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Knowing Your Own Value Will Increase Your Net Worth!

November 22, 2013

As a coach, I get the opportunity to work with many amazing people. But, when it comes to the part of the coaching where I share with clients the results of their 360 feedback assessment (a tool where the boss, colleagues and direct reports rate them on a variety dimensions in comparison to how they rate their own performance), nine times out of ten it shows the women are really hard on themselves.

There seems to be this feeling among many women that they are not good enough. Whereas others they work with will often rate these women as superstars on the assessments. Sure, there is always room for improvement and it is important to build action plans around closing the gaps. But unless women really see the true value they bring, they won’t be able to fully capitalize on it.

So many amazing and smart women are holding themselves back because they don’t think they can go to the next level in their careers. They feel intimidated and sometimes fearful of the unknown as to what that promotion could do to their already suffering work life balance. So how do women continue to push themselves in their careers and really understand their own personal value?

I was recently speaking with a Vice President at one of the banks and he shared with me that he has offered two amazing women Vice President-level promotions in the past month. Upon his offer, both responded with “I’ll have to talk to my husband on the weekend before I decide.” On Monday, both ladies turned down his offer. Why? Because the husband said no? Very likely that is not the case. More likely, it is due to fear and also because these women don’t know they can do it. They don’t see that they are up to (worth) that promotion. And as such, the opportunity passed them by. And when you start putting out the message that you are not interested in reaching for more in your career, you begin to be overlooked for future promotions. This leads to stunted career growth and often a feeling of being ‘stuck’ in your career and even your life.

And to address the fear component for those struggling with work life balance yet wanting to progress in their careers. My advice? Go for it. Research shows fear decreases as soon as you step into it. You know you can do that job. You know you’ve got great ideas to contribute. Sure, there will be learning but you’ve done it before and you know that challenges like this will make you stronger. Listen to that voice inside of you that says to put yourself out there.

But, remember to set your boundaries. It is a company’s job to try to get as much out of you as it can. It is not your boss’ job to police your work schedule and tell you to reel back when you need to. It is up to you to uphold your personal commitments. It is up to you to shut the Blackberry or IPhone off when needed. Again, know your value. You don’t need to work like a dog who is constantly jumping through hoops to win the praise of others. Be confident in what you bring to the company. Work in a focused and productive manner while preserving quality downtime in your life to recharge your batteries.

And for those women who are in the market for a job… you may be interested to know that women, on average, are still only making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. That means men who are doing the exact same jobs as us are making 25 per cent more!

And when in job negotiations, men will ask for 20 per cent higher wage on average than what is being offered to them. Women will ask for about 5 per cent more…if they even ask for more at all.

People get what they pay for. If you are too cheap, they aren’t going to value you or your services as much as you are worth. When I call women out on this and suggest they are in fact undervaluing themselves, there is always that moment of silence. Then they start to defend their decision to not ask for much in terms of salary because they still need to learn so much. I stop them and we start to explore where they are undervaluing their lives in other areas.

I can tell you when I started working in the corporate world, I didn’t ask what I was worth. I know you can’t expect to make six figures in the beginning, but I made peanuts! I knew I was making less than some of my colleagues at the same level who, coincidentally, were men. I resented that, but I knew I had no one to blame but myself. I started watching and talking to the guys. How were they being paid more money than me and also getting to work on the cool projects when I was the one with the higher level education and better communications skills required to do that job?

Some of the lessons I learned:

1. Be super confident. Say what you want and then say it again. Make sure people know what you want. If you don’t put it out there in a Big Way, you will likely go unnoticed.

2. And on the salary piece, I learned NEVER EVER take what’s offered to you right away. Once you are offered the job, negotiate on the vacation time, pay, whatever it is you value. And don’t be afraid to make decent size leaps in what you ask for on the pay side. The worst thing that can happen is they say no or come back with a compromise. You never know until you put yourself out there. And the same goes for asking for a raise at your current company or ensuring your true value is reflected in your prices as an entrepreneur.

Don’t forget, your starting salary at a job makes a major impact throughout your entire career. Your bonuses are often a percentage of them. Year over year pay raises are based on this salary. And someone who has a higher salary gets to the top of their pay grade quicker, which often leads to a promotion. Getting what you’re worth really counts!

Value-Building Exercises:

1. When someone pays you a compliment, say thank you and don’t be humble and compliment the other person in return.

2. Indulge yourself. Get a manicure. Go for a leisurely walk and latte. Book a spa vacation. Whatever it is that feels like a treat for you, do it and plan it regularly to confirm the messages in your mind that you are worth it.

3. At work, speak your mind. When you feel that voice inside you nudging you to share one of your ideas at a meeting, say it. Don’t worry about what others will think. Put yourself out there as much as possible.

4. Don’t make excuses. Moms are the biggest culprits here. There is no need to justify or make excuses for spending time by yourself or doing something fun for you. Just say you are doing it and stick to it. Moms are great at putting others needs ahead of their own. But over time, we can fall down on our own priority lists and start to feel unimportant. Bring yourself back up on the list by doing things for you and don’t apologize for it!

5. Ask for something that you want and put all of your passion into the ask with no fear of a possible rejection. Perhaps this is the year you ask your boss for an executive coach or mentor. Maybe it is asking for a bigger raise or to attend an amazing learning retreat. Put some thought into what it is that you would really want and then put it out there.

Remember to stay the course on your career journey. It is not always a steady progression up to the top. There are lots of turns along the way. The world needs more strong women like you at the helm. You can do it. But my challenge to you is to stay true to yourself. And, start to ask for more and you will receive more.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gary & Marilyn Greenham permalink
    November 25, 2013 4:07 pm

    Very good!

  2. Tracy Campbell permalink
    December 5, 2013 3:25 pm

    Excellent article!! Some really good points.

    • December 5, 2013 4:52 pm

      Thanks Tracy for your kind comments. Please pass along the article to anyone else you think may find it of benefit!

      Take care, and thanks again for making the time to comment.

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