my company cut our pay after we met our goals and says we shouldn’t be upset — Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work in a position that is the butt of a sales organization. I don’t mind it, but I don’t make a ton and deal with a lot of nonsense.

On Thursday, they called a meeting for me and the six other people or so in my position and spent 30 minutes telling us how bad the economy is, how bad sales currently are, and how our team “loses money for the company.”

But that isn’t true. We surpassed our goals, even the lofty one investors didn’t think we would hit (which included doubling our revenue in a single calendar year). It was not a small feat. All because of my team and another team we work with.

I thought they would perhaps restructure our plan but they just straight-up cut our pay, equivalent to about $3-6k per year, which is not a small amount of money!

They were too afraid to tell us as a group, so they pulled us aside individually. We all checked with each other after and we all got the same exact pay cut.

Whenever we try to speak to our bosses about it, they just tell us it’s normal for goals to change every year. But none of us are upset about the goals changing, we’re upset about being paid less for more work.

When I confronted my boss about it, she told me it’s only $250 a month. But we’re not even paid well to start with! If it is only $250 a month, then why did they remove it at all if it’s such a small amount of number to her? We’re already paid $10k below the industry average for our position.

All our bosses got promotions and raises because we hit our goals. They also told us the pay cut was to ensure that we did not have to fire anyone, but as recently as new year’s, they hired another person for a position we weren’t even hiring for — he’s a friend of the boss.

Furthermore … the entire company got bonuses, some deep into the five figure range. The reason given is because the sales team exceeded their goal. We were excluded from this bonus. It was paid out the same day our pay cuts were announced.

I don’t have a single drop of motivation to ever put any extra effort in this job ever again. Is this normal? I feel like I’m going crazy. They’re gaslighting us, right?

I feel like my trust has been violated. Our bosses kept telling us we would cool down after a few days, but today is day 3 and I’m probably angrier than I’ve ever been. Sales involves dealing with things outside of work hours, doing a lot of research effort on my own, and we don’t really have anyone supporting us and we took a pay cut. It’s beyond a slap in the face.

I feel like they are using the recent large layoffs to scare us, but we aren’t those companies. They paid out bonuses and gave promotions, while cutting our pay.

Just tell me this isn’t normal? And what should I be doing moving forward? Most of us want to quit but our bosses are trying to proceed like everything is normal. Our output cut by almost 70% since the announcement, but I know some people are going to go back to normal because they don’t have any other choice. But I don’t want to.

It’s not normal, and it’s not okay.

Your company is lying to you, and your managers are trying to confuse you about what’s really happening.

To be clear, there are times when companies genuinely do need to cut pay. It’s a really big deal, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Generally companies that have to do that understand it’s a big deal and risks destroying morale, and they’d usually try to be more thoughtful about the optics of cutting pay at the same time that they’re awarding bonuses, creating a position for the boss’s friend, or giving your managers promotions and raises because the team getting its pay lowered hit their goals.

It’s also BS that when you’re upset about a pay cut (which is a very normal thing for people to be upset about, even in circumstances where it’s necessary), they’re responding by telling you it’s normal for goals to change. They’re intentionally missing the point so they don’t have to engage with what you’re actually saying.

So yes, it is both normal and reasonable that you’ve lost your motivation to put in extra effort for this job. People put in extra effort when they trust their company. They stop doing that when they see their company is screwing them over. They really stop doing it when they see that extra effort not only won’t be rewarded but will be met with slashed pay.

As for what to do: Look around and see what else is out there. Meanwhile, it’s smart to do enough to keep your job, but they’ve clearly signaled that there’s no value in doing more than that.

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