10. Nov, 2015

WHAT ARE WE WORTH?

WHAT ARE WE WORTH?

Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad Retired HR Practitioner 

While I was in active employment as a HR Director I often wished I had a dollar for every time people complained to me that they were not paid what they were worth. I wanted to retire rich. Almost everyone, regardless of income, education or position, believes that he or she should be earning more money. People at minimum wage obviously want to make more, but people at the highest levels also want more.

I knew that on one hand, the belief that we are “entitled” to more compensation speaks well for us as individuals. We possess strong self-worth and self-esteem and believe we should be highly compensated for who we are. On the other hand, too often our expectations are not founded on the realities of the marketplace or on our ability to “earn” our income based on performance. Often we want more but do not deserve that rightly.

I found an effective way to do ask for more. I put my accomplishments into three parts.

First, I defined the problem, situation or challenge in about two or three sentences.

Second, in a bulleted format, I showed step-by-step how I would solve the problem or accomplished the task.

Finally, in a results paragraph, I described how my accomplishment was a benefit to the organization.

I used the best quantitative results wherever possible and defined it in strong qualitative terms. During my annual performance review, I presented my written accomplishments to my boss or bosses.

I knew at all the time that it was really tough to argue with well-documented performance. Odds were that I would get my raise or promotion. If I failed in my pursuit I then went out to find a Mentor.

I believed that it was invaluable to have someone within my organization fighting for my success. Therefore, it was not as difficult to find a mentor as some people would like to think. It just took my courage to ask.

At times I tried some simple approaches like the following to get the support of my Mentor or Mentors:

I would go to my prospective mentor and say, “I have always admired and respected what you have done for the company and the success you have achieved. As I grow in this job and in my career, I was wondering if, on occasion, you would be willing to give me some advice and guidance on how I might achieve success as well”

In my many years of work as an educator, administrator and director it was rare that anyone ever said “NO” to such a nice comment and question.

I gave it a try on a few occasions and the rewards were immense. But I continued to further skill and re-skill myself.  Further education and gaining appropriate knowledge turned out to be the most powerful tool of my life.

My father had convinced me that I could never have too much education and I was never too old to learn. Invariably my continuing education opened a lot of doors for me to many new job opportunities, promotions and pay raises.

After school, I went to a college and then graduated with a degree. I kept learning while working and my Mentors helped me find my future.  But I also knew that my education did not have to be in college or universities. I was even prepared to take trade courses, training seminars, or simply conduct independent research and study. I have never regretted it because I was able to stay employable and contemporary.

I firmly believed that if I was “out of date” and “out of touch” with what was happening in the world, then my earning power would have gone “out the door”.

From science and technology advances, to current world news of competition, to the latest business demands, to the cultural, political and social fashion trends, they were all relevant to me. So by being able to effectively and efficiently communicate about what was happening all around me, I naturally enhanced my value and become more marketable. I never failed to perform beyond the expectations of my superiors.

I always did more than I was asked to do and took initiative to achieve superior results and made unexpected contributions. I must say that I was recognized and rewarded for it. Then asking for the raise or promotion did not bother me because they came to me naturally.

Now that I have retired I thought I might pass on some ideas to the new generation of workers. I firmly believe that if you have done your “homework,” meaning you have followed all the steps above and established your value through exceptional performance, continued education and preparing your case and presenting  it to your boss or bosses, you will be amazed at how often your initiative will totally launch your career in a new direction.

Let me conclude that the opportunities to earn “what you are worth” are out there, but it is up to you to seek them out. Your goals and expectations must be realistic – based on your core values and contributions. If you are motivated and dedicated to achieving extraordinary performance, there is no limit to what you can earn. I have retired rich enough to live.

November 2015.