Some people say that money is a motivator. It is not. But when you feel that you are underpaid, you can become demotivated. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and getting a fair and competitive salary will make you feel good about yourself. Here are some tips on how to improve your earnings:
Find out where you stand, compared with the average. You can do this by:
Asking for this information from your salary administrators. If they are reluctant to divulge this information, ask them to refer you to any industry studies.
Asking friends and associates within your organization and in similar jobs in other organizations for their salary rates. Make sure to compare apples with apples. Include all benefits in your comparison.
If you find that you are over the fiftieth percentile — in your job category and in the industry — you need not rest. You may be good enough to get the eightieth percentile … or better. So at your next performance review:
Go to the next appraisal armed with a list of specific accomplishments — big or small. Make sure that they are included in the documentation.
If you have been poorly evaluated in some areas, ask why, and ask for advice on how to do better.
Negotiate a performance incentive. Tie your compensation to a measurable goal that appeals to your boss. In that way, you've created a win-win situation.
Never be afraid to discuss money with your boss. If it bothers you, and you feel you're undervalued, make your case; but do so courteously. Most important, be armed with the facts, not opinions. Show
how you compare with others;
what you've done that's special;
how your last increase related to inflation.
If you feel that you have lost track of your goals, refocus. Let your boss know that you're back on track and what you're doing to achieve your goals.
If your goals are general — such as to improve customer service — make them more specific. A goal to improve turn-around of customers' questions by 17 percent by the year end is specific.
If you feel you are unfairly paid, make your boss aware of your opinion. Don't demand a raise. Take a collaborative approach. Ask for your boss's help and advice. Say, "I'm not sure what to do about this. What advice would you give me?" Then listen and note any specific action steps.
Keep your ear to the ground to identify things that are important to the organization. Keep up to date on new programs. Get involved. Become part of a design team or an information-collecting task force. These steps will increase your profile and place an added value on your employment.
Be nice. Be positive. Be friendly. People will go out of their way for special people. You'll have people advocating for you if you're well thought of.
Be especially nice — without being patronizing — to people in power. They can negatively influence your career if they don't know you or don't care for you.
Act like an employer. Treat the organization as if it were yours. Love it. Take care of it. You'll earn few, if any, kudos if you act like an employee who plays strictly by the rules, does the minimum, goes home as early as possible.
Keep your ears and eyes open for new opportunities. Watch the bulletin boards for job openings. Apply for those that might challenge you. Have a plan to show an interviewer how you intend to make a success in the new role.
Review the mission of your organization. Get hold of the business plan. Find out what's important so that you can align your efforts with what is valued by senior management. For example, focus on
generating higher sales;
opening new accounts;
Measure these changes and share them with your boss.
Improve your education. Go for improved qualifications or a higher degree. Show your boss how the additional education will benefit the organization — you may then get the company to fund you.
Become indispensable. Learn a niche skill, such as how to operate a new software package, that adds to your value.