Job Advice

Giving it your all – the value of value

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November 11, 2009
Full disclosure here – I got this title partly from a blog post that I read from the Journal for Quality and Participation with a similar title.  This rather lengthy post talks about 5 specific principles in creating a culture of excellence.  I am addressing just one of those – The value of value.  This post caught my attention because it focuses on one of the topics about which I am most passionate.  Personal value contribution vs. entitlement.  More on that in a moment.

I was also, once again, inspired by my 1st grader, Nate, as he got ready for school this morning.  This is "spirit week" at his school and today was "Classical music day" so they were supposed to dress up in something that represents the classical music era.  I was at a bit of a loss, but Nate knew exactly what he was going to wear.  Pressed shirt, clip on tie, dress pants and a button down sweater.  Classical? Not so sure, but classic? – definitely.  The coup de gras came when Nate decided that he owed his school more in his dedication to spirit week so, scissors in hand, he headed to the backyard and returned with a rose which he then asked me to add to his lapel.  This is a guy who truly adds value when someone is counting on him to deliver – the value of value.  This is where my 7 year old inspiration connects to the topic at hand. 

I think that sometimes we forget what we are going to work each day to do – not simply to show up and put the time in required to get paid.  Rather we are there to add value to our employer and to support and grow the business that they do.  When you recognize, internalize and deliver on this, you come out the winner both personally and professionally.  The post I mentioned above explains it very well:

"Remember, your company doesn’t pay you because you owe on your mortgage; they pay you because your worth to the company exceeds what they pay you. This also means that while your peers are worrying about justifying their paychecks, you are leaving such concerns in the dust because you already exceed that standard in your normal course of business."

I have been in a number of leadership roles in my 20 year career in Indianapolis Staffing and have had many people come to me for advice on how they can make a difference, how they can move up the ladder in the company.  I start by telling them they have already answered their own question….make a difference.  Marcus Buckingham does a great job of talking about working within your strengths and when you can do that, being passionate about doing a great job comes naturally – but even for those who are not able to work in the ideal role right now, giving it your best each day will bring you closer to that opportunity little by little.  You can’t fake adding value – either you do or you don’t, there is no "sorta value".

More from the post mentioned above:

"The second thing that happens is that you place yourself in a prime position to scale the corporate ladder and rise to positions of greater potential. This happens not because you’re a nice person or because you deserve it or because you’re recognized for trying really hard; it happens because the exceptional value you provide to the business and its customers cannot help but be noticed. Right away? Most likely, no. In time? Most likely, yes."

The value of value many times comes as the normal course of business because once you recognize HOW to provide value and you dedicate yourself to working to provide said value instead of just to get paid, it comes naturally.

To wrap it up from the post:

"There are a lot of people in corporate America today working with a mindset that is not particularly productive. They’re looking at trading time for dollars, as opposed to trading value for value. Of course, like anyone working for an hourly wage or yearly salary, you put in a certain amount of time and earn a certain commensurate amount of money. When your aim is to add extreme value, when your focus is on giving even more in value than what you’re getting paid to do, you will create a cycle of advancement that will sooner or later see your position, pay, and influence all increase-and increase significantly."

So, I ask you…did you provide value today or did you just clock in to make what is owed to you?