You want to make more money, right? Of course you do, everyone does! The problem is, most people don’t actually know how to maximize their opportunity to earn (especially at their current job). And it’s not always obvious how to do it.
We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded by commercial messaging encouraging us to take a risk, invest in our own success, claw our way to the top of the food chain, and by all means – make more money! The people advocating change act as if improving one’s position in life is simple, and risk-free. But they’re dead wrong.
Change, in general, is neither easy or free. And an unsustainable short term improvement in one’s position will cost more than it’s worth.
Value Must Be Substantiated
Lets say that you’re working at a job and making $30,000 a year. You know your boss is happy with you, and you know you do better work than 90% of the people you work with, all of whom are earning about as much as you are. In fact, there may be a couple people earning a little more – and doing a worse job! DAMMIT! Doesn’t that piss you off?
Well, it shouldn’t. Let’s examine why:
- If you’re generally outperforming your peers, and costing the same amount of money, your job is as secure as it can be. If the company decides to let a few people go, you’ll be among the last.
- Those people you’re out-working who are getting paid more? Well, their names are at the top of the list to get rid of. After all, you make them look bad!
- In the grand scheme of things, you represent a ‘good value’. And that’s the most important thing you can be.
Why Value is King
Every decision you make represents a value choice. For example, where are you going to eat for lunch? If money was absolutely inconsequential to you, perhaps you’d have a world famous chef like Bobby Flay whip up an amazing meal! You would definitely enjoy it! Then again, it might cost you $100k to get him away from whatever he’s doing and fly him in to serve you personally.
And so, you might just head down to your local BarBQ joint and get something they’re serving to the masses. Will it taste as good? Heck no! But $10 vs $100,000 will get you something 90% as good. And at 1,000 times less – that represents a better value doesn’t it?
You probably made your car decision the same way. For $250,000 you can buy a hand-made exotic car. But for $25,000 you can still get something comfortable, quick and efficient. Good value.
Well, you may not be a car, or a piece of meat, but you’re being bought the same way.
Are You REALLY Worth It?
There is no doubt that you’ll be in situations in your life when you really are worth more than you’re being paid. But the important thing is to know how to determine if you’re actually at that point or not. Here are a few important questions you have to ask yourself.
- Can you directly substantiate the profitability you bring to the job? For example, if you mowed lawns for a company and you earn about $5 per lawn, but you know the company is charging $25 per lawn AND you know the costs of the rest of the business such that you can work out how much profit is being earned on your labor, that’s a good first step.
- How long would it take for someone to replace you? Absolutely everyone is replaceable. Even the CEO. The question is, how long would it take to find and train your replacement. If the answer is a month or less, you aren’t in a strong bargaining position. If you are highly skilled labor in a market short of people with similar skillsets, that works in your favor.
- How much risk are you willing and able to take? If you’ve got 5 mouths to feed, a spouse whose out of work, and a bunch of bills – you aren’t in a good position to negotiate. And your boss knows it! So even attempting to will compromise your security. Only if you can really project confidence about being able to leave, and doing so peacefully and on good terms, should you even begin to consider negotiating.
The question doesn’t always just boil down to dollars and sense. Other factors that can affect your ability to get more money include:
- What kind of personality do you have? Do you cheer everyone up around you and are you generally a delight to work with? Or are you an asshole?
- Interpersonal relationships. If the boss is sleeping with one of your co-workers, or related to them, you can rule that person out for comparison purposes. You could be 10 times better, but you’re still going to earn less. When you’re the boss you can do the same for your loved ones.
- The health of the company and the control of its directors. Yeah, yeah, your company is doing great! Really? Unless you are the CFO, you don’t know jack. The executive team will NEVER tell you how the company is really doing. Nor should they. But it will definitely affect whether you can get more money, or even if the Board will allow it to be considered for any employees.
- Direction the organization is going. You could be the best employee ever at what you do! But what if the company is focused on something else? You’re probably better off sitting tight, or looking for another company whose focus is on your current skillset. If your skillset is getting outdated, you need to update it!
That’s All Good, Now How Do I Ask for More Money?
The first thing you should do is remember all of those things I just pointed out that you don’t know. From here you can begin testing the waters to see if you can improve your position. The best way of doing that is by asking three simple questions:
- Hey [INSERT BOSS’ NAME], if you had to gauge my performance and experience at my current job, how would you stack rank me amongst the team?
- How do you feel about the company’s financial position and prospects for the future?
- How much longer do you think it will take before I see a substantial pay increase or the opportunity to move up in the ranks?
By the time you’ve asked these questions you’ll be able to fairly accurately answer most of the questions above that you were previously uncertain of. Plus, you’ll essentially be asking for a promotion without actually putting your boss on the spot.
You’re clearly demonstrating that you are thinking about your future and considering your options. And if you are valuable to the company, if your boss recognizes it, and if they have the power to do something about it, you will have put pressure on them to take action. If your boss asks you what’s behind all this, just tell them, “I had someone approach me about another position that paid more, so it got me thinking.”
And that’s not a lie, because that’s what I’m doing to you right now! ;-)
So, what do you think? Are you worth more money? And have you actually tried to get at it – if so, how?