Compared to Tuesday, I had a more relaxed day today, so I can make good on my promise and tell you about the final meeting I had that day.
It has to do with my writing job over at facebook. I have talked about Kyotogram before: Since last November, I am writing very short articles about Kyoto and Japan, the important thing is the photo attached and not the text. In one week I have to produce 5 posts and attend one meeting, all that for a fixed salary. Besides the big boss and the team leader, there is a graphics designer on the team and another freelance writer like me, and we both get the same salary since we have the same contract.
Two weeks ago I initiated a meeting with the big boss and told him pretty much straightforward that I wanted a raise. The reason for this was that every time there’s a special or urgent job to be done, I am asked to do it – because my writer colleague is, let’s say, not quite as reliable as I am. She has now taken part in about half the meetings only, and ever since Christmas, her performance has gone downhill. And in February, out of 4 meetings and 20 posts, she did 1 meeting and 2 articles, an all time low. It’s not that her lack of productivity is directly affecting me, thank goodness, but since the big boss has talked about “fairness” when I signed the contract, I thought I’d ask him whether he still believes in that one.
Of course, I tried to avoid dissing my colleague (her work ethic is none of my business, and in fact she is a very nice girl), and we had a very constructive talk of about an hour in which the big boss assured me that everybody is very happy with my performance, and that the rest of the team relies on me, and that he was “aware of the situation” as he put it. And that he couldn’t say anything right now, but he would get back to me by the end of the month.
Fast forward two weeks: Since the end of the month is now, we had another one hour talk on Tuesday, after our regular meeting. Actually, both of us writers had what the big boss called a “six months review meeting”, and the outcome was as follows: The contracts for both of us will be renewed, but there will now be a new penalty for underachievement: Every meeting not attended will – literally – cost 3000 YEN, every unwritten post 1500 YEN.
Having a penalty like this is extremely unusual in a freelance contract; normally, you are paid for the specific work you do, and only for that; and the more you work, the more you earn. I am not sure why the contract wasn’t changed to this model altogether, probably because the big boss is on a limited budget, but I am not complaining. Because, no matter what the new contract says: I got my raise! Of course, “fairness” is still an important word in the whole thing, and the big boss has amended my contract by giving me additional responsibilities (which I have partly already fulfilled) so he can also officially justify that I earn more than my colleague.
I had a very pleasant talk with the big boss on Tuesday where I assured him that in normal circumstances I would not have dreamed of asking for more money, that this was simply prompted by the lack of performance on my colleagues’ side and his “fairness” argument. In return, he stressed several times that it is very, very rare in Japan indeed that a raise is given without any further discussion like it was in my case. And he also insinuated that there’s no room for further improvement for the time being, which is perfectly fine with me.
In conclusion, as I never had a “decent” job, so to speak (academia has fixed payment schemes), this was my very first salary negotiation! And I have learned the following:
If you go to your boss after a mere 5 months of employment and demand a 15% raise, and he just hands it over without any further negotiation or even comment,
a) he is really, really extremely happy with your performance and
b) you probably should have asked for more…