Archive for April, 2008

Need a raise? 10 tips for your annual salary review

April 30, 2008

A friend told me recently that she is paid considerably less than a colleague for doing the same job. She found this out by accident but is angry about it. She has approached her manager and will be having a meeting to discuss this as part of an annual salary review.


She asked me for some tips on how she can demonstrate why she should get a raise, so I thought I would share some.


1)      Find out what the industry standard is for the job you are doing, and take into account the city you live in as standard of living counts too. You can try in the US, in Australia and NZ or You can also ask your peers at other companies for ballpark figures.


2)      Work out your value to the company you work for. Are you hired out to other clients? If so, what is your charge out rate? How much do you personally add to the company you are in? This may be in financial terms or in experience or softer skills. For example, someone who knows the business inside out is valuable to a company.  


3)      What reason do you have for asking for a raise? Are you adding extra value to the company since you accepted the position at the rate you are on? Have you up-skilled? What reasons can you give the HR Manager when they ask why they should give you a raise? Saying “because I am not paid enough”, is not a good enough reason! If you can’t think of any, then make sure you have the answers next time around.


4)      Know how much you are asking for and go in with that figure written down unless you are confident discussing money. When people ask me how much money I want, I will write it down as my English reserve kicks in. I am happy writing a larger figure than I can say out loud, and it is what I consider my value to be. If you don’t believe you are worth this figure, it will come across in your manner, so make sure you have the right amount in mind and be confident about it.


5)      Go in with the above points written down in a professional format. Be prepared and demonstrate this to the reviewer. It is almost like a second interview if you are trying to sell them on giving you a raise.


6)      Assess your negotiation skills. You may want to improve them in order to get the best deal.


7)      Do you want a raise or do you want recognition? Assess your motivations. Is it just about the money, or do you feel the company is not seeing what you do? If you feel under-appreciated, this may be a different conversation.


8)      Do you want money or are you willing to negotiate for other perks or better working conditions? For example, are you willing to trade a $5K raise for a day working from home? What will give you greater quality of life? $5K after tax is not so much, but a day working from home will give you 45 days less commuting time, less fuel consumption and more time with your family.


9)      Go in with an open and friendly attitude. Don’t be confrontational or demanding. Put forward your points and discuss them in a rational and organised fashion. Demonstrate your professionalism. If you are given feedback or constructive criticism, then take it with a positive attitude (although that may be hard!). Everything you can do to improve your performance will lead to more money.


10)   If you are told that you will not be getting a raise this time around, DO NOT storm out the office! Take a deep breath and ask why. Ask how you can improve and what you can do so that next time around you will get a raise. If you then achieve those things, they will find it hard to refuse you next time.


The best way I have found to get a raise is to move to a different company and ask for more on entry to the new position. This may be a more radical approach, but it has worked for me.


Remember to focus on whatever is in your power to change. You can’t change the company, but you can change yourself and your situation.


Boredom shifts your brain into neutral – 3 ways to kickstart it again

April 27, 2008


A study published last week indicates that the brain shifts into a resting pattern when doing monotonous or boring tasks.



The focus of the study was to see whether they could predict when the subject would make a mistake, with implications for workplace safety. They found that blood flows to the “rest” area of the brain about 30 seconds prior to making a mistake. The application of this is suggested to be a device placed on the head that would monitor for this shift of blood and then “give feedback to the user” to prevent mistakes.


This little snippet made me laugh as the brain is a clever thing. Instead of doing something boring, it decides to have a rest and maybe focus on something else while the body is stuck at this dull job.

Now we are inventing devices that will stop us going into this escape state whilst engaged in boring jobs.


There is a better way!

Get out of your boring job and into something that engages your brain.

Then you will not need a little hat that shocks you back to life every time you get drowsy!


The best way to tackle boredom is self-development. Here are 3 ways you can engage your brain.


·        Plug yourself into your ipod – but play audios for learning and development, instead of music.  There are free podcasts on every subject, including university lectures on diverse topics. You can learn a language, listen to debates or learn about wealth and money. You may not be able to do this AT work, but you can do it on the commute.


·        Get some books from the library. Go to the non-fiction section and start browsing. Pick something you are interested in, and have a read. Turn off the TV and focus on exciting your brain.


·        Look for other opportunities for work – within your company, or outside. Start looking at the qualifications you might need to have in order to escape the boredom you are stuck in now.


For further ideas, see Chapter 3 of “How to Enjoy Your Job”

Australia 2020: Turning knowledge into wealth

April 21, 2008

Increase wealth with innovation


One of the focuses of the  Australia 2020 Summit is the productivity agenda. This link contains an overview and also a downloadable PDF.


This agenda targets the changing nature of the workforce and the economy and how ‘innovation’ systems can be used to improve productivity across these areas. The economy needs to adapt to an aging population, the problems of climate change and a new economic landscape which focuses more on China and not just the US.


One of the innovation messages is to “turn knowledge into wealth” and improve commercialisation of science and research. This productivity agenda also features improvements in early childhood education. These two are intertwined if education and the economy are considered as whole.


People exist on the continuum – starting in education and ending up in the economy.  


Currently the education system is focussed around modules of knowledge that don’t necessarily relate to real world situations.  They do not apply directly to turning that knowledge into wealth.

