Know Your Value

by Maggie Peters

GettyImages-1025252462What exactly more do you want out of your career? Higher salary? Professional Development? Promotions? How can you position yourself to confidently ask for what you want? The answer may surprise you. You have to solve a problem of the person who can grant your request.

Let me give you a relatively funny, but overly simple example of this concept. Several years ago, I had an employee want to discuss his compensation with me. As an HR professional, I like to have these conversations and want to hear what the employee has to say so that I can best address his/her concern.

There are a few things that I do when this happens. First, I want to ensure that the employee has had a conversation with their manager. If you’re a manager, you don’t like to be side swiped by these important conversations. Second, I do my research of that individual’s situation: current job role, current salary, historical salary increases, where they are in their salary range, performance reviews, promotions, time in job, etc. I want to be as fully prepared to understand where they are at and why they believe they should be paid more. After all, they could be right. That’s what probably motivates me the most in HR, making things right.

When the employee and I did have our discussion about his desire for more compensation, his justification was that he had two trucks that needed repairs. As a human being, I felt for him because his need was very real and he had a problem he was trying to fix. As a representative of the company, my research determined he was paid fairly for the job role he was currently in. I sensitively conveyed that compensation isn’t based on financial need but other factors such as job value. I offered to work with him and his manager to establish a professional development plan that may lead to jobs at higher compensation ranges.

I believe every worker should know what they are paid and why they are paid the salary they are. It is a manager’s job to clearly and regularly convey compensation based on the philosophy of the organization. Did you notice, I didn’t say HR in the prior sentence? HR’s role is to research and determine what the compensation structures should be for that organization based on the specific industry. Plus, train managers on how to use the structures effectively so that employees will stay and grow within the company. Now, here comes the point of truth: Managers generally are not very good at having these discussions (and this is a significant frustration for many HR professionals).

What does this mean to you? Here are a few thoughts if you are considering asking for raises, professional development, and promotions:

  • Start with the end in mind. What do you really want and why? By getting what you want, how does that solve the problem of the person of which you are making the request? If you want more professional development or a promotion, what outcomes will your manager be able to achieve?
  • Find out where you are at. Do your research on what your role, in your industry and your region (i.e. market value) of the country pays—minimum, midpoint, maximum. Midpoint represents someone who is satisfactorily performing in that role with the requisite number of years of experience. Maximum represents the top of the salary range; that is all that job is ‘worth.’ Note: Not the person, the job. Every job has a maximum value or worth.
  • Talk with your manager. Let them know that you want to know more about your compensation in terms of company philosophy (do they want to pay ‘at’ market? Below/above?), where you are in your salary range and what things you might learn/do to put you in a position for higher compensation and promotions. If/when you don’t get clear answers, talk to your HR professional for help. They have access to a lot more information than managers do and bring perspectives that will be valuable to you like salary ranges, company philosophy.

Whether or not you eventually get what you believe you want will give you the opportunity to determine your next step in your career and within your pre-determined, yet realistic timeframe.


This blog is authored by one of the amazing speakers scheduled to have a session during our one-of-a-kind event, IAAP Summit.

top-vs_bg-fnlSummit 2020 is going to be offered, for the first time ever, in a 100 percent virtual environment. The Summit experience, which is full of excitement, inspiration, learning, and connection is now coming to you. You can learn more on the Summit website, as well as this FAQ document.

2 thoughts on “Know Your Value

  1. There are some really good suggestions in this article. However, it gets a little more tricky for employees in contract positions and articles like this often don’t address contract employees who often cannot even speak with their direct manager in a position because of co-employment issues. In contract positions often annual reviews are also eliminated because of co-employment concerns. Since there are some companies where admin’s are in contract positions year after year, what suggestions do you have for these contract assistants for professional development?

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