Budget Buster: What if you don’t deserve a pay rise?

Elon Musk really hates it when underlings make the mistake of telling him something is impossible. Every boss wants you ...
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Elon Musk really hates it when underlings make the mistake of telling him something is impossible. Every boss wants you to bring them solutions, not problems.

OPINION: Of course you deserve a pay rise! Every article on this subject takes it as a given. We all know it's only our idiot bosses or the evil capitalist lizard people keeping us down. All we have to do is learn to value ourselves, and negotiate firmly to get what's ours.

Shrinking violets might need to hear this rah-rah stuff, but it doesn't actually apply to the rest of us. If everyone is special, no-one is.

So, what if you don't deserve a pay rise yet? How do you get to the point where you stand out at work?

Richard Meadows: Once you've proven yourself as an entrepreneur-employee, you can ask about a rise.

Richard Meadows: Once you've proven yourself as an entrepreneur-employee, you can ask about a rise.

The key is adopting an entrepreneurial mindset. Pretend you own the company you're working for. Rather than do the bare minimum to keep your supervisor off your back, you'll be looking for opportunities, taking ownership, thinking critically, and planning several steps ahead.

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Here are the key attributes of an entrepreneurial employee:

Look for opportunities

Take an active interest in your company's overall strategy. Email people higher up the chain with carefully considered memos or suggestions. Always respond to company requests for feedback. Get to the point where your boss's boss knows your name.

Take risks

Volunteer to take on more responsibilities wherever possible, especially if you've spotted an opportunity that you can take charge of. Don't be afraid to put your time and effort into something challenging and ambitious.

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Use your initiative

Good managers don't want to be constantly holding your hand, or bugged with annoying questions and requests. Use your noggin, and make a judgment call. For low-level decisions, it's better to seek forgiveness than permission.

Bring solutions, not problems

Elon Musk hates being told something is impossible. If one of his Tesla or SpaceX employees uses the word, he kicks them off the project, takes it over himself, and proves them wrong. Your boss might not be as scary as Musk, but you can bet they still don't want to hear a constant stream of problems. Get in the habit of bringing solutions, even for seemingly difficult problems.

Use the 80/20 rule

Getting ahead doesn't require you to spend every waking hour in the office. Productivity follows a "power law" distribution, which means that just 20 per cent of your inputs – work, time, effort – drive 80 per cent of your results. The rest is fluff. If you can identify and focus unrelentingly on that 20 per cent, you can literally quintuple your output.

Schedule 'deep work'

This is the demanding stuff that requires laserlike focus. Computer scientist Cal Newport's theory is that the ability to perform deep work is a rare skill in an increasingly fragmented and distracted world. That means the few people who cultivate it will thrive. To do so, you have to be fiercely protective of your time. Avoid pointless meetings, and batch reply to emails as infrequently as possible.

Once you've proven yourself as an entrepreneur-employee, you can ask about a raise. But you might not even have to – chances are, you're already being eyeballed for promotion or head-hunted by other companies.

If you're busting your butt and still not getting recognition, that's when it's time to brush up on negotiation and schedule a meeting with your boss. By then, you should have a pretty impressive dossier listing all the ways you've helped the company. If you still don't get what you want, take it as your cue to leave.

After all, every good entrepreneur always has an exit strategy.

Got a burning money question? Email Budget Buster at richard.meadows@thedeepdish.org, or hit him up on Twitter at @MeadowsRichard. You can also find links to previous Budget Busters here.

 - Sunday News

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