In life and in our work, it can be easy to lose our sense of value.
We look around at other people who are seemingly achieving more than us, “worth more,” or otherwise more valued, and we can get down on ourselves.
But when we look at situations differently, take control of our thoughts, and begin taking new actions, we quickly turn around those old ways of being.
This begins with seeing that only you are in control of how you value yourself, and influencing others to value you the same!
Common Problem In Our Careers
A world of hard-charging ambitious people, every year many people find themselves feeling undervalued.
Lots of things in our jobs, whether it be compensation, promotion, recognition, or otherwises can leave you feeling undervalued.
It’s not to say that it’s “never enough,” but that for the amount you put in, you deserve to expect a lot in return!
I had a meeting last week with a Wall Street investor who felt let down on his comp.
And to be honest, he was right, the head of his firm did let him down.
It’s not because he didn’t pay him what he “deserved” but because of the way he had handled the conversation.
Rather than sit with him and explain why the firm’s performance didn’t enable him to pay his team as he would have liked, the boss got angry and defensive.
That left him feeling undervalued, and in the wrong state of mind to drive more value in his career.
Our Society’s Emotional Trap
Every ambitious person knows it’s not about the money…
Sure, we all like to get paid well for what we do, but moreso compensation is a signal.
In our society, it’s our “net worth.” Think about that language for a moment.
“Objectively” our “worth” is measured in dollars. Even billionaires are held to the same standard and ranked on a list, which is why plenty feel insecure being “worth-less” than another.
Often money is seen less as a cash register, and more a weighing machine, and even folks like Warren Buffett take great pride in being heavier than others.
In the investor’s case, his light compensation made him feel worth less.
It wasn’t just about the money, but that for all he had put in, he felt like his efforts weren’t appreciated, and he was undervalued.
And that right there was the entry point I used to transform his worldview.
Only You Can Value You
While it was clear that he might have made more money elsewhere or his boss could have handled the conversation better, that should never affect his sense of “worth.”
The moment that someone else is affecting the way that you feel about yourself is the moment that you give away ALL of your power.
Not only is his value measured in better ways than his W2, but instead of looking to his boss to feel valued, we talked about looking to the man in the mirror.
Nobody can leave you feeling undervalued. Nobody can “make you” feel anything!
Other people will do what they do, but it is only you who can affect how you feel.
And just sitting for a few minutes really thinking about what makes him worthy as a person, and valued in his job and life, he created a long list of what he’s really “worth.”
Then, once he felt that way, well, now we could get down to business…
How Do You Get More Value?
The biggest problem he faced wasn’t just the stuff we’ve covered but what he learned from his compensation.
Ultimately, he had worked his ass off last year, had driven great results in his business, and he had expected that this was “his year.”
But, it wasn’t…
And compounding on his disappointing comp was the realization that his job just wasn’t what he had expected it to be.
After we spent some time getting him beyond his hard luck stories—e.g. I turned down those other jobs, I expected it to be much better than this…—we got focused on what he does about it.
It’s easy to get stuck in our “stories” of what has led us to where we are, but in his case there’s only one simple choice to make from here.
Stay Or Go?
While there’s a lot of emotion and noise around compensation, ultimately, you can boil it down to two questions—
- What can you do to get paid more?
- Do you leave?
To address the second question first, and quickly, I’d simply say, this is an entirely different process.
Too often people threaten or decide to leave a job as a knee jerk reaction to failing to get what they want, when that’s often the worst time to leave.
Negative emotions cloud their judgement, they fail to see the grass is rarely greener on the other side of the street, and the best way to make a job change is to step back and build a highly methodical process.
Talking it through with the investor it was clear that despite his disappointment, he really loves his job, and has many reasons to stay. And he could see that throwing the baby out with the bathwater comp was the wrong mindset from which to evaluate this decision.
I suggested that he re-read the section of my book on optimizing his Dual Track Roadmap (exploring Status Quo and Alternative paths), and he’s committed to initiating a process to evaluate making a move.
So, kicking this can down the roadmap, we turned our attention to what more he can do to influence his comp—
1. Reset Thoughts and Emotions
A problem when we get disappointed is that it puts us into an “unresourceful” way of being, which makes it harder for us to affect the outcomes that we want.
Even though he knew that the performance of the overall business had dragged down his comp, he still felt it was a slight on him.
