I remember the first time I got a big pay rise… I freaked out! I thought “Oh my god, am I really worth this much money? What are they thinking? They will end up demoting or firing me when they realise I’m not delivering.”
Six months later I was humming: I was over-delivering and getting great feedback both internally and from customers. I had totally surprised myself — it felt perfectly natural to be making the money I was getting; I knew I was worth it.
Two things had happened:
- I had underestimated my worth, and
- When I (and the business) expected more of me, I delivered more.
Let’s dive into those two things in a bit more detail because they are the difference between The ‘Pottering Along in My Comfort Zone’ You and The ‘Meeting My Earning Potential’ You.
Firstly, I had underestimated my worth. This is very common — more common than you think. When I look back now, I can see that I was doing a fantastic job and I was very much worth a pay rise. In fact, I might have been worth more!
If you’re like I was, you probably put your head down and give your job your best. You try to do the right thing for customers and the business, even when it’s not necessarily your job. If you’re asked to do something that, supposedly, can’t be done, you try to find a way to make it happen. What you don’t do is spend time thinking about the value you bring to your employer. You don’t think about how much money you’re making for someone else. You don’t think about how you’re saving them money by creating better processes and delivering better customer service.
You see, we’re taught not to think this way. We’re taught to work hard and let society (or the boss) set our worth. We often think that if we’re worth a pay rise, we’ll be given one. That is just not true. The next time you think about your salary, don’t think you have to wait to be given a pay rise. Start thinking in terms of the value you bring the company and, in turn, how much the company should value you. And that, leads us to my next point…
We rise to the standards set for us. Think back to a time when you were put in a really difficult position — perhaps your car died on the way to a job interview, or your basement flooded during your busiest week at work. You handled it, right? When the situation arose, you dug deep and found a way to deal with it. The same thing happens with our jobs.
During the first week of your current job, were you worth the amount you were paid? No, of course not. You had an office orientation and your computer setup was set up for you. The company got very little value out of you when you first started. But it is a very different story now. If you get a pay rise, even one that you think it too much, you will rise to the occasion. You will want to deliver that extra value back to the company, so you’ll redouble your efforts. You’re actually helping your boss by asking for a pay rise because, when you get one, you will play a bigger game to prove you’re worth it.
I encourage you to start setting your ‘pay-worth’ from within. If you’re doing more than what you’re paid for and delivering more value to the company, it is time to ask for a pay rise!