Almost everyone wants to earn more. However, most people also do not have any strategy for it.
Read this article and spend some time on what I ask you to do here if you want to get a drastically higher salary than your peers.
In life, what we get is a function of the value we generate for others.
It is also a function of how hard we are to replace.
If you can be easily replaced, then despite generating a lot of value your salary is unlikely to increase fast.
If you are not generating enough value, however, you would certainly be replaced or paid little.
However, there is one more thing. In organizations, it is easy to get lost and not be noticed. You need to generate value, be hard to replace and also be recognized for that. This is what makes you a candidate for a rapid increase in salary. Or fees that you can charge from clients for that matter.
By the way, these three things are not unique to a salary hike, these are also true for most other successes. Startups or any business for that matter also succeed only when all these three coincide.
Let’s see some
Great product + Lack of competition + market awareness = a very successful startup
Doing great work + hard to replace + recognition of decision-makers regarding the previous two factors = higher salary and faster promotion
Generating a lot of value for clients + hard to find someone else who can do the same + clients are acutely aware of both these things = very profitable law firm
Doing great work + having a great personality or being unique + professors knowing about your work/passion = very high marks in college
Very simple formula. As you can see, each of the above formulae above requires three ingredients to lead to the desired result.
A vast number of people get one of these things right. Very few get all three right. Getting one of these right will give you some kind of success, but you will stagnate soon. Getting all three right will be magical.
Even one of these factors, if missing, can upset the apple cart.
Now that you know the formula, let me elaborate a bit about each of these factors.
Everyone thinks they get what this is. They know what is the right thing to do and how to do their job well. It is, however, better to assume that you know nothing. It is the beginner mindset. You are going to discover what it takes to do your job best.
Research on the following things:
Who are the most successful people who have already done this job? What did they do? What were they like? What made them so successful? Were they indispensable? What did they do to become indispensable?
Interview the beneficiaries of your work. Who benefits most from your work? Who are the people who will evaluate your performance? Who decides if you should get a hike? What do they consider to be a very commendable performance? What annoys them? What are their dreams and what are their nightmares?
Knowing the answer to these questions will put you in a position to generate value.
Value generation is relative. What you consider to be great work, may not be great work in the consideration of the people who have to make the decision about whether you get a hike or not.
It is a terrible idea to make the mistake of working a lot in the wrong direction, but it is a mistake that a lot of people make.
Also, value generation requires discipline and self-education. Only such persons who train and develop themselves to produce extraordinary results usually end up doing so. Nobody starts in life with great skills and amazing knowledge. One has to continuously work on themselves to acquire those skills and knowledge. It is a process that should never stop.
If you have not been engaging in any training and development activities connected to your career growth, you should be worried.
Stop being a commodity
The train or the watch provides us great service. Salt is very essential and so is water. We can barely live with these things. The value of these things is undeniably great.
But still, how many people really value these things? How many people feel grateful for these things? How come these things are so cheap?
The answer is simple. These things are commodities. They are available in large quantities everywhere. One bottle of salt is easy to replace with another. The train is always there, and cheap. If you miss a train you can get the next one. You take this for granted.
Most people doing various jobs are also like a commodity. You can replace an office boy with another and perhaps nobody will ever notice. Now there are clerks of lawyers who are very hard to replace. Similarly, there are other clerks who are very easy to replace.
What is the difference?
What makes people hard to replace?
When a person is just doing what they are supposed to do, like a waiter cleaning tables, they are easy to replace. What if the waiter is also bringing a smile on the face of your customers? What if the regular customers come back again and again for that waiter? What if the waiter gets them to order more by giving tips and ideas that they love? What if the waiter is also a great friend with local politicians and helps you to keep your place running without any strife with suppliers?
There are things that are hard to replace. I knew the clerk of a senior lawyer who is like an encyclopedia of all the cases that the lawyer has ever done. He can pull out any file from the file room within 5 minutes, while anyone else will take a few hours to find the correct files.
