Q: My co-worker, who started one year before me in the same entry-level position, recently told me her weekly salary. I calculated that she makes $7,000 more per year than I do. I feel cheated, since I do more work than she does, help her on her projects, and even solve her problems. I love my working environment and my co-workers and I don’t want to jeopardize my relationships, but I feel I should say something.
A: In general, I believe compensation is a topic best kept between each individual worker and his or her manager. While your co-worker may be telling the truth, this wouldn’t be the first time someone inflated his salary to appear more important. and even assuming the figures being discussed are accurate, talk about salaries inevitably leads to frustration. Your best recourse is to ask for a meeting with your manager. Open with something like: “It’s come to my attention that Mary (the co-worker) may be receiving a significantly higher salary than me. I realize she’s been here a year longer that I have. If this really is the case, I wanted to discuss it with you, because I’d like to know what I can do to be in a position to receive a similar salary in the next year.” The key point is, you don’t want to accuse the company of being unfair. Instead, use the knowledge you gained from you co-worker to map a strategy for your own success.