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Performance Evaluations Raises Money Motivation Fairness Satisfaction Titles

At my evaluation, I received a minimal raise, but I did get a better title. I am unhappy with the raise, and a new title doesn’t mean much. I was afraid this would happen because I heard my manager say that employees prefer titles over money. Is he right?

Your manager has oversimplified an important issue, and that is simply unfair. On the one hand, there is research showing that employees may indeed opt for a better title over a raise, especially a small raise. The reason is that self-image, self-esteem, and even self-definition can be enhanced by an upgraded title.

However, this is not a hard and fast rule. For this to happen, the employees must sense that they are already being fairly rewarded for their work. If they sense that their pay is inequitable, an inflated title in lieu of pay is going to be viewed as a manipulative insult.

In addition, a great deal depends on the amount of the raise itself. There are some raises that are so small, and some titles that are so grandiose, that many employees would automatically prefer the better title. And the converse also applies, as there are cases in which substantial raises will trump a better title every time.

It is important to emphasize that employees have their own individual needs, and titles and raises have different meanings for different individuals. It sounds like your manager is using titles to rationalize low raises, and that is not a rational step to take.

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