Feeling this way he had lost the optimism and enthusiasm that makes him so great in his job, and he also wasn’t doing those things that most certainly improve his situation.
I suggested that he set up some Daily Exercises and that he commit himself to my First Rule of Mind Control—Only Think About What You Want—and he began to get excited about all the ways he can keep getting what he wants.
From this way of feeling, quite frankly, he came up with lots of ideas that filled in these other pieces.
2. Get Better
It’s absolute true that he is performing at a top level, but he noted the ways he can improve.
Not only was it clear to him that he could get better at influencing his comp, but also that he wanted to keep getting better in his work.
The problem for many of us, and I certainly faced this in my career, is that when we’re not getting the results we want, we can feel like taking our ball and going home.
As he put it to me, “I’m already putting so much into the job, and I didn’t get what I want, so why would I give them more?”
That’s the key right there. It’s not about giving “them” more, it’s giving him more.
Getting better may not improve his comp (although it’s certainly the best path), but when he puts this stuff aside and just focuses on doing his best work, he feels his best.
This makes him happier every day, will lead him to better results in his current seat, and is also by far his best path to attracting other opportunities.
Also, we discussed, getting better doesn’t mean “doing more” or “working longer hours.” By getting better with his time and effectiveness he can put in more, in less time!
3. Get Leverage
Even if you feel “completely disillusioned” or “rip shit” about comp, it’s still one of the worst times and reasons to leave a job.
Instead, it’s the best time to step back and figure out how you get more leverage.
In most jobs, by the time you’re talking about it, you have zero leverage on last year’s comp. And instead, really the question you’re asking is, How can I get more leverage this year?
The obvious answer is threatening to leave, but that’s often the worst idea.
A police officer is trained to only pull their gun when they intend to shoot, and you never want to threaten to leave, only to, pull that trigger when you’re actually leaving…
A well-accepted principle in compensation committees is that, no matter how disappointed they are, if people stay in their seat then you paid them what you needed to keep them.
Threatening to leave is the opposite of leverage, but when you show up to tell your boss you’re actually leaving, then, not surprisingly, that’s when they pull out the stops to keep you.
Still, like many failed marriages this nuclear option can blow up everyone, and by far the best leverage you have is never a conversation or ultimatum, but building more leverage every day of the year.
4. Influence Your Comp All Year
A problem many people face on comp is that they let it come down to “a comp discussion” at the end of the year.
Not only do these mostly end up being so-so discussions—because few of us feel empowered or have the strategies to have great ones—but it’s like betting your entire marriage on the wedding night.
Comp isn’t set from one discussion but from what you do all year, and to have the most leverage with your bosses on comp, you want to be running a Strategy of Influence all year.
Here you want to get extremely clear on what actually influences your comp, how specifically the decision makers are influenced, and the devices that have the most impact.
A beta way to do this is to keep reminding your boss that they “better pay you or you might leave.” You will get some reaction, but it might not be the one you want.
Instead I recommend “seeding” the same idea in casual conversation all year, talking about say, all the amazing things that you see going on “out there,” how this really is a time of great opportunity, and how many people you know who are leaving jobs to do exciting things.
Here you’re not talking about yourself. Or leaving. Or even that they better pay you. You’re simply seeding the idea that you’re someone who could be pulled towards other things, implying they need to keep making this enticing to you.
This is just one simple example and there are infinite ways that you might seed influential ideas. And keep in mind, the real secret to this is developing your system of influence that you put to work consistently throughout the year.
5. Squeaky Wheel Wants More Tools
One thing that investor well got before we sat down was that the squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease.
In a team based environment, once you begin sowing discontent, you get your bosses to question your loyalty, which can work in your favor and against you.
Even when you walk in with that other job offer you can do it in a non-offensive way—e.g. they came to me and put this too good to be true offer in front of me—which maximizes your ability to get them to play ball.
Now, of course there are times when the squeaky wheel gets more grease, but it’s still a victim mindset and a weak form of influence.
When you’re doing the things I’ve laid out above—managing your own emotions, getting better, and developing “real” leverage that you’re using all year—all the grease you want will surely come to you!
Convert Feeling Undervalued Into Massive Opportunity
This stuff is hard, and personal for all of us.
It’s never easy to distance yourself from a bad outcome, or from something that you put so much effort into every day.
Yet, when you can step back from the situation and develop the absolute best strategy to get what you want, you turn that feeling of being undervalued into massive opportunity!