“No one will ever pay you what you are worth. They will only ever pay you what they think you are worth. And you control their thinking.” – Casey Brown
The above quote from Casey Brown’s TEDxColumbusWomen talk is one of the most eye-opening statements to me. First, because it forces me to accept that a pay raise is something I have to negotiate for myself. No one else will negotiate it for me, no matter how great my work is. Second, it empowers me to take charge of the negotiation by clearly defining and communicating my own value.
And yes, the second lesson is definitely easier said than done, but think about it for a minute. If you don’t know your own value, how can you expect someone else to? Especially someone who is busy with maintaining an ever tighter budget, company KPIs, work/life balance… Oh, and negotiating his/her own salary with someone even higher (aka scarier!) in the organization.
Whether you have a salary negotiation coming up or not, I do believe everyone can benefit from considering their own value. As suggested by Casey Brown, this can be done by considering key value questions, such as:
- What do my clients need, and how do I meet their demands?
- What do I do that no one else does?
- What value do I add to the organization?
These questions may seem overwhelming at first, especially for someone new to the work place. Personally, they initially terrified me. I did the mistake of comparing myself to the many great people around me – with a lot more experience than me, may I add. As a result, I did not feel I contributed anything unique or special to the organisation, which made my first salary negotiation extremely terrifying.
What helped me overcome this insecurity was to compare these key value questions to my job description – to understand what was specifically required from me, and have a concrete benchmark to compare my qualities with. Subsequently, I discussed the questions with people around me, to understand what they considered best practice for someone in my position.
This exercise serves as a confidence boost, because you start appreciating all the things you are doing right. At the same time, it also provides a lot of opportunities for growth, which you can use to develop in your position. And with that confidence and achieved development areas along the way, I am confident that we can all find our own voice and use it to communicate value.