Be very careful when boss doesn't keep her promises

You did it -- marched into your boss' office and asked for a raise, or more responsibility, or a change in company policy or procedure. And your boss didn't fire you, or even ask how you dared to be so troublesome and unappreciative, so downright uppity.

Instead, she actually told you what a good job you do, what a loyal employee you are, how valuable you are to the company! "We want to keep employees like you happy. You're the backbone of this organization," she said.


"You're absolutely right about this. We need to know when problems like this exist. I'll get on this right away. You'll be hearing from me."

You managed to stay cool, shake hands and thank her for her time. Then you walked sedately back to your desk, instead of doing what you really wanted to do, which was dance around the room and whoop with relief and self-congratulations.


It was the beginning of a new era, this all-important meeting. You were sure of it.

But while time hasn't dimmed the glory of that day, it hasn't produced the results your boss promised, either. Your raise hasn't come through. Or the changes your boss promised haven't been implemented -- or mentioned -- again.

Your boss was charming the first time you stood up for yourself, but she may not be so charming the next time, especially if you're reminding her of unkept promises. No one likes to be reminded of these, after all.

So how do you hold someone accountable who's in a position of authority over you? When does quiet insistence begin to sound like nagging? And how do you draw the line between being a wimpette and being a nuisance, a nag and a thorn in the boss' side?

Carefully. Very, very carefully.

Only you know your particular boss' personality and the personality of your company, but in situations like these, it's usually a good idea to invest some time in self-evaluation and information-gathering before you take action.

Ask yourself how you usually react to situations like these. Do you often become impatient, assume the worst, fly off the handle or take things too personally? If so, check your calendar to be sure it's been as long as you think it's been since the original promise was made.

If you tend to let things slide, hope for the best, wait and see, and avoid confrontations of any kind, on the other hand -- and even you are coming to the end of your rope -- it's probably time to make a move.


Next, check to be sure there isn't a valid reason for this delay. Has the situation changed? Has there been a corporate crisis of some kind? Has your boss been out of town, or ill, or is this a particularly busy time?

Find out how long it usually takes between the promise of a raise and its implementation, as well. When changes are made in your company's procedures or policy, do they usually take place without delay, or only after dozens of meetings and zillions of memos in triplicate?

If you've gathered as much information as you can and feel it's time to make a move, a carefully phrased note -- one that's a request for information, not an accusation -- is a good place to start.

Something like: "I know how busy you are, but I haven't heard anything about my request for a raise (promotion, transfer, change in procedure, whatever) since our meeting on (such-and-such a date), and would very much appreciate an up-date."

It may take your boss a week or two to get back to you, but at this point you do deserve a reply of some kind. If you don't get one, it may be time to move up the corporate ladder, one step at a time, until you receive the information you need about this delay -- and perhaps time to start researching your employment options elsewhere, as well.