Big spenders but no raises? Fire up resume

Q. Employees in our small company have been told that we will get no raises because sales have dropped off. However, the three owners keep spending money like there's no tomorrow. These men drive company cars costing over $100,000 apiece, take their wives and girlfriends to Europe at company expense, and pay big bucks for a VIP box at the stadium. They tell us to cut back, yet they keep flaunting their spending. Do they think we won't notice the double standard? No money for us, but plenty for them. Most employees think the owners are lying about low sales to avoid giving raises. Can we do anything to stop this or should we just leave?

Smart managers know that unhappy, resentful employees are not good for business, so they try to treat people fairly. But these guys are either completely clueless or motivated solely by personal gain.

If sales are indeed declining, their excessive spending is reckless and short-sighted. However, it's their money, so they're free to squander it as foolishly as they wish.

Pointing out their extravagance will sound like personal criticism and could be hazardous to your career. If you decide to take that risk, approach the owner who seems most open to feedback. In your comments, minimize complaints and maximize business concerns.

For example: “I thought you might like to know that some employees don't believe that business has actually slowed down. Raises were canceled, but there still seem to be a lot of extra management expenses. This has had such a negative effect on morale that some people have talked about quitting.”

In fact, leaving for a better-managed business might not be a bad idea. If the owners continue to fritter away the profits, this small company could disappear altogether.

Q. After six months on the job, I was given a raise for good performance by the department manager. However, my immediate supervisor still treats me as though I just started work. He seems to think I'm stupid. How do I deal with this?

The department manager would not have given you a raise unless your supervisor recommended it. So your boss must be pleased with your work.

His behavior is a reflection of his own leadership style, not your ability or intelligence. Cautious supervisors often try to prevent errors by closely monitoring new employees.

Although six months seems like a long time to you, you're still a newbie to your boss. If you're patient and continue to do good work, eventually he'll loosen up on the reins.

Remember that “managing up” is key to success in any job, so try to develop a good relationship with your supervisor. If you view him as an irritation, he might start to view you as a problem.