Dear Dr. Keith; July 2024

Dear Dr. Keith,

I’m a 32-year-old man who’s struggling with motivation and attitude at work. I’ve been with my company for more than five years. When I started, they promised plenty of opportunity to move up within the organization with yearly performance reviews, competitive salaries and good benefits. I thought this was a company I could grow with, and my intention was to stay with them for the long term. Things were great for the first few years, and I was happy with the direction my career was headed, however, I had higher aspirations. A little more than a year ago, they offered me what I thought would be my dream job, Director of Marketing and Advertising. I would become the leader and mentor of a team of five creative, ego driven individuals that struggled to get along with their prior director. He eventually left the company, and the position became available. I had proved myself to be a valued member of the team, so my bosses had confidence in my ability to lead them and I was offered the job. I asked if there would be an increase in my salary to compensate for my increase in responsibility, and their answer was that they would evaluate me in six months to see how I was doing. Here’s my issue. It’s been more than a year with no evaluation, no raise, double the work and having to deal with a lot of my team’s personal and professional drama. I’ve asked management multiple times when we can meet to discuss a raise, and I keep getting put off. To make matters worse, they’ve replaced a couple of people on my team and hired them at a higher salary than mine. I’m exhausted, frustrated, angry and ready to quit. I’m not sure what to do. Please help. 

~ Steve N.


Hey Steve,

I’m sorry for your frustration. Unfortunately, this type of situation is not uncommon in the corporate world. You described yourself and your team as creative, ego driven individuals. Companies will prey on that ego by offering management positions with titles; President, Vice- President, Director, etc. That position and title will come with an office, your name and designation on the door, a nameplate on your desk and, if you’re lucky, a nice plant in the corner. Frequently, it requires twice the work with no extra money and a promise for a raise in the future based on performance. This is not unusual because the title on our office door and business cards strokes our ego and makes us feel important, so most people accept the position without considering the future ramifications. Be careful to not react to your negative feelings, that’s when we make poor choices. It’s important to participate in enjoyable activities outside of work to help you stay calm, recharge and respond positively to your situation until you choose to change it. In relationships, both personal and professional, we have three choices: If you don’t like the behavior of some members of your team, model the behavior you want changed or accept the situation as is, feeling underpaid and underappreciated, or leave. However, if you choose to leave your current company, make sure you have another opportunity already lined up. It’s easier to find a job when you’re already employed. You want to avoid any impulse to quit and bring chaos into your life. Which stress would you rather have, having a job that’s not ideal, but pays the bills or quitting your job and having no income to pay your bills? Something to ponder. In the meantime, be patient while preparing for your journey, to find a new job…


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