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I'm underpaid relative to my responsibilities (part 2)

I am a full time employee with 2 years experience in SAP SCM (primarily APO DP). I am a team leader for a worldwide APO DP implementation (to support around 100 users) within a multinational organization, but feel my current salary is too low for this responsibility. Can you advise what the average salary range is for this type of position for full time employees?

Continued from part 1

Personally, I don't advise people to go into their boss's office in the middle of a project and say, "I've done the market research, and I'm not being paid on the level of my colleagues." In these market conditions, where so many people are out of work or "riding the pine," how can we even know what is average? A few people making "zero" can bring down the averages real quick. The reality is that there are many SAP professionals who would love to be in your situation, running a huge APO initiative. It would surprise you to see how many talented APO consultants are available right now. The work is out there, but it is spotty. You need to take this into account when you strategize about maximizing your compensation. I am not saying you should just be grateful for what you have, but I am saying that we all have to be realistic about our leverage. And right now, companies have most of the leverage, because the supply of willing and qualified "replacements" is quite high.

So how do you maximize your salary given that employers have the leverage right now? One technique is to actually go out and try to get a better job offer. The way we get our leverage back is by strengthening our options. Armed with a much higher job offer, you'd be in a strong situation to either maximize your current salary or move on to a company that will pay you more.

Of course, some employers find that tactic hardcore. But as long as you are straightforward and allow plenty of time to resolve the issues, I think you have every right to test the market. But make sure you've thought through that option carefully before you proceed - it's a hardball tactic. Simply asking for a raise because "you deserve it," without seeking any outside reinforcement of your market value, is another option. But if your company is like most others, there' s probably not much room to play with in your base salary without upsetting that apple cart.

Another tactic you could consider is to lobby for some type of project milestone bonus when the next phase of your project is completed. That bonus could be tied to some very concrete metrics. You would win a lot of points with your fellow team members if you tried to lobby for a bonus that applied to the entire team, not just yourself. Now, you might get turned down, but who can fault you for proposing that if the project saves the company serious money, that the folks who made it happen might deserve a financial "thank you?" High-level executives make that same argument all the time.

Another option might be to put all your efforts into making this project successful, and then at the end of the project, talk with your employer about an increase in leadership based on your track record. As your management responsibilities increase, so will your salary. That way, the discussion is not so much about numbers, it's about moving up the management ladder based on your merit-worthy work.

The kinds of approaches I just mentioned are pro-active, and they're based on making a major contribution to your company and asking for an incentive if your performance pays off. To me, that approach generates a lot more goodwill, and a better chance of success, then marching into your boss' office armed with the latest ComputerWorld salary survey. Good luck!

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