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Wednesday Weekly - People #2

After thinking about the first post I wrote on employers’ responsibilities to their employees, I decided to do a follow-up article on the opposite side of that coin. Having been a business owner and employer in the past, I know it isn’t a one-sided issue.





There has been much discussion of late on how to deal with millennials. It seems that every generation has its strengths and weaknesses- I’m going to leave the giving of advice on how best to manage each to the experts. My contribution here is regardless of your age and life philosophy, if you’re getting paid to do the work…



If you have enough brain power to finish that sentence, I’m talking to you. Based on my experience with a bunch of different companies in several industries, there are people in every generation who think they are owed…something. Something they haven’t earned- it’s different for different people.

Napoleon Hill's Story

Napoleon Hill tells the story of a young man who thought he deserved a raise because he’d reached a certain age and- at least in his view- level of maturity. Mr. Hill’s reply has always stuck with me: He asked the young man what he’d done to deserve the raise, to which, of course, there was no satisfactory answer. He then proceeded to explain that if we aren’t doing MORE than what we are currently getting paid for, we haven’t earned a raise. Read that again- it’s powerful in its simplicity, but so obvious after consideration. We don’t earn raises by putting in time- it’s the above and beyond things that count. Yes, company policy and union rules at times dictate otherwise, but because we’re GIVEN raises for those reasons, doesn’t mean we’ve EARNED them.

In a world of virtual total polarity- us versus them in almost every aspect of society, the tendency for this to become acceptable in the minds of employees is showing up in the business world. Young people fresh out of school with salary and benefit expectations so out of the bounds of reality that it takes the breath away. Either schools aren’t teaching the theory of cause and effect, their parents are giving them everything they want without further lessons taught about the real world, they have no idea how the economics of business work, or they’re just extremely opportunistic. I tend to think it’s a combination.



Let me be clear here. A business has to take in more money than it pays out if it wants to stay in business. An employee must produce more money than he adds to overhead if he wants to be a net contributor.

If you, as an employee, aren’t doing this, you don’t deserve your job. It follows, then- if you aren’t producing more than you are getting paid to, you don’t deserve a raise. No one OWES you anything- except the wage you agreed to work for. Employment is a two-way contract. Yes, your boss has responsibilities to hold up her end of the deal- but so do you.



 If you aren’t getting paid for what you think you are worth, get a different job.

In my first article, I said the “hard” benefits employers add to their employees’ compensation is just a ticket to the game. The same holds true for employees showing up and doing their job. Woody Allen said “80% of life is showing up”, or “80% of success is showing up”- depending on where you get your quote. It’s a truth that NOT showing up impresses no one. But thinking that because you show up you deserve accolades, fame and money may result in life kicking you in the teeth.

Now, if we can get each to reach for and embrace the needs of the other, we have something. There are some companies where this is accomplished, but sadly, not very many- at least in my experience. The few companies where I’ve worked that had this dynamic still make me smile when I think about my experience working there. Like a good relationship between people- when both sides give 125%, great things are possible.

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