So What Makes YOU so Valuable?

dollarAre you valuable to your employer?  When I ask this question, most people  would say “Yes, I am valuable to my employer”, and many would be right. Some may tend to believe they are more valuable to others than they really are, while others may not realize their true value. We all want to think we add value. But what is value?  What does that mean? All employees’ matter of course, but the question I am asking is about value, and not importance.

Over the past few decades I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of people.  I have worked with some amazing people.  They bring a great deal of value to the workplace and are major contributors to the success of the business. I am grateful for the staff and owe a debt of gratitude for all their hard work and commitment to helping us succeed.  Every business relies on these champions, and my company is no different.

Reflecting back, I have also worked with many that brought little or no value to the success of the business.  Unfortunately in today they seem to outnumber the champions.  And then there are those who take from the business … they would have a negative value. Grrrrr, don’t get me started.

There is a difference between “quality of a person” and “value of an employee”.  I have met many terrific people who contribute to the world and are wonderful people. But they brought little value to our workplace.  Some were good people just in the wrong industry. Some were trying to take on responsibilities they were not qualified to do, and others just simply were not willing to put forth the effort to add value.

Entitlement

Unfortunately there is another group of people in the world that are a bit more challenging than the groups listed above.  There are those who are emotionally broken and find it very difficult to see the world through any other lens but their own distorted pair.

When a person becomes desperate or stressed sometimes something gets triggered that can send them into a state of self-preservation.  They begin to go into survival mode and become blind to others needs and how others see them in this state.  A sense of entitlement takes over as they focus on how much they have done for others and how little they have received in return.. They may believe they are much more valuable to their employer than what the employer or teammates know to be true.  They may express their feelings of being under appreciated or take a more passive agressive approach. They tend to justify doing less or helping themselves to “added benefits” because they feel underpaid anyway so they are just “evening the score”.  Sometimes even when their work is suffering thay can have a puffed up distorted perspective of their value to the company. Usually by this time the writing is on the wall.  You have likely worked with a person like this.

I am defining “value” in this article as the level a person contributes toward the success of a company, relative to their cost to the company.

People find reward by what we do in many different ways. Satisfaction of adding value to others is one of the most valuable rewards you can experience.  It can go a long way toward feeling fulfilled, but it doesn’t tend to replace the need for meaningful financial gain.  We all have responsibilities and needs that require making the most of our efforts.

Let’s Make a Deal

Most of us have had an experience with some kind of negotiation.  In some cultures people haggle over the value of a peach or banana.  We haggle over the value of a car or a house. We comparison shop all the time. The value message is everywhere.  It’s the backbone of capitalism. We do this because the whole idea is to get as much value as you can for the lowest possible cost to you. It would be poor stewardship to pay more than we need for an item.  Indeed, that is true.

In the job market, more experience, talent, education and a polished curb appeal leads to higher compensation. You are trying to make what you have already accomplished count for as much as possible. You want to get as much compensation for your future efforts as you can as long as you can deliver the goods. This is how it is, and should be.

The Change of Allegiance

Once you have chosen your position in the workplace and begun working, your allegiance changes. Or at least it should.  If it doesn’t you are certain to remain at odds.

If you continue to put your needs above the company making sure you are paid more than what you are worth, there is a simple way to cut to the chase.  Just do less.  Unless you work on commission, your rewards are sure to outweigh your efforts if you just do less.  As shortsighted as this seems, it really is the domanat approach in our country, unfortunately.

Bad work ethic

Do as little as you have to instead of as much as you can.  This is the simplest way to make sure you are compensated more than what you are worth. If you really want to get creative, do less, threaten to leave, and ask for more money.  The bottom of the workforce lives by the mantra “Do just enough, make what you can and take what you need.”   Unfortunately our government has created an environment where sometimes people are incentivized to work less to receive more.

That sounds crazy but I’ll bet it struck a chord with you.  Either you have been there and done that or have been affected by people like that.  There are people that make deposits in this world and there are people who make withdrawals. You can figure out who adds more value to their own lives, career and their community.

In our company we call this the 60/90 effect.  If you allow someone to work at 60%, they most likely will.  They’ll do “as little as they have to”.  If you expect them to work at 90% they may.  Only if inspired, will people do “as much as they can”.  I have yet to find an exception to this including myself.

Value Defined

costIf we define employee value as “the level a person contributes toward the success of a company, relative to their cost to the company.” then we also need to flush that out and address a major misconception.

