That’s just how it works love

I recently found out that a man sitting next to me in the office, who reports to me directly, is being paid £20,000 more than I earn annually. It might sound crass, but my reaction to this news has materialised as the five stages of grief. Grief, quite possibly, for my withering sense of self-worth.

At first comes denial. Surely this is a misunderstanding. Though we have our differences, my media mogul managers and I share a fundamental passion for progressiveness and – do I even have to say it? – an aversion to blatant discrimination. The organisation is meant to be famous for it.

Then anger strikes. It’s raw and blinding. I’d heard stories about such cases – reported them to death, in fact – but never had I felt so ridiculed. I’ve just had a baby. I’ve been negotiating my return to work. My desk neighbour is undeniably excellent at his job. He’s an ambitious and diligent employee with admittedly a few more years of experience than me. He’s a leader in his field, but when hired, I was deemed senior enough – amply mature, responsible and talented – to commission him, edit him and perform all the other far more mundane tasks of management.

Perhaps on account of his stellar reputation within the industry, a pay gap is justified, but the sheer size of this particular chasm has burned my ego to a crisp.

If you’re in the business of managing talent then it’s common enough for real talent to be paid more than the management. Those who commission and subedit Polly, Simon Jenkins, Boris, Michael Gove even, are going to be paid less than they are. That’s just the way it works. Football managers are often paid less than their star players.

That’s just the way it works in talent businesses, those with it get more. Nowt to do with gender. Although this crisis this lack of knowledge on your part seems to have pushed you into might have something to do with gender.

38 thoughts on “That’s just how it works love”

  1. How it works in engineering too.

    Our highest paid employee takes home more than any manager and the business owners. He’s a very good pipe fitter / welder / site team leader who doesn’t mind working six days a week away from home, and doing loads of overtime hours.

    I’m the third in command in the place, and despite that, his hourly rate is more than mine as well, but he’s worth it to us, so I don’t really care.

  2. He can’t be that good if he’s only pulling in £20k more than this vacuous non-entity, in London to boot. He should demand a pay rise.

  3. There was a big hoohaa in 1980s when an employee was paid more than the chief executive. He was a salesman paid on commission.

  4. “I’ve just had a baby. I’ve been negotiating my return to work.”

    “admittedly a few more years of experience than me”

    “He’s a leader in his field”

    “I might be able to precariously leap back on to the speeding career treadmill”

    I have no idea while he is paid more.

  5. ‘We are being victimised by a culture of a pay secrecy that is wreaking havoc. I wish I had the courage to speak out’

    “It is better to remain silent and appear foolish, than to speak up and remove all doubt.” – Unk

    Status in the 21st century comes from victimhood. Feminazis are a symptom of the Culture of Victimhood. Anonymous – if that’s her real name – isn’t just wrong, she is sick, and should seek counseling.

  6. The author mentionsThe Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief. It has no emprical basis, it’s just claptrap peddled by counsellors.

  7. a culture of a pay secrecy that is wreaking havoc

    Havoc. Lol. Also note she doesn’t say what her salary is. That secrecy culture, I suppose.

    The Left’s two skills: presenting their selfish wants and desires as great social wrongs, and presenting themselves as perpetual victims despite having the power of putting their case in an international newspaper.

  8. “Six out of 10 employees don’t know that they have a legal right to have conversations with colleagues about pay if they think they are being discriminated against because of their gender.”

    “How much do you get paid, BoM4”
    “None of your beeswax, sugartits”

    The joy of being a freelancer is that you don’t see companies as a partner that you expect to treat you right. You’re a just a whore. You take the best deal every few weeks or months.

  9. [email protected]

    Too true!

    I always admired the building labourer who provided himself with a bigger hod, therefore shifting loads more bricks.

    He was paid a whole lot more of course!

    I think plasterers were paid even more, which is very relevant because it’s a very skilled trade!

    Funny these guys don’t take much notice of whinging victims in these circumstances!

  10. “I think plasterers were paid even more, which is very relevant because it’s a very skilled trade!”
    It’s one of the skills I have. But not one I’d easily own up to. It’s a f***ing awful job. You’re a robot spreading slop. Every wall & ceiling like every other wall &. ceiling.Your arms & shoulders ache & your hands crack up with cement burns. They earn every penny.

  11. What The Prole said. A Lead Process Engineer will often be paid more than the Engineering Manager, mainly because you need to be a lot smarter to be a Lead Process Engineer and you have to do more real work.

