Money Talk

Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems is probably one of the biggest pieces of wisdom to come out of a rap song. Even thought not many people will come out and ask you, how much money you make, plenty will start the getting to know you process with what do you do for a living. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that, the reality of relationships is that they all have some kind of basis in also economic principles. If I cannot afford to go to a luxurious vacation, or the trendiest night club where a bottle is over 100 bucks I am going to have to decline invitations. However, it is all personal choice and not a rule. I know people that have plenty of money but still prefer to go to the local watering whole.

Most employers have a do not talk about your salary policy. I completely agree with that notion and never want to find out what my coworkers make. It is bad every single way you look at it, if you make more they feel bad, if you make less you feel bad, if you make the same probably both of you are going to feel either more qualified or harder working than the other. I also saw how a company finding out the IT department’s salary wreck havoc on many relationships there.

My first job out of college I was lucky enough to have landed before I graduated. At graduation I had a job and an above average salary for a recent graduate. While this was not the best job I have ever had it did teach me a lot about what it is to be a professional. I learned many lessons that I apply even today, and even though at the end I felt like money wise I was getting the shaft, I still have to thank them for the opportunity and experience I gained in my years there. We supported a sister company with their system. It was a call center and many of the people that work there became friends with us over time. We would go there to set up something new on their computers or just to install new servers. I used to go there a lot because of some sales call where they needed technical people as well as doing some business analysis for new reports and features.

The president’s secretary was a chatty girl that always wanted to know more about you than what was really appropriate for a professional setting. I did not dislike her but I always had my guard up when I was around her. For corporate reasons the company decided to merge health plans, our company had 10 employees the call center about 100. The little snag came about when a report with our salaries came through the front desk before being handled by HR. The president’s secretary took it upon herself to disseminate our salaries to certain people and before the end of the day we were the talk of the call center.

Our next visit there was not pleasant. Some people had looks of resentment on their face, others were right out rude towards us. “You make too much money seemed to be the theme.” Nobody wanted to exchange pleasantries and we became relegated to only communicating to the people that were at “our level.” It was sad, but it was a reality I had to learn, some people cannot handle the thought of you having something they don’t. Envy is a powerful demon to have descend upon you… it can override even knowing a person for months, even years.

Since leaving that first job I worked on consulting and made almost triple what I made on that first job. I was never completely happy with consulting for a set firm because at times they put their needs before the client’s needs. I have enjoyed consulting independently a lot more, but what I truly love is working for a set company where I am part of the staff. I do not make nearly as much as I could have if I consulted but I am very happy… more money means a lot more pressure plus a lot more traveling and that gets old quickly.

One of the past companies I worked for I was making good money but not my best paid job. I tried not to think about what other people made, we had a pretty large department and I had made some personal relationships there. My boss ruined that when he informed me while giving me a review that I made a lot more money than the other people that worked there. It was a strategy to make me swallow a 3% raise when I was really expecting something around 6%. After the speech of insurance and other potential bonuses he dropped that nugget on me. It weighted heavily on me that I made more money than others. While the biggest reason for me making more money was because I had some very specialized certifications the company need to be supported, it did not feel fair. Some of the people working there had been loyal to that company for more than 5 years and now I knew what range they were on. One of my friends there told me he was interviewing and I was happy for him until it did not pan out because he was not going to make much more money and the move meant more drive time. He told me how much he was offered and even that was about 20K less than what I made… it made me feel pretty horrible because he was a very hard worker that was dedicated to doing a good job… maybe he did not have as wide range of skills than I have and some of the technologies he was working on were outdated, but overall I felt we should have been closer in range.

Many companies clean up their IT department as soon as they are getting too expensive. It is not an uncommon practice that almost fuels the job hopping IT professionals are sometimes famous for. You get new unexperienced people and pay them very little and let got of your seasoned people that are costing you too much. I am lucky that I don’t have to worry about these kind of problems anymore and that I have no clue what the other people at my company make. Ignorance is truly bliss when it comes to how much other people make.

4 comments on “Money Talk

  1. Don’t forget the bagels and really crappy free coffee!! =)

    At the previous company I worked for, we as an IT department felt we were really underpaid. We were usually told that we fell into the median range for our job classification. So that just made us wonder what HR thought our job classification was and where they were getting their data from. Of course, they wouldn’t tell us and that led to more suspicion and resentment. We did end up getting a “job readjustment” raise after we had complained for a long time, so I think everyone was happy in the long run. The one thing about being in the IT department there is that we had access to payroll and knew what everyone made. We were generally pleased to find out that we were all very close to the same salary, so it wasn’t bad but if we had some large divergence or something, I’m sure it would have led to some hard feelings. We were pretty shocked to find out how much and how little some people in the company made and noticed that parity in department salaries was fairly limited to just the IT department!

  2. I knew everyones salary at my last employer because my cube was next to the payroll dept. I totally agree knowing your co-workers salary is a bad seed but only if they are in your department. lol The VP was making 125k a year…..

    The comment about mo money mo problems is a iffy deal. Its more of a state of mind…and it’s relative. How’s that for an ambiguous statement.

  3. I never like to talk about salaries, even among friends that work in completely different industries. I guess, to me, there’s somewhat of an industry standard in terms of how much people should be paid for their responsibilities, experience and performance — and in most cases, the company itself is cheap so that should mean to get the Hell out as soon as possible or the employee lacks one of the above. I know that in my industry right now, programmers are a hot ticket and are making a lot more than other people in my agency. But, I don’t begrudge that because it’s a skill set that I don’t have and is very unique/necessary.

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