.
After working my hiney off all year how do I approach this. They aren’t paying me against the job I’m actually doing and while money isn’t everything — it is something. We don’t work for fun here.
Any advice? Help me not #RageQuit.
Generally, we’re all pretty terrible with reviews. We suck at giving reviews, and we suck at taking them.
Personally, I don’t understand why we’re still waiting for one day a year to have these uncomfortable conversations.
The feedback you get at the end of a fiscal year shouldn’t be a surprise to you — we should be talking through strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and areas of improvement regularly.
I think we’re motivated by three things in our careers: ego, passion or money. We either change/take/create jobs because we want more recognition (ego); we want to do something more aligned with who we believe ourselves to be (passion); or we are in a keep-your-head-down-and-just-do-the-job state of mind (money).
Once one motivation runs its course, we seek careers and jobs that satisfy another. Once we get our egos are stroked enough, we move toward passions. Once we get worn down by our passion, we move toward money. Once we get enough money we…well, you get it. We’ll experience multiple motivations throughout our lives.
Today, I was listening to an episode of the Armchair Expert podcast. It was a conversation with psychotherapist, Esther Perel (highly recommend this episode for anyone in a relationship). They chat a lot about how we expect our partners to be EVERYTHING to us — we expect them to meet needs that we used to get from an entire village not just one person. So, of course we let each other down; we’re setting unbelievably high expectations for one another.
I think the same can be said about your career. We beat ourselves up when we think our careers aren’t checking every box for us. So, we seek to have little affairs for ourselves. It’s in these little affairs that Etsy-wreath-making business, coworking spaces and dudes starting breweries with their buddies are born.
Where’s your next affair taking you? You need to decide which motivation is driving you. Does it really matter that you didn’t get promoted? Or, is your ego just hurt?
I should say, it’s totally OK if your ego is the priority right now. Just think about what you want/need to prioritize in your life.
It sounds like this job should be a keep-your-head-down-and-get-your-paper kind of job.
And, if that’s the case, just because you didn’t get promoted doesn’t mean you can’t ask for more money. You’ve still taken on more responsibilities. You’ve still worked your ass off. You didn’t get a title change but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a paycheck change.
My family has a saying, “Raise me, don’t praise me.” I’m more motivated by the praise (because I’m that person) but I like that I came from people who say, “Don’t tell me, ‘good job.’ Show me the money.” Go get your cash.
Your review is over but it doesn’t mean the conversation needs to be. You can have this conversation about compensation whenever you want. They would prefer it to be around review time, but just like any other conversation there isn’t an expiration date.
Personally, I like the idea of thinking about you as not being polished. It sounds pretty punk-rock to me. That’s probably terrible career advice, but I’ve always liked misfits the most.
Figure out if it’s the ego, the passion or the money that you need to feed right now. Jerry Maguire this job, or play the game and ask how you can become more polished, if you think a promotion will make you feel better.
Also, rage quitting is always on the table if you need it. You should know thought, it’s not a good look, and I can’t in good faith recommend you do that.
Remember you can always start over. You can pick up conversations whenever. You will change your mind again and again. Decide what’s important right now. Stay punk-rock. Don’t rage quit. Let what’s going on in your actual life steer you toward what you need to get from your job.
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