If you wish to experience success you need to be worth more to your employer than what you are paid.  What? That doesn’t sound right!  You want me to make less than I am worth?  Hang with me here pilgrim.

Someone who outperforms their compensation will raise their leverage and keep their services in high demand.  When your compensation catches up to your value through competitive demand, it’s vital that you continue to strive to increase your worth to show that you are a worthy investment to your employer. If your employer believes their return on investment with you has become too costly, you may be asked to renegotiate your current agreement, or worse, you may become expendable.

“You need to be worth more to your employer than what you are paid”

The Golden Rule of Adding Value

If you wish to expect someone to contribute to the value of your company, you first need to contribute to the value of their life. People who feel more valued have more value.  It’s funny how we as humans will run through walls for someone who runs through a wall for us.  To the degree that a person adds value to you is the degree that you will go above and beyond your compensation and enjoy doing so.

The flipside to this is also true.  If you are an employee and you wish for your employer to recognize you and increase your compensation.  There is really only one way to do so.  Raise your value in the eyes of everyone around you.  Become more valuable to your employer. Don’t try to appear more valuable, be more valuable.  Contribute more to the bottom line and make his/her job easier.  Be exactly what they need for you to be in order for them to reach their goals and levels of success that is expected of them.  Sometimes that means doing more, sometimes it means doing less of the meaningless things, and more of the important things. Sometimes it’s adjusting your values or learning a new skill or perfecting an existing skill.  It always requires effort; it always comes at a price.

“If you are an employee and you wish for your employer to recognize you and increase your compensation.  There is really only one way to do so.  Raise your value… “

As an employer, I can say without a doubt that the people who embrace this perspective create their own opportunities.  They flourished in their development and value to the company and in their value in the job market. If they increase their value and become a greater influence, compensation and opportunity will naturally increase. This is true.  It’s the law of supply and demand.   If it doesn’t happen, you have not really added value as you believe you have, or you are working for the wrong company and need to explore your options.

What are you worth?

Your market value is not what you believe you are worth. If I could determine what my efforts are worth, I would set it at a thousand dollars per hour, or $500 per pizza.  Unfortunately for me it doesn’t work like that.  It’s the people that are paying for what you bring to the table that need to decide what they are willing to pay you. The more you actually bring to the table the more valuable you are to others. It’s not how much time you put in or how well you know your job or how good you can convince others you are, it’s how much value you actually bring to the organization above and beyond your potential replacement in light of your current compensation. That’s your market value, nothing more, nothing less.

Good News!

You may not realize this, but employers are willing to pay more money than you currently make, to people with more value than you currently have.  That is great news!  That means all you have to do is increase your value to make more money.

You are completely in control of your income potential.  You can choose to stay the same and continue with a similar wage, if that is what you value.  Or if you desire a higher standard of living you can choose to invest in personal growth, adjust your allegiance to excellence, raise your value and be compensated for your efforts.  You are the captain of your ship, not your environment, not the person signing your check.  No one is holding you back, but you.

“…employers are willing to pay more money than you currently make, to people with more value than you currently have…That means all you have to do is increase your value to make more money.”

Your potential for raising your income is 100% up to you and not limited to external factors.  It’s not up to your boss, it’s not up to the government, and it’s not due to bad luck, the economy or your upbringing.  It’s up to YOU to change you.

The Pareto Principle (80/20) says that the top 20% of the people share 80% of the rewards.  This means that the bottom 80% is left dividing up the remaining 20% of the rewards.  You can guess which group is committed to raising their value by doing “as much as they can”, and which group is okay with doing “as little as they have to”.

So how do you raise your value in the workplace?

The five steps to raising your value in the workplace.

