Get a Promotion 4: Establish the Value of Your Contribution

business-increase-profits1This continues our series on actions that can help you get a promotion

You will earn better promotions the more you establish your value to the company. We already discussed that companies promote people who prove they: 1) can do the job management wants done, 2) fit into the team or organization, and 3) return a good investment (value). Your value increases as you connect your improved metrics to dollars.

Improvements in Work Performance Connect to Money

The importance of giving a return on investment to your employer increased in the past 15 years. Companies cannot carry employees who do not contribute profits. Currently, every employee must contribute. Those who contribute most receive the best compensation.

For example, Chief Executive Officers receive exorbitant salaries because stockholders perceive they create the billions in dividends and profits. Sales representatives  receive high commissions because they generate all the revenues. Assembly workers, especially those on production lines, receive higher wages because collective bargaining increased their perceived contribution to the company.

Formula for Establishing Value

Formula for estimating percent improvements

  1. Identify performance before you began your improvements (i.e. 10,000)
  2. Identify new performance (i.e. 12,000)
  3. Divide the difference by the original (i.e. 2,0000/10,000=20%)

Formula for estimating a dollar increase (if not obvious, like increased sales)

  1. Repeat steps 1 & 2 from above
  2. Multiply the difference by average profit per hour (i.e. 2,000 per month x $20.00=$40,000. x 12 months= $480,000 per year)

Formula for estimating cost savings

  1. Identify how long it originally took to do the tasks (i.e. 8 hours to process A/P)
  2. Identify how long it takes after improvements (i.e. 2 hours)
  3. Multiply the difference by the cost per hour (i.e. A/P clerks get paid $15.00 per hour [6x$15.00=$90.00])
  4. Multiply value by the number of transactions (i.e. 20 [$90.x20=$1,800 per week or $93,600 per year)
  5. Recognize how savings may accrue:
    • Additional transactions that can be processed assuming growing need
    • New work employees now perform they couldn’t before
    • Reduced salaries because the company does not need as workers

Wednesday we will investigate how to improve your performance

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Get a Promotion 3: Identify How They Measure Results

MetricsThis continues our series on actions that can help you get a promotion

You need to know how management measures your success to successfully complete the job they want you to do, . You cannot graph your progress to expectations and goals unless you know what to include on the graph. Most companies and industries, today, establish specific metrics for almost all jobs or tasks.

Metrics Quantify Almost All Work Today

Companies evaluate almost all jobs today based on certain metrics. Some metrics include the following:

  • Productivity per hour measures time efficiency of work
  • Cost per placement measures financial efficiency of work
  • Transactions per hour measures efficiency of cashiers and customer service agents
  • Clients serviced per month measures productivity in medicine, law, dentistry, & more
  • Months of clean and sober measures the effectiveness of addiction recovery
  • Keystrokes per hour measures clerical and data entry production

Benchmarks Compare Performance to Best Practices

The Internet and global collaboration simplified the ability for companies to share and compare benchmarks. Wikipedia defines benchmarking “Benchmarking is the process of comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests or best practices from other industries. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time and cost. In the process of benchmarking, management identifies the best firms in their industry, or in another industry where similar processes exist, and compare the results and processes of those studied (the “targets”) to one’s own results and processes. In this way, they learn how well the targets perform and, more importantly, the business processes that explain why these firms are successful.”

Most industries provide benchmark metrics for their industry. For example, education professionals can find benchmarks through Project 2061, CPU designers and manufacturers to PassMark, and child welfare workers from BenchMarksNC.

How to Discover Your Important Metrics

You may use several methods to find the metrics for your job:

  • Study benchmark research for your industry or job title
  • Contact your union, trade, business or professional association
  • Ask your mentor, network of contacts in the company, and supervisor

Monday we will discuss how to identify the value of your work to management

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Get a Promotion 2: Do the Job They Want Done—& More

Improved GraphThis continues our series on actions that will help you get a promotion

You need to impress management for them to want to promote you. Sometimes, they may want to move you out of a job if you cannot do it effectively. They will lay you off, or—if they really like you—they may try you in something more to your skills. To receive a promotion you have to do the job they want done—and then do more than they expect.

