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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem


Dear Sue: I am the sales manager for a major corporation. I do a great deal of travel for the company, and have increased sales each year I've been with the company. According to my reps and upper management, the rep force has never been better. Management tells me I am doing a great job and all of my reviews have been glowing. 

When I received a small raise, I was told that it was the largest of anyone in my department, and that it was all they could afford to pay. My pay is based on a 40- hour week, yet I am required to work over 40 hours per week, including Saturdays. 

Based on what I know, people in my position are making over six figures, and I am not anywhere close to making that amount. Many of my sales reps make two-three times what I make.

I realize that I can leave, but would prefer to stay where I am, if only I could earn more money. What should I do? 

- Underpaid sales manager

Sue Says: If you haven't already, rather than asking for a larger salary, ask to earn a percent of the sales that are generated by your sales reps. In addition, talk with other companies, research your industry and determine the going rate for someone in your position. Once you have substantial evidence that you are underpaid, it will be easier to discuss the need for a raise. 

The next time you approach management, rather than asking for more money, tell them what you need at this point to feel that you are compensated fairly for your work. If you truly are earning less than you should be, make it clear that you will not taken advantage of.

Put together and present compelling reasons for your request. In writing, show the volume you have generated, the sales increases, profit to the company, your salary, the sales reps salary, and the average salary for someone in your position. 

When you approach management from a position of strength you will have a better chance of receiving the response you want. If you are prepared to leave if you don't get what you want, you will probably come across even better, but don't hurt yourself by threatening to leave if you want to stay. 

Dear Sue: My boss's wife recently came to work in my department. She never has been especially friendly toward me, but lately she has become downright rude. It is interesting, however, that she is only rude to me when we are alone, and puts on a different face when we are with other people. 

I've always been able to find a professional way to address rude people at work, but I'm finding this situation especially difficult. I'm not easily offended, and have often joked that if you want to insult me you have to hit me twice, because I won't notice it the first time.

My boss is very professional, and always treats others with respect. If I approach him about this, I am sure I'll end up looking bad, especially since she has been very careful not to let anyone else see her in action. 

I've considered asking her if I've done something to offend her, but don't want to appear weak or whiny. I think this is a no-win situation, and I'm ready to look for another job. What do you think? 

- Disliked

Sue Says: She may be trying to force you to leave or she may feel you threaten her in some way. Perhaps she is jealous of your good nature or feels insecure about compliments her husband has made about you. You may never know the real reason for the way she treats you.

I think you need to say something to her. Without putting her on the defense, tell her that you wonder if you have said or done something to offend her, because since you have been working together, the two of you seem less friendly. 

Rather than accusing her or casting blame, assume responsibility for whatever is causing the distance. If she denies that anything is wrong, and things don't improve, then you will need to decide if you can continue to work with her or prefer to leave. Of course you always have the option of talking to your boss or asking to be transferred to another department. 

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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