‘‘What do you get paid for, at work?’’ This is the question I asked a group of IT specialists earlier this week, as I started a 2-day Driving Client Centricity programme with them.
The answer, of course is: your skills and knowledge.
Your salary is directly proportionate to the perceived value of your skills and knowledge. Therefore, if you want more money, increase your value. It is a fairly elementary prescription. But, like many things in life, the simplest formulas are usually the most potent ones.
I also had to remind my trainees that were valuable only when they add value It is expected that you do what is listed in your job description and that you meet your key result areas. This is crucial.
However, anything you do, which is over and beyond what is expected of you that adds value will bring you exceptional personal results.
As your value-added contributions produce measurable outcomes for your company, help make a better workplace, add to profitability, or long-term sustainability; you will increase your personal value.
Of course, as you become personally more valuable, you continue to grow motivated to do more. It's cyclical.
If you want to add value add, start by learning to listen and notice things around you.
When you take the time to observe and listen to your surroundings and interactions, you will learn a great deal about the company you work at, the people you work with, as well as yourself. Your observations will help you focus on what you need to do to further enhance, re-learn and develop professionally.
I know through experience, how important observing and listening, is.
When you pay attention and listen, the biggest benefit is that you will be able to determine how and when best to approach your leaders, and predict some of the outcomes of your interactions with them. This will naturally help you further your cause.
Learn to listen with the sole aim of understanding what is going on. Why? Because when you listen without preconceived notions, you are more likely to actually ‘hear’ what they are saying.
When you master this, you will find yourself equipped with "inside" knowledge that will make you eminently promotable.
Next, invest time to read and gather new information. The acquisition of knowledge has never been easier. The abundance of resources that you have at a click of a button, on your browser, must be put to good use. Pick books, magazines, online resources and so on, which resonate with your needs at the workplace.
And, remember that knowledge is not power. Applied knowledge, is.
Getting mentors will also help you become valuable. When you study their actions, you gain valuable insights for your own journey.
Be honest about the things you want to change about yourself. List them down, and be clear why you don’t want these habits. Then, identify what empowering attributes you want like to develop. Once you have worked this out, look for someone who has these qualities, and use them as a role model.
If you do this correctly, and get the right mentor, you will start adding value to yourself. As you begin to emulate them, you will start replicating their results.
When you are observant, you find that mentors can be found everywhere.
Look around you in your everyday interactions for interesting people. When you travel, keep your eyes open for find interesting people who you can learn from.
I have learnt from both the briyani vendor in Chennai who prepares his rice and chicken dish at a busy street-side intersection, as well as from celebrated chefs in restaurants around Europe.
For example, I have understood how to add value from both of them. I have seen the result of working with passion, and having the end result completely in focus.
Be interested the outcome of your work. If you don’t really care about the results, you can expect only average results, at best.
The goals that you set for yourself will only be met, if you care about the consequence.
Similarly, your work will only produce real yield, if you are committed to delivering a great end product.
When you connect with the reality that your work supports your lifestyle goals, and your personal growth is fuelled by the work that you do, then it becomes easier to care about what you do.
Be cognizant of the fact that if you love freedom; the freedom to travel, the freedom to enjoy some of the finer things in life, and the freedom from debt; that freedom only comes when if you care about your work.
Your vocation pays for your freedom.
The key is to create and deliver as much value as you can. You must care immensely about what you do. As you do this consistently, your motivation to increasing personal value becomes sustainable.
Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”