How to increase your value at work

There are numerous ways you can increase your value to your employer, and by so doing, you may just be able to increase your pay as well. Let’s examine these.

  1. More output

You could simply work harder and faster. This is the simplest path to value. However, creating value in this way is largely in the purview of workers, not leaders. Front-line workers are able to bolster their worth by becoming more efficient at their tasks. Ironically, it is these workers that are often promoted to leadership, even though sheer output is rarely an indicator of leadership prowess. Being the leading worker does not make one a leader of workers. But if you are a leader, you could work with your team toward higher volume.

  • Enforce higher standards

You could take the level of your work to a higher plane. This is different than “more output;” this is doing things better – higher quality, more cleanliness, more cost-effective, and so on. If you are a leader, you can “inspect what you expect” to achieve higher standards.

  • Take ownership

Within your given roles, you could assume more responsibility and ownership, becoming less of a steward and more of an owner. This means you’re less likely to report problems to your superior and more likely to solve them yourself. Assuming your leader is willing, you could improve your benefit to the organization by not having to “bug” your boss for a decision. Over time, work to earn the trust of your superiors to assume this level of ownership.

  • Take on new roles, add new skills

Here it gets a little bit touchy. If you’re like me, you probably think you already have enough on your plate to take on something else. However, one of the simplest ways to improve your value is to have a varied skill-set. And if you try to do this by working 60 hours instead of 50, you’ll be largely ineffective in pulling it off. So, in order to add new skills to your arsenal, you’ll have to eliminate parts of your current roles. This largely happens through the art of delegation. Which leads us to –

  • Build the bench

Developing leaders around you is not only good for freeing you up for new roles, it’s also directly related to your value as a leader. The leader who would rather “do it herself” has reached the end of her effectiveness as a leader. Fear of training yourself out of a job should never enter the mind of a great leader. If you develop others and duplicate yourself, you’ll be free to take on new roles, and more importantly, to…

  • Step back and envision a better future

There are “leaders” who largely manage what is, and then there are those who exercise “heads-up leadership” and see a brighter future. These are the most valuable, but all too rare, of supervisors. Since most leaders are “doers,” ceasing one’s activity to plan, to envision, to dream is difficult – but it can increase your work worth.

  • Self-development, knowledge growth

Leading others begins with leading oneself. Leaders should be learners, even if it’s not directly related to job training and development. All to often, we see professional development as a necessary evil and not to be pursued unless it’s attached to a pay increase. But great leaders don’t think that way. If you pour into yourself, even if there’s not an immediate connection to your work, you will increase your capacity to lead others.

Discussion question: In which of these areas could you take some steps right now to increase your value?

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