My son’s high school football coach had a saying:
“If I could buy you guys for what you’re really worth and sell you for what you think you’re worth, I’d be a millionaire!”
Individuals often have a distorted view of the value they provide. They think that they are indispensable and no one could truly take their place. In reality, most individuals can be readily replaced.
Other individuals have the opposite problem… they feel that they are worthless and add no value to anything. They tend to undervalue anything they do.
How can we be realistic about our value and what we contribute? Is it possible to take a step back and be objective about our skills, abilities, and contributions?
My wife and I were recently in the market to find a couple pieces of used furniture. You can get a real education on value by looking at used furniture on some of the buy/sell websites. Almost everyone has an entertainment center for sale. Likewise, there must be enough used patio furniture to fill a small state! But, there are several serious observations you can make about value by looking at these sites. And, these observations can be applied to the value we add to our organization, as well:
- Be unique – Furniture or other items that are a “one of a kind” often have enhanced value. For example, there are a few baseball cards in existence that are worth over $1M USD. These have such value, primarily, because there are only a few surviving. Being able to do something that no one else can do makes you valuable to your organization and in the marketplace. If your skills cannot be found elsewhere, your value is high. But, if you can only offer what many others can do, don’t overestimate your work value. Be realistic… companies aren’t willing to pay you more than others with the same skill set. Being able to offer something that no one else can offer makes you highly valuable in the workplace. But, if you can’t be unique, at least you can…
- Be the best – Even though there are literally hundreds of patio furniture sets on these buy/sell websites, the very best ones still have value. An entertainment center made of the best wood with fine details still has significant value to the right buyer. Being the best at something will always provide value to an employer. Don’t get caught in the trap of merely getting by or blending in. Whatever you have been asked to do, do it with gusto and excellence. Distinguish yourself by doing things better than anyone expects. And, by consistently doing things well, you become known as one that can be trusted. This usually leads to more responsibility and new opportunities.
- Be a problem solver – When viewing the hundreds of items on those buy/sell websites, I often ran across an item that would be very beneficial to solving problems that arise. For example, I found that some sellers had extra garden fencing that they no longer needed. The timing for this was perfect because deer, rabbits, and other creatures have recently ravaged our home garden. Problem solved, if we chose to buy the fencing. Likewise, having the ability and reputation as a problem solver adds value to an individual in the workplace. Being a “go to” person creates value that is immeasurable. As a former leader of a large organization, I can tell you that individuals with this ability are highly valued and tend to get a disproportionate number of promotions and career advancement opportunities. Can you objectively look at yourself and conclude that you are known as a problem solver? Are you the “go to” person when something needs to get done?
- Make things better or easier – When browsing these buy/sell websites, I ran across several items that I did not expect, but that intrigued me… not by what they were, but by what they could do. By looking through these items, I realized that items that either made my life better or easier were attractive and had added value. A beautiful looking hammock caught my eye, as did a reasonably priced wicker couch. Likewise, individuals in the workplace that simply make it a better place have value. An individual that creates calm out of chaos; improves morale; encourages teammates; or motivates the team and others to perform at a higher level are extremely valuable to the organization. Think about this… Are you the kind of person everyone wants to work with or one they seek to avoid? Do you leave the place better or worse? Do you help drive the careers of others? If you can be this kind of employee, you’ll always be valued.
- Do not carry more burden than benefit – Similarly, I found several items on these websites that should have had value, but did not because of some “burden” associated with them. For example, I found a cast iron, claw-footed bathtub in great shape on one site. It was free! However, the advertiser said that it would take an army of folks to carry it downstairs for the upstairs bathroom and a heavy-duty truck to haul it away. Because of this, the advertiser knew that it would not be appealing to many despite its perfect shape and desirability. Though the tub had great apparent value, its actual value was low because of the haul-away burden it represented. When an individual in the workplace consumes more negative energy than they contribute, their value, as an employee is greatly diminished. Sometimes, a highly skilled individual has no value in the organization simply because they are more trouble than they or worth.
Finally, I cannot have any discussion on value without ensuring that we understand the huge difference between value and worth, as individuals. Value and worth have nothing to do with each other. Value is what we bring to the table, but worth is something that everyone has. Every person has worth in the eyes of God… we should never forget that! We need to remember that each person has been created as a unique individual and is loved by others. Treating each other as people of value is our duty as individuals, teammates, friends, and family members. So, please, do not confuse value as an employee and worth as a person… they are not connected!
So, what do you think? Are you adding value to your organization? Or, do you need to adjust your approach or enhance your skills? Let’s be realistic… if you were the leader of your organization, would you hire yourself? If everyone in your organization was just like you, what kind of organization would yours be?
Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous day!