Discover What Job They Want Done

You have to know what job management wants you to do before you can do it. Unfortunately, companies sometimes fail to communicate their expectations effectively. You may need to research to find them. The following activities may help you discover their expectations:

  • Ask for, and study, the job description, noting the specific results they want
  • Talk to your mentor several times asking questions to understand their perspective
  • Talk to people in your network of contacts inside the company to gain their insights
  • Study what the company posts as results in annual reports, posters, & office memos
  • Ask your supervisor after completing the above activities

Meet Their Expectations

Once you know what they expect—you work to meet their expectations. Some specific actions will help you accomplish what they want done:

  • Create an Excel spreadsheet with graphs to monitor and track your performance
  • Include a line on your graph for each week or month for each of the following measurements
    • Each result they expect from you
    • Your actual performance on each result
  • Brainstorm ideas of what you can do to improve your performance with your mentor, network, and your supervisor
  • Make needed changes to improve your performance

Do More Than They Expect

Once you begin to meet expectations, continue your focus on improvement. Try the following:

  • Add a line to your graph showing your monthly goals to do more
  • Consult with your mentor, network, and supervisor for ideas to exceed expectations

Your continued improvement will qualify you for promotions.

Friday we will discuss how to clarify how management measures results they wish to achieve

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Get a Promotion 1: Overview

Promotion 1This begins a new series on getting a promotion from your current job to a better job

As the economy improves people who took lower paying jobs, now look to increase their income. Some will look for new jobs in new companies. Many hope promotions will provide better responsibilities and increased income. You may want a promotion or know someone that does. Either way the posts over the next few weeks will share ideas to help you get the promotion.

Do the Job They Want Done—and More

You must do the job they want done to keep your job. For a promotion you need to do more than what they expect:

  • Verify that you understand what results they want you to achieve
  • Identify how management measures your performance and the results
  • Establish the value of the results
  • Set goals to achieve the results and then exceed them
  • Investigate how to improve your performance
  • Chart expectations, targets, and actual performance

Fit Into the Work Team or Organization

Organizations establish written rules, unwritten rules, organizational behaviors, and corporate cultures. You need to prove you understand and fit into the organization for them to promote you. These steps will help you fit in:

  • Find a mentor to nurture and guide you
  • Build a network of people within the company
  • Study the policies, procedures, and guidelines for the whole company
  • Let your mentor and network teach you
  • Conform to the attendance, dress, and behavior standards

Provide a Good Return on Investment

Your company expects a good return on their investment in you. You cost them:

  • Salary
  • Matching contribution on a pension
  • Medical benefit (if any)
  • Training time at less than ideal performance
  • Facilities costs for your desk, utilities, equipment, and supplies

You need to prove that you return at least 7-20 times than the total of these costs.

Communicate Your Successes to Management

You must communicate your successes to management effectively. You hold responsibility to prove that you deserve the promotion—and that you deserve it better than anyone else.

Wednesday we will begin examining how to discover what job management wants you to do

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Problems at Work 12: How Guerilla Tactics Can Backfire

voodoo colleaguesWe present another problem at work that can lose your job or stall your career

Christianity, Buddhism, and many other religions share a version of the golden rule: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 17:2 New Living Translation).

Some people, however, perceive that taking advantage of the naïveté of others remains fair game. Not only do they consider it fair, but smart tactics They accept guerilla warfare in the workplace as a necessity to get ahead.


Guerilla Tactics in the Workplace

Guerilla tactics have existed in the workplace since before Machiavelli instructed his prince. Someone always considers them legitimate strategy for preserving an advantage over others:

  • Do exactly what the job demands, but no more
  • Work at the slowest acceptable speed
  • Pile the paperwork on others to distract and slow them down
  • Start rumors, gossip, or falsehoods about someone’s work, performance, or loyalty
  • Sabotage someone’s projects, steal their ideas, or intercept important messages
  • See they don’t receive messages or invitations to important meetings
  • Criticize, demean, or ridicule a fellow worker when others cannot witness it

These and worse practices destroy morale and reduce productivity. Some people feel that get them before they get you represents wise advise. At times, promotions and plumb assignments confirm that dirty politics remains successful practices.

What Goes Around Comes  Around

I advocate the old fashioned approach of the Golden Rule. I believe in the old adage What Goes Around Comes Around. Eventually, you cannot sustain a career built on burying the others.

