How to Earn a Raise…From a Manager’s Perspective, Part IV

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

Find a Problem

It is important to understand what it takes to add value to your organization. In college as an intern I had a conversation about this with a colleague named Ryan. I was making an hourly wage and said I wanted to make sure I was working on projects that would return value equal to my wage every single hour. “Wow, I never thought of it that way. That is a good approach,” replied Ryan. I felt like such a responsible steward of the company’s money at the time. I later learned that approach was not nearly good enough.

Your employer pays more than just your wages for the privilege to employ you. They also have to pay for taxes, insurance, benefits, office space, equipment, supervision and administration, as well as costs for hiring and training you. It is not uncommon for the total cost of an employee to be more than double the base wage.

Time for a reality check. Do you create more value for your organization than you cost?

The answer has to be yes if you want to earn a raise. So with the newly acquired time you freed up from the last step in the process, you are going to solve a problem that ensures you create more value for your organization that the cost to employ you. Not just any problem will work. You need to choose wisely. Here are five suggestions to consider when choosing a problem:

  1. The problem should fit with your skill set or be within your capability to solve

Do not set yourself up for failure with your problem selection. For example, it would be a bad idea to try to create a financial analysis software package if you don’t know how to write code and have never read a financial statement. Choose a problem where you can showcase your strengths.

2. The problem should challenge and excite you

It may take several months to solve your problem. Make sure you pick something interesting and challenging enough to keep you engaged through the duration of the project. The more excited you are about solving the problem, the better the outcome will be.

3. The solution to the problem needs to have measurable impact

The “measurable impact” is the main tool you will be using to earn a raise. Examples could include: increased inventory turns by X, reduced annual workplace accidents by Y, eliminated Z minutes of production downtime per shift. The result needs to be quantifiable.

4. The impact should be substantial, time is precious

There are an infinite number of problems you could choose to solve. But you want choose a problem where the solution will be impactful to the organization. DO NOT waste your time delivering marginal results that will not persuade your manager to give you a raise.

5. The Solution to the problem will have a specific completion point

You do not want to take on a never ending problem. The point is to showcase your ability to add value to the organization. It is easier to do that if you can walk your manager through your project and present the results.

Still need some help selecting a problem? My recommendation is to talk to people. Start with the individuals you spoke with when you were Expanding Your Perspective in Part II. Ask them if there are parts in their process that need improvement. Another one of my favorite questions to ask is, “In your opinion, what is the biggest problem your department faces?” You will find after speaking with a few departments that your organization is ripe with opportunities to make a big impact. Those opportunities are out there just waiting for you. Take advantage of them, make a difference, and earn that raise!

This post is a followup to an article posted 30 August 2016.

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