The other day, a client shared with me her financial situation at work, and asked some probing questions about money, salary, compensation and promotions that revealed a good deal about her personal money story and behavior.
She shared this:
“Kathy, I’m not earning nearly what I should be, despite asking for a raise repeatedly (and being told “Not now”). I just don’t know what else to do. And I can’t figure out why I chronically under-earn compared to my peers at the same level. What should I do differently?"
We delved into her relationship with money overall, including the salaries she’s been earning, how and when she asks for a raise, ways in which she advocates and negotiates for herself, if she has sponsors and mentors, and other key factors impacting her level of success.
Over the years, I’ve heard a plethora of common misconceptions and misguided beliefs from professionals about their financial situation, and I’ve seen that there are core reasons people don’t earn what they think they deserve in their jobs. I’ve also observed behaviors that help others easily command more and more money for their work.
What are the core factors behind why we’re able to consistently grow our salaries and job earnings?
What many people don’t understand is that they won’t be granted a raise just by doing a good job, or just by asking for one. Performing your job well is expected and a requirement for keeping your job, not a guarantee of a raise or promotion.
People are granted raises and command more money than their peers at the same level typically for these 5 reasons:
They’re influential, positive, and exceed expectations consistently
People who are compensated well have a highly-effective way of getting things done, removing obstacles in the path, and accomplishing important, mission-driven outcomes that benefit the organization. And they reveal a positive, can-do attitude and approach, behaving in a consistently high-level manner that exceeds expectations of the role and this contributes to their being viewed as an important team player and contributor. They have the ability to pave the way for success where others fail.
They demonstrate empowering leadership
Professionals who command great money regularly demonstrate the 7 positive leadership traits that encourage people to rally behind them and support their vision and goals, and those of the company. Regardless of their level or rank, they reveal their leadership know-how and their growth potential is obvious. They're also keenly aware of their own dominant action style and are great at leveraging it, but welcome working with those with a diversity of styles.
They innovate powerfully and challenge the status quo in productive ways
People who are rewarded financially don’t just tackle the stated objectives of their role. They go beyond that every day. They innovate, create, problem-solve, collaborate, and bring to the table new ways to address business challenges and dilemmas. And these innovations pay off, making a difference in how the organization moves forward.
They are 10 steps ahead of their job
People who are compensated more than others are able to think ahead of where they are today. They see a future vision of themselves and of the organization, and operate at that level, consistently. Rather than passively doing their work and waiting to be recognized, applauded, or rewarded, they jump in to tackle what needs to be done. They have passion for their work, and that passion drives them to excel. They’re forward thinkers who can’t help but plant the seeds for their future visions in everything they do.
They build strong, supportive and helpful relationships – with mentors, sponsors and allies
I remember years ago when the President of a marketing company I worked for pulled me aside and told me this:
“Kathy, it’s not just what you do in your work that will pave the way for more success. It’s the strength and quality of the relationships you build.”
As a young person, I resisted that idea, because I believed we should be rewarded for the work we do, not the people we know and who like us. However, I’ve learned through 35 years in the workforce (as a corporate professional, consultant and coach, and small business owner) that it is the quality and nature of relationships and bonds you forge that can catapult you to higher and higher levels , not just the functional work you do every day.
There’s tremendous power and opportunity that come from knowing and being connected with influential people who will gladly open doors and speak on your behalf (especially when you’re not in the room). The quality of your relationships is one of the biggest determinants of your success and the financial reward you receive.
On the flip side, why is it that so many people don’t earn what they feel they deserve? Here are the 5 behaviors that hold professionals back every day:
1. They came in too low
I read a very surprising study revealing that 57% of men negotiate their very first salary, while only 7% of women do. That means that out of the gate, women who aren’t negotiating their salaries are falling behind, and that gap is very hard to close.
Another recent survey shared that only 37% of professionals always negotiate their salaries — while a surprising 18% never do. Further, 44% of respondents claim to have never brought up the subject of a raise during their performance reviews. The biggest reason for not asking for more was fear.
You need to negotiate and advocate for yourself effectively and confidently, with every single new role and position you take, and throughout your career. And you need to start this from Day 1 of your working life. Otherwise, you’ll fall behind your peers, and sadly, it gets harder and harder to catch up. If you don’t brave up and ask (with powerful metrics and measures that build a strong case for your higher compensation), you’ll leave thousands of dollars on the table.
2. They don’t understand their true and perceived value in the workplace
When clients share with me their initial idea that they’re underpaid, I ask how they know. The vast majority (80%+) can’t substantiate their belief — they don’t have any data or information to back it up. It just seems to them they haven’t been rewarded as they think they should.
There are some critical ways to measure you’re worth in the workforce, and you need to engage in finding out. Here are some great tips for this via Salary.com. Another important step is to be interviewing regularly (every 3-4 months) for roles you’re interested in and qualified for, to learn more about how your skills are valued in the workforce. Don’t make the mistake of being years of out of touch with what the marketplace is typically paying for the skills and experience you offer, and how in demand your abilities are.
3. They walk directly into situations ripe with gender bias and discrimination
The reality is that there are companies and industries today still blatantly engaged in gender bias and discrimination. The tech world is notorious for gender discrimination, but there are other industries and organizations that engage in hiring and promotion policies that lead to gender pay gaps that you need to be aware of. Before you take a job, know concretely what you’re getting into by doing your research thoroughly. Don’t go in with blinders on, and don’t take a job that you can’t thrive in, financially or otherwise, no matter how desperate you feel you are to take a job.
4. They stay far too long
Another reason professionals fall behind in their compensation is that they stay too long the same role or company. Remaining in the same job for years without advancement, promotion or increase in responsibility can hurt your chances for higher pay and more responsibility. In addition, I’ve personally lived (and observed with my clients) that if you remain for over 10 years in one company, even if you change roles and grow, the perception of you by leadership and management can be limited. People who’ve known you for years at the company often view you as the younger, more inexperienced version of yourself, even when you have, in fact, grown and evolved. Hiring managers can also view a long tenure as a sign that you’re not as flexible, motivated, driven, or advanced in your skill set as other candidates.
5. They fail to plan for roles beyond this one job
Finally, I’ve seen that professionals who think of their current job as “forever” lose their edge, become complacent (or fearful of change), and fail to plan forward and embrace their need to grow and evolve. These are the same individuals who struggle hardest when layoffs and firings come: They’re often unprepared and emotionally devastated when change is foisted on them. They’re also not prepared to talk powerfully and compellingly about what they’ve done, the outcomes they’ve achieved, the talents and gifts they have to offer, and the important contributions they’ve made — in measurable, concrete, verifiable ways that would help them command more money with the next job.
In the end, if you believe you’re worth more money than you currently earn, this is a situation you want to rectify as soon as possible. But to do so, you need to build a strong case, muster more courage and bravery, understand your value in the marketplace, and speak up compellingly about your contributions. Those who can recognize and verify clearly all that they’ve done to help their organizations thrive and grow, and have influential supporters who will vouch for them, will move on to command more.
Read the original article on Forbes.