New Year

New Years Resolutions

The holiday period often prompts reflection and new (or not-so-new) commitments to do better in the year to come, often around your employment. If this is you, then RDR has a perspective we would like you to consider.

But first, a story!

In the late 90’s I used to work in the credit management team for one of the largest telcos in the country. It was my job to encourage people with outstanding debts to make good on their bills. One year around the holiday period, this telco presented me with a certificate showing I had recovered somewhere in the vicinity of $64m in the 12 months to December of that year and thanked me for my help. I asked my manager if that thanks would extend to increasing my salary by an extra $10k p.a. Unsurprisingly, I was laughed back to my chair.

Shortly afterwards I found a new manager of a new team in a new business who thought I was worth significantly more than $10k more than my earlier salary because now I had evidence to provide of my potential value to their organisation.

To my knowledge, the telco never again revealed what each credit management consultant recovered for the company. They couldn’t have all their staff knowing their true value and asking for pay raises after all. That’s bad business.

The moral of this story is about understanding the difference between personal value and commercial value. You are selling your time to an employer that they will use to achieve commercial outcomes. That means what you do with that time they buy from you, compared to what they need of you in that time is your unique commercial value. The better you do, the more you are worth.

Your personal value, well that’s priceless and unbuyable. It’s made up of what you do for your friends and family, your hobbies and community service. The time you spend volunteering. This can’t have a value ascribed to it. It’s the glue that binds us all as humans. Your commercial value is only one, tiny part of this.

The age of career-long loyalty to a single company or two is largely over. It’s been waning for the last 30 years and nearly non-existent in the last 10. A lot of people are wondering why they should be loyal to an employer when all we see, hear and personally experience seem to be companies NOT showing the same level of loyalty to their employees in return.

Here’s what we think: Don’t be loyal to anyone but yourself (career-wise). Your career is about YOUR path through the world and is not tied to any individual company. Use these companies as stepping stones towards your goals. You will linger on some for a longer time than others, allow for that, there are benefits to having depth AND breadth of knowledge and experience.

Instead of blindly (or not so blindly) trusting your employer to always have your best interests at heart (they have their business’s best interests at heart, end of story), start treating them like clients. Clients are someone you choose to complete work for when what they offer you is worth your best effort. Work hard for their money, do the job you’ve promised to do, follow up and make sure they are happy. It is, after all, an exchange of value.

But don’t hesitate to cut them off, if like a bad client, the cost of serving them with your best effort, isn’t reciprocated with fair value. If a company wants more from a service provider, they go into a contract renegotiation. The same should be true of your employment contract. If it becomes too one-sided in the favour of the employer, offer to renegotiate to complete the new or additional work they are asking you to complete. If they refuse, find a new client to serve and serve them with gusto.

Please note, that this is not permission to push for all of the benefits with none of the effort. If the relationship becomes too one-sided in the employee’s favour and the cost of that employee outweighs the benefit that they bring, well we all know what happens then.

It’s a balance, this is a symbiotic relationship. Good businesses need (want) good employees to work for them, and good employees need (want) good businesses to work for.

Oh, and don’t forget to track your own performance in your own diary. This is your commercial value to your current employer, and this is what you are going to sell to your next employer. If you don’t track your past performance, you have no evidence to show you can/will perform to their satisfaction in the future and you’ll always get the lowest offer (the least risk to them) if you get an offer at all.

If you take this to heart and make a practice of treating your employers as clients and tracking your own performance, then you kill many birds with one stone. You become a better employee as you will be aware sooner of any gaps in your performance and can address them before they become a “teachable” moment for the business and used to justify not paying you more in the future. It allows you to know when the balance is out allowing for those honest and positive conversations and contract renegotiations. It promotes a positive work culture amongst your peers where everyone works hard because they expect to be treated fairly and, supported and rewarded (hopefully) by the company that reaps the benefits of your hard work.

Now there is no guarantee that if you work hard, you’ll be recognised and rewarded for that hard work. Some businesses are for some befuddling reason, at war with their staff as if they weren’t essential to their business. But it does give you the best chance of this happening, and if it doesn’t, it gives you the data you need to prove to your next employer you are worth the conditions you deserve.

They need you as much as you need them. Knowing the value of what you are negotiating with is the first step to ending up with a mutually acceptable deal.

If you want more help to understand your commercial value, how to articulate it and how to negotiate better conditions in your current or future roles, get in touch.

Ask for Jimmy @ [email protected] or 1300 39 30 39

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