Do You Know The Basics?
At 20 I wanted to save the world. Now I'd be satisfied
just to save part of my salary.
- H. G. Hutcheson
Learning The Basic Facts of Work
When you were growing up, did anyone ever tell you the facts about work? Things like why we all have to work and why it takes most people 40+ years to be able to retire? Or were you left to discover them on your own?
If you are just starting to work or are curious about what you might have missed -- below are some of the basic facts of work I wish I had known when I starting working.
Will these facts help you get a promotion tomorrow or next week? Probably not. But they will help you start looking beyond the next payday and maybe find a few good reasons to take a good, hard look at how much you love what you do for a living.
So here are a few simple truths ...
1 - The reality is that most people have to work.
Unless you inherited a trust fund or recently won the lottery -- you need a way to earn money to buy the necessities and luxuries of life.
2 - If no one goes to work, the world stops.
If farmers do not work, no one eats. If teachers do not work, no one learns. If nurses and doctors do not work, no one is cured. In order for our modern world to work, someone still has to fix the phone lines, stock the grocery shelves and refill the ATMs. So even if everyone won the lottery tomorrow, most of us would still need to show up for work.
3 - You will spend at least 60% of your life working.
That includes the time you spend at work, as well as all the time you spend preparing for it, looking for it, commuting to it and recovering from it on the weekend.
4 - Even with a well paying job, you will probably still have to work for a majority of your life.
Most people live at the highest level their income will allow. (Simply put, they spend everything that they make.) And since most people also want to live at the same level after they retire, it takes roughly 40 years to save enough to comfortably retire.
5 - You cannot earn a high income just by showing up on time and doing an average job.
People who do average jobs get paid average wages. Doing a good job earns you a good salary. But to get paid a high income, you need to offer your employer or clients work they value highly. Exactly what that is (and what you really get paid for) is not always listed in your job description.
6 - There is a limit to how much you can earn doing any job.
Think about it. Would you pay someone $1,000 to mow your lawn, type your resume, or baby sit your children for the evening? Probably not. So, there is a limit to how much a reasonable person will pay for any job to be done. That means there is a limit to how much someone will pay you.
Every job has a fair market value, based on how many people can do the job and what they must to be paid to do it. More people can do low skilled jobs and they are willing to be paid less -- so low skill jobs earn less. So if you reach the top of your pay scale and you want to earn more, you may need to find a job that will
a) pay you more for the same skills,
b) develop more skills so you can be paid to use them, or
c) find a job that allows you to provide more of the things you really get paid for -- performance, passion, expertise and resources.
7 - People and businesses pay others to do what they do not have the time to do, prefer not to do, or cannot do.
Think about it. If you can do a job yourself, why would you hire someone to do it for you? So clients, bosses and companies pay you to do the work ...
- when they lack the time, tools, knowledge or experience to do it
- when they prefer someone else deal with it
- when you can do a much better job than they can and it matters
- when the job must be done right and you have a higher chance of success
- when they cannot do the job at all
And generally, the farther down on the list, the more other people pay. So a good way to increase your paycheck is to have the skills and knowledge to do jobs that others cannot do or which needs to be done right.
8 - Your job description defines your workday but your performance review is how you earn raises and bonuses.
A job description tells you what you do all day. Your performance review answers the simple question, "how much are you delivering the things your boss and company value?" It is easy to confuse the two, and that is one of the reasons why so many people (bosses and employees alike) are frustrated and confused by the performance evaluation process. Since raises and bonuses are based on performance reviews, the sooner you figure out what your boss values and what you really get paid for, the sooner you can start making those things an integral part of your workday.
9 - Bonuses are nice, but raises are better.
No one talks much about the difference between getting a bonus and a raise -- and why one is better than the other. A bonus is a one time "thank you". A raise is a permanent increase in your yearly salary and impacts what you will earn the rest of your life. For example, if you do well and the boss wants to reward you -- he or she has to decide if this is something out of the ordinary (bonus) or a level of performance they can expect regularly from you in the future (raise). A $1,000 bonus is a great one time thank you. But a $1,000 raise means the company will pay you $1,000 more every year. Other companies will have to match this higher salary if they want you to come work for them. And since many companies give raises based on a percentage of annual salary, that extra $1,000 means every raise from now on, no matter where you work, will be slightly bigger.
So being consistently excellent at what you do pays off more than exceeding your bosses expectations every once in a while.
10 - Getting noticed is an essential part of increasing your salary and work experience.
Excellent job performance does more than just earn a pay raise - it gets you noticed. That means that you can be considered for promotions and special assignments that will allow you to increase your skills and experience. It also increases the likelihood that if you are being underpaid, someone else will come along, notice you are undervalued, and steal you away with a better job, paycheck and benefits.
Learning About The New Facts & Rules of Work
If you want more ideas and strategies, these are the resources I recommend (many of which may be in your local library).
Now, the focus is on identifying and developing peoples strengths and talents -- and this shows how great managers are changing the pace and face of business.
The Next Step
If you want to read and learn more about work ...