  1. Know what is expected of you – Find out what is required to be great at what you do, know what your benchmark of excellence is according to your employer or clients, then study it and adopt it as your own. Own it!
    • Have an uncompromising target – Don’t redefine excellence according to you or others if it gets too hard. Don’t compare yourself with others. Keep your eye on the target.
    • Have an accurate target – If you don’t know exactly what is expected of you, find out.
    • Have a worthy target – Find out what the best in the industry do, and then do what they do. Be the best at what you do.
  1. Personal Growth – Grow yourself daily. People are willing to pay you more now, if they know you will be worth more down the road.
    • Be teachable and ask lots of questions. Learn from the experts and allow others to add value to you.
    • Accept and ask for constructive criticism. Don’t be easily offended and proud. Pride subtracts from your value.
    • Make yourself great, don’t just reach the goal. Become a person who naturally does the goal.
    • Learn how things work – Seek first to understand then to be understood. Listen more and speak less.
    • Take responsibility – Make no excuses and blame no one else for your difficulties.
    • Fail often – Own your failure, learn from them, and grow faster.
  1. Alignment – If you wish to be more valuable, make sure that your values line up with the values of the organization. If they don’t, find somewhere that does.
    • Represent the organization with integrity and class at all times.
    • Protect the brand and reputation of the organization.
    • Take pride in your organization and be part of something bigger than you.
    • Work toward interdependance and synergy. Not independance and individualism.
    • Don’t out think your superiors, trust the system and commit to the them. If it’s a bad system, you are in the wrong place.
  1. Results – Finish the job, reach the finish line and excel past expectations.
    • If you proclaim what you are capable of, then do it. Show that you are what you say.
    • Commit yourself to the desired outcomes. No one completes a task without a commitment.
    • Don’t try harder – Reject the “Try Harder” approach. It implies that effort is more important than outcomes.
    • Less is not more – Don’t show you can do what you are getting paid to do. Show you can do more than what you are getting paid to do. By doing so you may get even more to do and paid even more to do it.
  1. Leadership – Leading your self is most important. But if you have the ability to influence others, you will multiply your value by infusing your abilities into others.
    • Leadership raises the value of everyone around them, thus raising your value.
    • Leadership is influence and has exponential growth. It multiplies your efforts rather than just adding to them.
    • Leadership is much harder to find, thus putting you in higher demand to others.
    • Leadership brings solutions to world of problems, and order to a world of chaos.
    • Leadership raises the lid of your potential, and gives you financial leverage.

A Few Questions About Tolerance.

toleranceThe Tolerance Myth?

  • What is it that we should tolerate?
  • Should we tolerate someone else’s version of Good?
  • Should we tolerate someone else’s version of Good, even when we believe it to be Evil?
  • Who should we tolerate?  Everyone?
  • Should we tolerate those who don’t tolerate Evil?
  • Should we tolerate those who DO tolerate Evil?
  • Should we tolerate those who don’t tolerate others?
  • If indeed I don’t tolerate those who don’t tolerate others, does that make me intolerant?  Have I become what I despise?
  • If I DO tolerate those who don’t tolerate others, am I just reinforcing their intolerance by tolerating it?
  • If it does make me intolerant, should I expect others to tolerate me in my intolerance?
  • Should I even tolerate myself?

Do you see the insanity in this?  Just admit it, everyone is intolerant, EVERYONE!  Some just don’t like it pointed at them.

Grace trumps tolerance every time. Show grace and respect others but don’t value their opinion over truth. 

Be strong and stand up for truth, don’t hide behind tolerance to avoid offending someone, or being offended. 

Truth is offensive to those who don’t believe it, and loved by those who do.

Tolerance is good when it’s used as a lubricant to get along in spite of different beliefs, but it’s not to be used to make any or all beliefs equally valid. They are not, otherwise no one would ever be wrong, misunderstood, mistaken about anything.

Refuse to tolerate anything but truth, no matter what it costs you. Then have the wisdom to know when to speak and when not to.

Be patient with those with differing opinions and give grace to those who are offensive to you. If you don’t believe there is a source of universal truth, you just haven’t found it yet, or don’t want to.

Intelligent feedback only, I won’t tolerate stupidity. JK…no really, put your big boy pants on. Don’t come to this table if you can’t tolerate this message.

How Rock Music Shaped my Mind

“…If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”  Jimi Hendrix

I remember back in 1977, I was nine years old swimming at the YMCA with my friend Brad. The lifeguard had a radio in the pool area and the song “Come Sail Away” by Styx came on the radio.  It soon became my favorite song that year.  I gathered up $10, got my Mom to take me to Musicland at the Muscatine Mall and bought my first album of my life. That day set the course for the next 15 years. Musicland went out of business years later, but I assure you it wasn’t my fault.

By the time I was in my late teens I had 300 albums or tapes of so many Rock bands.  I spent most of my money on Rock music.  I was  young, impressionable, and adventurous. Music made the perfect conduit for learning about the world. Somehow, in my mind the Rock stars were the real leaders of the free world.  They had it all figured out.