One of the major missing components is teaching children and young people  about money, entrepreneurship and creative innovation

Science is taught in a vacuum, likewise literature and other areas of knowledge. I am not suggesting that these lessons are left behind – but that there are also modules that help students to turn their passions into profits. The commercialisation of science, or the arts can also be taught alongside how to use the internet to build a business, how to sell and how to account for the profits legally. The expansion of programs like Young Entrepreneur are needed. There could be more competitions that encourage participation and innovation, rather than viewing from the sidelines like a reality TV show. Seed money for young start-up ventures could be sought from angel investors. This should be encouraged as part of mainstream schooling and not just for the geeks or the super intelligent. Young people need to understand that they will need to earn a living so being taught the value and reality of money early on will help them later. If this had been encouraged for my generation, the credit crisis may well have never happened.


Some might say that it should not just be all about the money, and I agree that learning should also be undertaken purely for the pleasure in learning. But the practicality of what children are taught and how this will be used in the workplace must be examined. One of the graphs in the PDF shows how the number of people in management, admin and professionals has increased and the number of tradespeople has decreased. This means a huge number of people who work in offices, and not enough tradies to fix their plumbing or do their roof. I know, as I am one of the office workers who finds IKEA furniture difficult to put together!


To address this, education needs to start valuing real world skills as important to learn from an early age. Indulge children who want to bang nails into wood – maybe they will turn into builders instead of IT consultants – and probably make more money that way. Has the exit of male teachers from early learning meant that these more ‘male’ skills have been neglected in favour of softer skills? Teaching needs more innovation, less blame and a better PR job. It is often not portrayed in a way that encourages young people to enter teacher training currently.


For the rest of us, increasing wealth with innovation is exactly what we need to do. Changing the paradigm from one job or one career to multiple streams of income, investments, and self education for life.


Jim Rohn says “Formal education will make you a living; self education will make you a fortune.”

Individuals needs to embrace this attitude and start learning about the new economy and the impacts of technology, China and climate change.

Stop complaining about the oil decline and invest in sustainable energy stocks. Buy property on the outskirts of the city and save the change for your investments. Read books instead of watching TV. Listen to audios on self development instead of music all the time. Learn a language (Mandarin?) on your commute. Learn some practical skills. Take some evening classes.

And then turn this knowledge into your own wealth.

“Stress Buster” on ABC

April 15, 2008

There is a new TV show “Stress Buster” on ABC which is basically a reality TV show on workplace stress. Dr Niki Ellis states the problems we all know of and points out,
“we can do a lot to change things, in fact we must”.

This blog is not about listing all the problems of stress – this program shows it all and it is not a surprise to most of us.
I am interested in solutions.

Individuals can change how they deal with the situation. If management won’t change the workplace, then people need to change their behaviour or how they perceive their situation.

It is important to always focus on what can be changed personally, instead of dwelling on those aspects that are out of people’s control.

You need to build a protective buffer by managing stress positively.


The stress buffer provides a cushion around you, protecting you from being overwhelmed. It won’t stop stress happening but it will enable you to survive whilst you carry on with life.  
No-one else can change the situation for you so you need to find the best ways to deal with stress yourself.

Here are a few ways you can build your stress buffer.


·         Assess why you are stressed. If you can identify the situations or people that are stressful, you can then develop ways to avoid them or control the situation. For example, I get stressed if I find myself in a meeting without enough information to prove my point. I make sure I have prepared well enough that I am not put in this situation. What stresses you? How can you prevent these situations?

·         Use time management techniques. If lack of time is causing your stress, take control of your time. Say “no” more often. Discuss with your manager how much work you have as you may find it can be reassigned. Ask people to book your time rather than just dropping by. Shut down your email program for several hours per day so you can work uninterrupted.

·         Get some social support. This may be from your partner, your peers or work colleagues or even a third party like a work counselling service. You do need support when you are stressed, so you feel able to cope. Maybe it is just having someone to look after the kids while you have a walk or a rest one weekend.

In my book, “How to Enjoy Your Job”, the results of stress are discussed in Chapter 2, and the Chapter 4 focuses on “Coping with stress at work”.



About this Blog

April 13, 2008

“I work these 12 hour days, six days a week. Most days I take no lunch, no break. It’s all work. I’m going to end up walking out. I have nothing left to give. It’s like someone pounding on your head 11-12 hours a day. For years. Some mornings, I wake up, I can’t move.”   Sandy, HR Director – from “Gig: Americans talk about their jobs.”

Can you identify with this? Do you feel that the commuter train is making you crazy? Do you get depressed on Sunday nights?

I work in the IT consulting industry and it is packed with people who don’t enjoy their jobs. The offices of the world are full of people feeling the same way.

There is something wrong with the way we work if so many people are miserable.

I believe that people can be happy in their work, and that individuals can find the job that is right for them. Most people do want to work. Even if they won the lottery, they would get bored with golf after a while and need something else to do. It is important to feel needed and important in the world – to feel we are contributing.

These are the top 6 reasons people don’t like their jobs.

  • I’m bored
  • I’m stressed
  • I’m under-rewarded and un-appreciated
  • I’m trapped into the job by the money
  • Other people make work a nightmare
  • I don’t know what I want to do – but it’s not this!

This blog will be investigating these issues and others.

It will focus on coming up with solutions to the problems and not just moaning about how terrible work is.

It will also be looking at what companies can do to improve life for employees, as well as what individuals can do to improve their own personal situation.

It is a manifesto for change in the way we work. I look forward to hearing from you.