Business Practice: Receiving a dubious promotion

Credit: Michael Meier

Nov 06, 2020

Business Practice is a collaboration between Chicago Booth Review and Chicago Booth’s Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership. Tell us how you’d deal with the situation below; once you submit your answer, you’ll be able to read and evaluate other readers’ answers, and they’ll be able to read and evaluate yours. Shortly after we stop accepting new answers, we’ll post an analysis of the results by Booth professor of behavioral science George Wu, and if you like, we will follow up with a personalized email explaining how other readers responded to your answer. Check out analysis of past Business Practice scenarios here.

You’ve been at your current company for three years in a middle-management role. You get on well with your handful of direct reports, and your team has earned a reputation for high-quality work over the course of a number of successful projects. In fact, things have gone so well that your boss has just delivered the good news that you’re being promoted: senior is being appended to your job title, and you’re being given another team, effectively doubling your managerial duties.

This new position is a standard part of the career path at your company for those moving from middle-management to executive-level positions. But it’s not all good news. “As you know,” your boss tells you, “the economic downturn has really affected revenue, at least temporarily. Although we’ve avoided implementing a formal hiring or salary freeze, there’s just no budget to give you a raise at this time. We’ll make it up to you down the road.”

You’re pleased to have been recognized for your work and to have taken a necessary step up the corporate ladder, but promotions are the key inflection points for compensatory changes at your company. You’re concerned that if you don’t get a raise now, your salary won’t fully level up until your next promotion—which could be years away, if it ever happens. Do you try to negotiate for a raise, or hope that when economic conditions improve, your patience will be rewarded? Write a script for what you would say to your boss.

This Business Practice scenario is now closed to new responses. Thank you to everyone who offered their insights and helped evaluate answers. Check back soon for George Wu’s analysis of the answers we received.