I share just a few examples:

  • A management team that cleaned out more than 60% of the existing field team, lose their own jobs in 2 years
  • A director who publicly embarrassed and falsely accused his predecessors was transferred, within 2 years, to a small outpost under the same condemnation
  • A manager whose stories highlighting him as the hero in every situation was disgraced when the truth of the stories revealed he took credit for other’s work

Monday will begin a series on tips to earn the biggest raises and the best promotions

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Problems at Work 11: Saying or Writing Too Much

Blah Blah BlahWe share another problem at work that could lose your job or stall your career

Saying or writing too much raises concerns with supervisors. It occupies too much of their time listening to or reading your communications. Co-workers, managers, and others begin to avoid people who monopolize too much of their time. You do not receive prime assignments or invitations to major work teams if people want to avoid you.

Examples of Communicating Too Much and Consequences

Let me share two examples of people who failed to recognize this trait and the consequences:


Liz managed a division of a nonprofit organization. Her competence and good ideas increased her reputation with management. Unfortunately, Liz frequently sent her ideas to management in 3-6 page emails or memos. Directors and executives initially waded through the exorbitant number of words and pages. She shared a lot of good ideas. However, the length of her messages outweighed their benefit.

As a result, management ignored many of her good ideas. She never received a promotion in 15 years.


Peter, an architectural draftsman, started a new job with a prestigious firm. They appreciated the quality of his drafting and technical skills with AutoCAD. His supervisor recognized that he finished work ahead of deadlines. The supervisor did not appreciate how much of his time Peter occupied giving answers. Peter tended to talk a lot. He would take 15-20 minutes answering one question or talking to his supervisor, co-workers, and clients. He did not notice how much he talked.

One morning 3 month’s into the job, Peter’s supervisor, a human resource representative, and another member of management met with Peter and terminated his employment.

Tips to Overcome Talking Too Much

You may try several tactics to change your behavior and stop talking too much:

  • Review all written emails, messages or reports and reduce their length by half
  • Resist the urge to comment on every topic in meetings or conversations
  • Ask a colleague to signal you when you talk too long or longer than needed

.Friday we explore how backstabbing and guerilla tactics can cost you your job

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Problems at Work 10: Do Not Criticize Your Supervisors

Four FacesThis is another post examining problems at work that could lose your job or stall your career

Before we begin, let’s review the three key actions you need to do to keep your job and earn the biggest raises and the best promotions: 1) do the job they want done—and more, 2) fit into the team and organization, and 3) prove a good return on investment. Today, I want to explore one aspect that afflicts many workers or employees.

Reasons You May Judge Your Supervisors

You may justify criticizing your supervisors for several reasons:

  • You cannot see the value of the direction they move the company
  • You disagree with how they treat their clients, employees, or others
  • You see a better way to run the company
  • You recognize problems in the company that nobody accepts
  • Other employees draw you into their negative discussions
  • You do not accept strategic or operational changes they propose
  • Personality conflicts just create negative feelings about someone

Perhaps you don’t voice your criticism. You feel you hide your feelings. You think no one knows how you feel. You perceive that your smile and countenance masks that you do not like nor respect them. Unfortunately, your negativity usually communicates. Very few people can conceal their mental criticisms. The people around you will sense your criticism.

Benefits of Judging or Criticizing Your Supervisor

I will admit that you may identify possible benefits to your criticism:

  • Your comments will highlight what needs to change to important people
  • Others will accept your ideas or criticism and accept your ideas
  • You can say “I told you so” when their approach fails
  • Venting clears your feelings, frustrations, and pain

Consequences of Judging or Criticizing Your Supervisor

While the rationalizations listed above may bring temporary satisfaction, they ultimately ruin relationships. Continued bad feelings verify that you:

  • Don’t fit into the team or organization
  • Hesitate to do the job they want done
  • Resist direction and instruction
  • Do not have a future in their organization

Wednesday we will discuss how talking too much can lose your job or stall your career

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Work-Life Balance 9: Balance Does Not Mean Equal

Pie Chart Work Life BalanceThis concludes our series on achieving a balance between your work and your life

This post should have come earlier in the series. We alluded to it in the second part of the series with reference to articles by CBS and Forbes. This post will clarify that balance does not mean equality. You will not equalize time spent in your work, family, personal, and civic life. You cannot, so do not expect it. Balance more closely resembles a pie chart representing time spent areas of life you choose.