  12. Back in my last place of work two people – a man and woman – discovered they had near-identical experience, were doing the same job, but one was paid several percent more than the other.

    So, encouraged by recent HR campaigns, the man asked why he was paid less and said he wanted parity with his female colleague. After some umming and aahing, he got it.

  13. “perform all the other far more mundane tasks of management.”
    ‘Manager’ is a job, not a rank. Even in my humble career in IT, I have at times been paid more than the bloke who did my paperwork.

  14. There’s little better than some high quality Guardian stump-waving to kick off the New Year. Quite sets you up for the delights of the months ahead.

    And a Happy New Year to all. Except Teresa May, of course

  15. “‘Manager’ is a job, not a rank.”

    Not so; in plenty of corporations it’s a rank, as are Head, Director, and so forth.

    It must be half a lifetime ago since Director meant you were on the Board.

  16. @NDReader
    In a previous era of HR bollocks management was not a job it was “getting things done through *other people*” i.e. the manager didn’t actually do any work.
    I very thoroughly pissed off HR when my Head of Department (who outranked the HR guys/gals) put me in a role that involved some management as well as some actual work by getting a better performance out of my team while ignoring all their fashionable nostrums and axctually doing some of the work instead of just watching them work. After a few years I got promoted to a job that involved no management whatsoever but they still hated my guts.

  17. john 77 – I like your style.
    Yes some of the best managers I ever had would get involved in doing the work as well as managing others. OK maybe only an hour or two a day but when its your work they are doing its less backlog for you.

    And during their busy periods they’d still find time to keep up with what everyone was doing and problems encountered even if not able to take some stuff off us.

    Have also had managers that would not under any circumstances do non management stuff. You’d see them sit there doing nothing while staff were snowed under with work.

  18. Actually, the article is titled: somebody else ****EARNS**** 20K more than me. Yeah, and? Complaining that somebody does more than you is soooo whiney.

  19. I do feel for her.Get one chance to ask for more but our unconscious safety first minds often only permit a timid counter offer. And if too quickly accepted the seeds of doubt gnaw away with what ifs. (though she did more than most so well done) And so we get this grumble piece. And the journo school thing links it to death and grief. Yup you’re right crass would fit. Cringey’s better once its clear that she thinks the readership will chalk it up to outrageous discrimination without far (far) more details and context. My advice is to do an investigative piece. Tell us who Brian is shagging of your “media mogul managers” to get his cushy sinecure. And reveal yourself as an out and proud supporter of meritocracy and damn the consequences.

  20. Its amazing how many people think managing others *puts them in a different social class*. How do you get a job as a manager in an industry where managers are a dime a dozen and manage people with scarce technical skills/talent and not know that you’re going to be taking home less?

    Or, maybe, possibly, she’s not all that good at managing and is only assigned the people who don’t need much managing.

  21. “Its amazing how many people think managing others *puts them in a different social class*. How do you get a job as a manager in an industry where managers are a dime a dozen and manage people with scarce technical skills/talent and not know that you’re going to be taking home less?”

    It’s been a massive change in the past 20 years in a lot of business areas. I used to meet so many shit managers in software. People who really didn’t understand what was being built. But could put together presentations or collect the timesheets. They were paid more than the programmers to be glorified administrators.

    The arrival of email and software like Jira scrapped them, got rid of a whole load of bureaucratic management. See, apart from just creating too many graduates, there was a decline in those “graduate recruitment schemes” that fast-tracked people with no experience into management.

  22. Dennis the Peasant

    Further confirmation that “media” types are, for the most part, complete fools. This bimbo has not only clearly and concisely explained why the pay differential exists and why it is legitimate, she’s also probably provided enough information to be positively identified by her employer.

  23. As some have said above, this isn’t all about talent either, some employees are valuable to the business for other reasons – sometimes having a Big Name is enough, however meritoriously acquired; sometimes just having a particularly useful contact book. These traits might not be especially well-aligned with being given loads of responsibility, in fact if anything quite the reverse, so the pay packet may not be replicated by the position in the managerial hierarchy. When big firms hire the likes of ex politicians or military top brass with no relevant industry experience for megabucks, it’s hardly going to be because they want them making big complicated technically-informed decisions about the future of the company, nor do media organisations want their star names of pen or screen directing corporate strategy. So it’s not greatly surprising to see people making more money than their managers.

