Automatic raise?

This is just another rant about my company. I work hard every day and try to give my company 100%. I have my off days just like everyone else but I always try to give them their money’s worth. I’m not one that “expects” a raise. I believe a raise is earned. My view is that an employee should do their job duties to the best of their ability everyday. Doing your duty earns your paycheck. However, going above and beyond those duties earns your raise.

My company conducts performance reviews on an annual basis. This means that I have to work hard all year long, out-performing expectations consistently, before I see a raise. I know some companies do reviews on a quarterly or semi annual basis, but not mine. I’m cool with this. I was informed of this policy before I hired on. But, ever since the economy slowed the company has seen fit to use the economy as an excuse to lower (or even skip) raises from year to year. Although, they were able to spend 2 billion dollars to acquire a competitor recently. And they continue to expand job duties and add performance expectations. They also insist on raising standards from year to year. I’m cool with this but it has to be a two-way street.

I’m aware of my options. I could leave. I’m also aware of the fact that my job isn’t mine, it belongs to the company. It’s their job, their money, and their decision to make. I know all of this. The problem is that I have worked for a lot of companies in my short life and this is the only company I have ever envisioned myself retiring from. I really like this job and this company.

I enjoy almost everything about my work. And I’m good at it. Which brings me to my review. Every year that I have been with this company I’ve gotten great reviews. I always exceed expectations. I am definitely an asset and not a liability to my company. I have never gotten a complaint from a customer. I don’t have any safety or ethics violations and, like I said, I’m good at my job. But my raises have consistently been below industry averages (with a few exceptions).

Whenever I try to talk to my manager about my raises he is less than helpful. He practically runs from any conversation about money. I’m not one of those guys that wants anything other than money from my employer. I don’t get a sense of purpose from my job. I don’t derive any level of personal worth from my job and it doesn’t effect my self-esteem. All I want is to be rewarded (in cash) for my skills. Anything else I get from my friends, family, and church.

Just recently I spoke to one of my managers about the raise situation and I was told “No one has gotten a raise yet”. I don’t understand this mentality. Should I feel better because no one else has got raise? I responded by saying that I have no control over anyone else’ work ethic or efforts, not to mention that I have no interest in anyone else’ financial situation. I didn’t see how one effects the other.? My manager seemed confused and almost offended by my response.

When did we get to a point in this country where we should take comfort in shared misery? Why should I feel better about a bad situation just because I’m not alone? How does that help me? I don’t wake up in the morning and say “what can I do to get Bob a raise?”. What I do is get up and try to figure out how I can give some extra effort to EARN the recognition I need to receive a good raise. I don’t believe a raise should be automatic and I don’t think everyone should get one. It should be based on effort. It should be earned.

The whole entitlement mentality irks me but it seems to be the trend. We’re all entitled to a raise and if no one gets a raise, then there’s no problem because we’re all in it together. At my company there are over-performers and under-performers. If everyone was an under-performer I don’t think the company would be okay with that.

Another issue I have is that middle management, that’s who I answer to, likes to respond with “at least you have a job” or “you’re lucky to have a job”. I don’t know which bothers me more. I’m not “lucky” to have a job. I have a strong work ethic and I make substantial sacrifices to meet my performance goals. I have cancelled numerous plans (many at the last minute) to ensure certain jobs were completed on time. My point is that I have earned my position in the company. If it was “luck” I would have been fired a long time ago. I get the point they’re trying to make, it’s a bad economy and some people can’t find work. Okay. But lucky? No. I’m not lucky. I work hard and earn what I get.

I guess this post is more of a vent than a rant. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that society is slowly minimizing the individual. It seems like people are moving toward a collective mentality. We’re being viewed as a group. This is a hard adjustment for me. I remember hearing stories about the Soviet Union and how productivity was discouraged. Initiative and drive were stifled and creativity suffered. I remember a quote I heard once. A guy visited the USSR and was in a cab. He asked the driver why no one was really doing anything. The driver responded by saying “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”.

I see that in our country’s future. Why should I go above and beyond if I won’t be rewarded for it? Or, worse yet, why go above and beyond if I’m going to be viewed the same as everyone else?

If there’s no incentive to distinguish myself from anyone else, why would I? The answer is that I wouldn’t. And, that’s what I’m pissed about. I don’t want to be that guy. But, in my situation, I only see 3 options. I can either accept it and keep on working hard without any incentive. I can quit and find another job. Or, I can stay and adjust my performance to my environment. I’m drifting toward the latter. But the worst part is I’m not alone. I look around and I see a whole country drifting toward the latter. The sad part is that there’s a large portion of the country that doesn’t even know they’re drifting. Or maybe they just don’t care.?