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Tech Manager—Don’t Quit… Yet

The annual AUGI Salary Survey is of interest to just about everyone. In fact I don’t think I know anyone who can resist looking at a chart and list of salaries for the industry they serve.  But with publication of the numbers, and review by our readers, comes an emotional response. While I do not know where you might fall on the emotional rollercoaster after looking at the September 2018 issue of AUGIWorld, I can say that I have been through this, too.

I am Doing Really Well

Some of you might look and see that you are compensated better than most. The firm you work for appreciates you and your contributions. You can say, “I have given superior service and support to our staff and I am worth what they pay me (and maybe a little more, now that I think about it.)” You are doing pretty well, the firm is on solid ground, you love the people, and things are good.

I am Not Paid Enough

This might be you. You have tried to prove your worth, but the firm is not responding. You might be waiting for them to notice what a great job you are doing, but they never seem to get it. You are frustrated, but still motivated to do a great job. Maybe they will notice that you have added on new tasks and helped on more projects. They will wake up soon.

I Need to Find Another Job

“That’s it. I’m done.” You look at the charts and graphs and get depressed. You know you are worth more than what your firm pays. You provide more value than they compensate you for. You should be paid more. You are frustrated and hate looking at what others make. You think, “My firm does not know what a gold mine they have in me. This firm is a bunch of cheapskates and I am never going to get paid what I am worth. I am going to jump ship.” You may not say that out loud… or maybe you do. This might be a good time to do that with the low level of unemployment right now. Finding good people is hard for firms. You may be worth more than you are making.

Back in 2008, I wrote an article for AUGIWorld on this topic. Here is a snip (with a few edits) from that article that still applies today.

The salary situation you may be in is a reflection of several things.

First, it could be a reflection on you.  Are you willing to stay at a job that pays less than the going rate for someone at your level of experience and education?  Then that says something about you.  And if you have been underpaid for some time, then the firm knows that you will put up with it.  Maybe you should start looking around… BUT—some people stay in a position knowing that they are underpaid, but knowing that they are with a firm where they want to be, building their resume, learning great things, and working with great people.  They stay because it will pay off later. Make sure you stay focused on why you are still there and don’t get frustrated with a little smaller paycheck.

Second, it could be a reflection on your firm.  Some firms just do not pay as much as others.  They run lean and mean and squeeze every last dime out of every area to stay profitable.  This could be because the firm is not run as efficiently as it could be.  They may not realize your value in the industry. They need to know what value you bring.  If the firm’s overall salary and compensation is low for everyone, then don’t expect something great from them.

Third, it could be a reflection on your industry or the economy.  (This does not apply as much as it did when I wrote this back in 2008.) If your industry is experiencing a temporary downturn in production and employment levels, then there may be limitation on the availability of higher wages.  Slowdowns in the number of contracts that are out on the street means that your firm may have to be cautious about spending.  If that is what is happening in your industry, making a change may be difficult. But in 2018, most industries are stable or doing better. Now may be a great time to look around.

But here is where I really wanted to go in this article…

You Are More Than What You Make

Don’t get trapped into thinking that your take-home pay is the only thing that defines your value and enhances your life.  Salary is very important and you need to provide for and contribute to the upkeep of the family. But before you storm into your boss’s office and demand a raise, or quit, think about the other things at your firm that provide rewards.

There are many ways for your company to reward your efforts.  Company culture (often the #1 reason for job contentment), workload, tech opportunities, and so much more can enhance your job satisfaction. If the budget is too tight for your supervisor to bump your salary any higher, then look for some of these.

  • Bonuses may be easier on some companies, so ask if you can develop a system where you challenge and push yourself, with the commitment from the company to reward you for achieving various goals. You never know, they might go for it.
  • Work Life Balance, when used well, is a great benefit. Consider asking (or actually using) flextime, work at home days, or some vacation time.
  • Seek out new projects and responsibilities. Nothing invigorates like a new challenge. And it sets you up for success and a possible raise next time.
  • Ask for career development options, such as new assignments, training, more education benefits, professional development, or conference attendance money (for Autodesk University, of course).
  • Move to a new office or location. See if you can move your desk to a new area. Get more natural light. Be more in the mix of activity.
  • Start teaching others. When you share knowledge, it strengthens the firm, heightens your value, and encourages you as others are thankful for your time and talent.
  • Request a job title change to better position yourself for promotions and raises in the future.

Some of these may sound trivial, but if you like the work, the workers, and the workplace, then seek other ways of gaining more job satisfaction than just the money in your pocket. Before you ponder quitting or looking for another job, think about what you like about your current position. Maybe even make a list. Then think hard. If you still want to make a move, then it might be a great time to do just that.

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