  24. When I went back in to corporate life it was in a client’s startup I helped them found, replacing a guy who’d been holding the position on an interim basis. As I’d been working on the long term organisation and salary structures I knew exactly how much he was paid.

    I took the role for just over 70% of what he was paid, which seemed reasonable because:

    He’d held senior and even more senior positions than me. This was my first time in such a senior role.

    He had to be tempted out of comfortable retirement to go back in to corporate fife. I still had a good 10 years or more of working life ahead of me. His “get out of bed” threshold was far higher than mine.

    I was still getting an effective 30% pay rise, more if I made my bonus targets.

    My total package was greater than my peers were getting. I needed that to tempt me out of consulting because I enjoyed consulting/contracting.

    There’s more to this compensation thing than a position in hierarchy.

  25. For 6 years in the 1970s, I was a manufacturing manager. Because of our union contract, I was expressly prohibited from touching anything.

    Unless accompanied by a represented employee. It was quite formal.

  26. She talks about the mundanity of management. So she knows it. But doesn’t know she knows it.

    I hate management. It’s a necessary evil in my career but I’ve got through it by doing as little as possible. I have found that recognising and trusting good people, whilst setting the right example myself (by spending 95% of my time *doing things*) works well.

    The things I do that I count as management are, by far, the lowest value things I do. FFS, I’m a highly qualified and experienced professional… what the fuck am I doing approving leave requests and expense claims? I’m embarsswd to be paid at all for that part of my day.

  27. In addendum… the best managers I’ve had and worked with have been the ones who saw things similarly. Those who think being a manager is a good thing which confers status have usually been awful. Exceptions noted for some seriously good Ops managers for whom dealing with cohorts of staff is a profession in itself.

  28. @gamecock

    “For 6 years in the 1970s, I was a manufacturing manager. Because of our union contract, I was expressly prohibited from touching anything.”

    This prohibition is now pretty universal in all workplaces I know.

  29. Surreptitious Evil

    what the fuck am I doing approving leave requests and expense claims? I’m embarsswd to be paid at all for that part of my day.

    But one of the axioms of reward is that people, generally, have to be paid more to put proper effort in to things that they find boring or un-interesting.

    Yes, it is trivial and probably not the most productive use of your time. But look at it from the point of view of the minions – who would they rather have approving their work admin? Somebody who understands who they are and what they do (and why they might have asked for something a little bit strange or are claiming some expense that looks a little odd?) Or some HR drone with immediate recourse to the 1pt print sub-text of the secret section of the Employee Manual?

    My biggest fight with HR on behalf of one of my team was to do with his fairly frequent 2 to 3 day absences because of very minor illness. He was a strict vegetarian (back when it was more difficult than it now is), with two young kids at different schools, and caught everything that was passing in either school or at the office. No problem, and he was often fit enough to do any urgent work at home, and I certainly didn’t want him in the office delivering plague to the rest of my team. They were all “Has exceeded this number of days off. Must have return to work interviews!”


    SE “Over the cold now?”
    Minion “Yes, I feel much better.”
    SE “Right, we’ve got quite a bit of new work in …”

  30. @SE

    You’re not wrong. Without having the right people to hand these things off to they’re probably best where they are. But it doesn’t have to be like that, surely?


    Get with the modern age, grandad.. it’s ‘People and Culture’ now.

  31. The Thought Gang – perhaps management should change.
    The actual managing – someone overseeing the work – be someone intimately familiar with the work, risen through the ranks. And still doing the work while overseeing other staff.

    The admin stuff – why pay someone a management salary to do basic minimum wage admin stuff?
    Have an admin person spread between multiple managers for doing the admin side of things with any conflicts passed to relevant manager to decide in seconds.
    eg annual leave booked – admin person OKs it unless too many want the same time in which case manager looks at it and decides who will have the time off or allow an exception.

    Last time I managed a team the admin was considerable because the manager I had over me was micromanaging – the stats collation every week took me a whole 8 hour day every week according to the book – reality was about 20 minutes as I used better processes and the stats was the one job the boss hated and wouldn’t touch.

  32. @ Martin
    Well said!
    When I was young there were Foremen and Chargehands, who were totally different. HR doesn’t believe in Chargehands – you and I do.
    The second of my two brief roles involving management I delegated the allocation of daily/weekly chores to the most junior member of my team: she did it admirably while I got on with our important work faster than she could have done.

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