You Cannot Achieve Equality

A week consists of seven 24-hour days or 168 hours. Certain activities demand specific amounts of time. You probably need to spend:

  • 40-50 hours for work: Most of us require at least that many to keep up with the bills
  • 42-55 hours for sleep: Some get by with as little as 5 hours a night, most need 7-9
  • 15-20 hours for hygiene and eating: Some take more, others take less
  • 63 hours for everything else: cleaning, commuting, entertainment, social, and private

Sleeping and working dominate our week. You cannot expect equality when just working, sleeping, eating, and showering consume more than two thirds of our time.

Work-life balance does not imply equality. Work-life balance means finding time for the priorities in our life.

You Can Achieve Balance

Balance occurs when certain exertions compensate for others physically, mentally, and emotionally. Luckily some activities rejuvenate more than others. One hour playing racquetball, running, or climbing rocks satisfies much more than the same hour at work. You achieve work-life balance when enough other priorities compensate for the priorities you cannot control as easily.

In Conclusion

While equality will elude you, you find balance using the applications taught in our earlier posts:

  • Recognize the importance of finding balance
  • Accept that you can achieve—and deserve—balance
  • Identify your life priorities
  • Focus on the most important life priorities
  • Prioritize you work
  • Act to find your balance
  • Follow-through on your plan
  • Persist until you excel
  • Realize that some aspects always dominate

Join me Monday to examine the aggravation of finding a new job and losing quickly

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Work-Life Balance 8: Achieve Excellence in Balancing

practiceThis continues our series on how to balance your work and life

You will encounter challenges and obstacles when you try to balance your life. Expect them. Do not despair. You can overcome them. My last post shared some techniques to protect your balance. You will make mistakes the first few times you try to use the techniques.

The more you rehearse certain actions, the better you get. The same applies to achieving balance between your work and life. So, keep practicing in real life.

The More You Balance, The Better You Get

The more you use the techniques the better you will get. The better you get at protecting your work-life balance, the more you will achieve balance. Let me share some examples:

  • Sam and his wife recently had their third childe. Sam took six weeks off work to be with his wife and family
  • Sam takes his children’s birthdays off from work to be with them
  • Sam also takes their anniversary off from work
  • Sam also takes time for himself. Recently he and a colleague went to the opening of the Avengers with a business organization they both belong to.

Sam’s first attempts at work-life balance did not work out well. He did not give up when his boss prevented him from taking off early for a 2-year olds son’s pre-school event. He continued asking to attend certain events until he asked very well.

Do Not Abuse the Situation

You should not abuse balancing your work-life. Recognize that while you protect your life, you also fulfill obligations. Companies expect employees to work the agreed upon hours—and maybe a few more. Work-life balance does not imply you work less than the commitment.

Sam either works additional hours to compensate for taking off, or he claims it as leave. Employers complain about workers who

  • Demand to work fewer hours a week
  • Complain the employer expects them to finish too much work in the remaining hours
  • Expect the employer to hire other employees to do the work they cannot finish

Friday we will analyze how balance does not include equality

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Work-Life Balance 7: Follow-Through on Your Plan

protectThis continues our series exploring how to balance your work-life

You will not achieve balance if you fail to follow-through. Follow-through includes doing what you say will do, protecting the time so that nobody unbalances your life, and knowing when to shift things rather than bombing them.

Do What You Say You Will

You recognize the importance, the integrity, of following through on commitments you make to others. You handle any distraction, interruption, or problem that impose on a meeting with your boss, clients, or other important people in your life.

Yet, how much importance or integrity do you attach to the commitments you make to yourself? You probably feel perfectly comfortable scheduling a meeting or activity on top of one you schedule for yourself. You need to recognize that you deserve as much respect and importance as you give your boss or client.

If you say you will do something for yourself—do it.

Protect Your Time

You need techniques and skills to protect your time. You schedule meetings with your spouse, family or yourself. Then, someone calls and wants that time. What do you do?

Panic if you have not developed the skills to protect the time. Practice some of these techniques:

  • Say “I already have an appointment at that time. Could we schedule it for…”
  • Describe what you are doing on their side of the balance, ask what they want you to stop doing for this additional piece.
  • Negotiate what they will give you in exchange for what you sacrifice for them
  • Learn to feel comfortable protecting your balance

Shift Activities Rather than Bomb Them

Frequently, we eliminate the original scheduled event or activity when someone asks for the time. You can maintain balance if you train yourself to shift rather than eliminate activities. For example, if work really does require you to stay late on the night you were taking your wife out to dinner, then shift dinner into a time that business had occupied, make it lunch instead.

Wednesday will explore how to increase your excellence in balancing your work and your life

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