Back in the 80’s there was a radio program on Monday nights at 10:30 called Rock Line with a guy named Bob Coburn.  Bob would have rock bands live in the studio for interviews, album previews, and live acoustic performances. I never missed it. Their lives seemed so interesting to me.  They were so free and uninhibited.  They appeared to have life by the tail.

I began learning so many great lessons from these guys and gals. Sammy Hagar taught me the importance of responsible driving. David Lee Roth showed me how to treat women and Pat Benatar taught me what she will do if anyone treats her like that. It was enlightening (sarcasm implied).

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Over the years I listened to so much rock music that I began absorbing the values and worldview of that culture.  I soon became a follower of this worldview.  The lyrics on the inside of all the collective albums became my scripture. My Sony Walkman became my sanctuary and the concert stage became my place of worship.

I used to spend many hours listening to my tunes with my headphones.  Every individual note from each instrument came alive. When I was in High School I bought a kickin’ car stereo with quadrophonics (early surround sound).  I would listen to the beat and patterns and notice how they all worked together to create one unified vibe. Live albums were especially mesmerizing because the sound was so rich and full.  It makes you feel like you were there sitting in the middle of the stage with musicians all around you. There is a reason vinyl is making a come back.

When we zone into a source of influence like music, we can get engulfed in our own imagination.  Music taps into a universal emotional need.  You  begin to feel what they feel and relate to their story.  You can get lost in an alternate reality sometimes if you let your mind go. It became my drug.

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.”
― Alphonse de Lamartine

In a time I was looking for answers, Rock music gave me guidance and direction.  Here are a few of the life principles I came to foolishly embrace when I was a teenager.

• Life is short so make sure you have fun while you can.

• Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life.  Live life on your terms.

• When you are feeling down and depressed, sex can make it all better.

• If you let me down, I am outa here. Commitments aren’t necessary.

• If it feels right, it can’t be wrong. Live for the moment.

• Beauty and wealth determine your social value.

• Freedom is more important than responsibility.

• Love stinks, life sucks!

• It’s all about the thrill of the chase.

• I am invincible. Live free or die trying.

• When life gets hard, you can always take off and start over somewhere else.

• If we have love, that’s all we need.

Ideas have consequenses. Of course there is something fundamentally wrong with each of these ideas.

When you are young and impressionable this worldview can be quite intoxicating. I believed these ideas because I wanted to.  I could have blamed my parents, or the culture, or the lack of a moral foundation in my life.  The truth is I embraced it because it met an immediate need. It gave me permission to think and behave how I want. It’s easy to buy into a Rock worldview. It lines up with most of the things you want to believe in anyway.

Music was my hiding place, but no matter how much music I would buy it was never enough to calm my restless soul.  There was definitely something missing. The more I looked to the culture for answers the more missing pieces within I became aware of.

Everyone has a longing to make deep connections. I connected through music, or at least listening to it.  I never learned an instrument and lack talent for singing. I was a bit  reserved when I was young. It was easier to connect with famous musicians who could not see me, judge me, or needed to know anything about me.

In 1991, after years of making a mess of my life, I realized that there was something flawed with the way I saw the world. My music mentors led me down the wrong path time and time again and I had come to the end of myself.  My heart ached from disappointment and from the weight of my own foolishness. I had to finally face the truth about myself, and somehow, let go of my flawed worldview.  I surrendered my life to Christ and traded lyrics with real scripture from the Bible. I took nearly all my albums and tossed them in a dumpster. My entire worldview changed. I begun to see the world through a completely different set of lenses. I was born-again.

I got rid of my music. I wasn’t because this music was bad (some, actually much of it was).  It was because it held a place in my heart that meant to be occupied by my Creator.  Music was an idol.  I needed a new start with a renewed focus. I needed a much better worldview that didn’t leave me empty and confused without answers.

Music doesn’t shape my worldview anymore.  I find inspirational music (secular or Christian) encourages me. I helps to reinforce my new worldview, but it is no longer an idol. Any kind of music even worship or praise music can be an idol if you value it higher than your Creator.

You may still catch me singing to a classic hit from time to time, but there is something different now.  I feel like I am on the outside looking in. Like I am visiting an old friend that I still admire but whom no longer has any control over me. I am much more discerning now about what I listen to.  The void I used to have is no longer.

Has your culture shaped your worldview?  I would love to hear your story.