The Misunderstanding Of Corporate America

I recently visited a local branch of one of my many banks to make a deposit. I ran into a teller which has assisted me for quite some time now, and she happened to be all alone with a long line of people. I asked her where everyone else was and she said, “You would be surprised how everyone here got promoted or transferred.” I said “But you are the most senior of them, why are you still here?” and she responds…”Between me and you , I don’t want to get promoted. They are only going to make $1 – 2 dollars more an hour.” So this led me to believe that this is indeed a problem most young professionals face when they are in career driven jobs with no ambition or understanding of the system and how it works. The real issue is the disconnect of how the system works,  how to make it work for you, and the perception people have of it.

Here are the very important things most people don’t understand about Corporate America.

Your worth isn’t what you think you are worth, its what other think you are worth.

The reality is plain and simple. No entry level job or career will pay you what you think you are worth, because in most cases, you have no worth when you have no experience.

Let’s begin by defining how a company assesses your worth. A company looks at your experience, past results, and the range for which a person gets paid in a similar job. That said, even the worlds best bank teller won’t get paid $50,000 a year.

If you are the world’s best teller, then ask yourself why are you still a teller?

As much as you may think you are better than your peers which you observe daily or that you get it so much more, your company doesn’t give a shit.

It cares about what other people in your field are getting paid for their work,  then they look at your experience level which is based on years on the job, not your imagined 6 months, and lastly they further assess any amazing sales driven wins you have had in your role.

The big disconnect remains that most younger workforce employees are disconnected with the reality that they are working for enterprises governed by Human Resources based self-created regulations that gauge you as one person in a vast pool of people.

While your boss may love you and cheer you on, he is still limited to promoting, or giving you raises based upon a set of guidelines, not the ones he wants. The fact that these rules are in place also means that those creating them are not young and Gen Y driven but rather old and Gen X mentality, which means a very different outlook on the word consistency.

While most youngsters believe their 6 month devotion is the greatest gift to a company, your older boss can’t believe you expect a raise or promotion in 6 months as in his time, it was a minimum of 2 years before someone got a review. While I disagree with both sides of the coin, the middle ground is still not there in most of today’s businesses except tech based ventures and the start-up world.

So what should you do in any job, even if not directly based on your primary interest or part of your long term career goal?

The answer is simple… Move up as fast you can, and don’t worry about petty money.

When I was in banking, my mentor told me something that stuck with me and became the focus of my career. To be honest, it served me very well, allowing me to grow faster than any of my peers and even passing my mentor’s position despite him having been there before and more qualified than me by quite a bit. He said to me… “Worry about getting your title, the money will follow later.

This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you today if you are working for others, even if you don’t believe in your company or the job you do.

I used to train people that worked for me and just like I told that teller, I used to tell them the exact same thing.

Are you ready for this? Its going to blow your mind…

If you are going to be at work for the same amount of time, usually 40 hours a week, then every chance you have, keep moving up so you spend the same 40 hours learning more and making more, even if that’s $0.01 per hour more than you were.

I say this because the point of a career or a job is not to milk every penny out of your boss for your position and ride the wave of poverty for life. Instead, the point is to learn more, get exposed to new things, new roles, new challenges and gain more experience which, even if not valuable to your current employer, will be to the next and will come a with a higher premium/pay structure for you.

While most people focus on getting an extra $2,000 for their new role, or even decline jobs because of ego and what they believe they should be paid, instead they should focus on moving as fast as they can and understand that the $2,000 extra they seek amount to only $50 more per paycheck. You will still not be any better off than you were.

If you are smart, you’ll focus on the next role, and next role after that.  At some point, looking back 5 years, you will have gone from $10/hr to $65,000 a year. While that still means you are poor, you are now at least in a different class of poor, and can continue your climb.

This is not a new way of thinking and not another way to look at something, this is the harsh reality of life and the harsh reality of Corporate America. If you don’t like it or think you are better than what they are paying you, then prove it, quit, and start working for yourself. You’ll quickly realize that perhaps what they were paying you wasn’t unfair… it simply was balanced to keep someone elses dream alive.