Do you think the guy is replaceable? The lawyer charges 10% clerk age and gives the entire money to his clerk. The money runs into several lakhs per month.
You need to find a way to be indispensable or at least hard to replace to have that kind of leverage.
What about you can make you hard to replace? I have always found people who took responsibility for outcomes and drive work independently hard to replace. Few people take that level of responsibility to deliver results.
The longer you stay in an organization, you become harder to replace, as well. You can also become hard to replace by adding skills that are hard to find. There are many M&A lawyers, for example. But an M&A lawyer who is also great at tax is hard to find, and sometimes you need a person like that!
Another way to become hard to replace is by getting into a specialization. This is also why specialization increases the income of lawyers and doctors.
If there are few people who are experts in that area, you would benefit from that exclusivity and get paid more.
There are two amazing techniques that I have come across for putting an end to being an easily replaceable commodity.
One is made popular by Ramit Sethi, as the briefcase technique, but I saw more unconnected examples of it too.
Recently an intern overheard my conversation about the marketing of LawSikho. Next thing I know, she messaged me on WhatsApp with a bunch of ideas I should implement. This was not her job, but she went ahead and did something extra, and sent me some information and ideas about what I should do to grow LawSikho.
One or two of those ideas jumped out at me. After this, this intern I never even interacted with seemed to me as someone very special. She stopped being just another intern. I would have wanted to give her more responsibility, had I got an opportunity, but she failed on the third step.
You can immediately differentiate yourself by going the extra mile, by caring about what others want and assisting them in their goals.
That brings me to the second technique, which I came across recently. This is from Mel Robbins, who is a lawyer turned motivational speaker.
What if you could take some time from your boss, and ask him or her how you could get the best review or the best possible raise next time around. What do you have to do right now for that? What is expected from you? What can you do to make her successful? What can you do to take her success to a new level?
This works wonders for doing well in academics too. Instead of going through the semester guessing about what you need to do, how about talking to the professor? What if you ask her for the projects and the papers done by last year’s toppers so you can study what works? What if you ask her what is the way to write an answer that she really appreciates? What are the areas of research she thinks students should pursue?
When you have that conversation, you not only get the step two covered and often take a great leap on step one, you also get your step 3 covered to a great extent.
Make sure that the decision-makers are aware of you and your good work and be consistent about it
If a tree falls in the forest, nobody knows. Then did the tree really fall?
Who knows. Who cares. That is the point.
You can’t be a tree in the jungle. People need to know who you are, what you stand for and what can be expected from you.
Also, if you do not tell your own story, other people will do it for you, and they may not say the kindest things.
You need to tell your own story. You need to ensure it is heard and remembered.
In your organization, the people who matter must know about your work, achievements and potential. Failing this, you may do everything else right and still not get your dues.
Many people get this part wrong, they think that their work speaks for itself and do not share the challenges they overcame with the people who matter (their seniors, bosses, etc.). As a result, their accomplishment often goes unnoticed. They then blame the whole world for being unfair to them when a colleague who generates less value gets promoted over their heads.
Sycophants win when good people do not make sure that their work is known, recognized or heard of.
The other critical part is to be consistent about it. Leaders of organizations, who usually decide your fate with respect to promotions and salary hikes, are busy people. They talk to a lot of people every day. Many people and many things are vying for their attention.
They are likely to forget even if they told you. You need to be on their radar regularly. Do not bug them, but you need to have consistent visibility.
How are you going to work this out?
Now that you know the three parts of getting a massive salary hike, how are you going to execute this? What are you going to do?
How does this apply to your situation? Which of these three need the most work for you?
Do you have a new view on how you could get a salary hike? Do tell me. I look forward to your response.
Here are the courses we offer that can help you to implement all these three principles with weekly practice and our guidance:
EXECUTIVE CERTIFICATE COURSES
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