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Getting Creative At The Workplace (And w/ Salaries!)

by J. Money on Tuesday, October 9, 2012

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I have a friend who likes to push the boundaries with everything he does, especially in the work force. If this guy wants to do something – or better yet CHANGE something – he’s no stranger to standing up and going for it :) And usually he wins.

Why? Because he thinks BIG PICTURE and formulates a killer game plan before every mode of attack. There’s nothing he doesn’t think through, and it ALWAYS works towards the better interest of the company. Which is the point of why we work where we do (and how much we get paid!) because at the end of the day it all goes back to improving your employer. Or else you wouldn’t be there, right?

So instead of mastering only HIS itsy bitsy role at these companies, my friend – let’s call him Jake – takes it a step farther and tries to implement changes/ideas that greatly affect the company overall.  Sometimes they nix them, but they *always* listen to what he has to say first. And why wouldn’t they? He’s always trying to help the company as a whole!

So that’s point #1 for today: Think bigger picture and always try and improve the workplace around you. Not all companies have such an open door policy, and all our brains work totally different from each other, but if you’re tired of being in a rut or always wondering why you can’t advance/get that raise/bonus/etc, take a minute and think of a few ways you may be able to grow the company – even if it’s outside your department. Most times the worker bees know a helluva  lot more than upper management (have you ever watched Undercover Boss?), so if something’s broken or you see a way to improve the system, voice it! Along with ideas on how to fix things… That part being the most important – no one likes people who bitch and moan without ever giving giving alternatives. That would do you more damage than good.

Point #2 is something else my friend likes to do: Ask for what he wants. Even if it’s crazy/weird/laughable. And he’s got way more balls than me in this department, haha… but again, why shouldn’t you? If you’re gonna spend 40+ hours a week of your life helping out a company, plus or minus 10 hours of commuting on top of it, why NOT at least try and go for the gold? If they say no, they say no. But at least they know you’re a person of action and can keep it all into consideration for the future.

A perfect example of this is when Jake went out to land a brand new job after working for himself after a few years. He had been itching to get into something a bit more stable and un-manager-like (when you work for yourself you’re the CEO/Accountant/Gopher and everything in between!), but he also wanted to keep at least a little freedom so he could still work on some of his passion projects at the same time. And preferably with the new company’s help ;)

So what did he pitch this new company he had his eyes locked on to? A “choose your own adventure” type partnership based on salary and time scales! Haha… This is what it looked like:

  • $100,000 Salary –> 100% of time spent on company stuff
  • $75,000 Salary –> 75% of time spent on company stuff, 25% time spent on co-owned projects
  • $50,000 Salary –> 50% of time spent on company stuff, 50% time spent on co-owned projects

With the hopes they’d choose either #2 or #3 so he could still semi-live his entrepreneur lifestyle without giving up all future profits as well :) And $50,000 was all he needed to really maintain his current lifestyle anyways. Unfortunately they ended up passing on him altogether when all was said and done, haha, but only because they had to hit pause on all hiring for the moment (he thinks they’ll come back in 4-6 months, but we’ll see). They did make a point to let him know that he was one of the most creative, and exciting, candidates for the job though, and apparently they had a blast deciphering between the different options they were presented with ;) So it kinda-sorta worked? (And for the record they were indeed deciding between options #2 and #3!)

The point again, though, is to ASK for what you want. And then go all out to achieve it! Sometimes you get lucky, and other times you don’t, but there’s no way for the other party to KNOW what it is that makes you tick if you don’t bring it up to them in the first place. No matter what it is. So put it all out there when given the opportunity, or better yet go MAKE the opportunity yourself!

At the end of the day the only person looking out for number 1 is number 1 him/herself. If you don’t shoot for the moon, no one’s gonna do it for you. Both in career AND in finances. You’re the only person who knows your situation, so stay on top of it and reach out when you need help! You’ll always go farther when you’re motivated! :)

Anyone else have any interesting or creative stories from the workforce? What was the last thing YOU did to improve the company you work for?

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(Photo by jayneandd – who makes me now wanna go out and grow a mustache!)


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Savvy Scot October 9, 2012 at 5:37 am

I LOVE undercover boss! I totally agree with your points on asking for what you want. I have done this in banks when I wanted a charge removed for a payment that I accidentally missed, for a discount when buying cars and to include a service, MOT and road tax and also in the workplace – I asked to go on a training course abroad instead of the one in my home country. I had a list of all the potential benefits of networking with foreign affiliates etc. etc. So long as you can justify why you are asking… you usually get it!!

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2 Parvinder@Readtoawake October 9, 2012 at 6:58 am

In the new competitive world, we should think big and creative to survive. But it’s a nice thing if you are optimistic and creative by nature so you can handle any situation. you are right, if are not doing to take steps, no one is going to do it for us.

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3 Lance @ Money Life and More October 9, 2012 at 7:05 am

Those three salary options are crazy. I bet many more traditional companies would be confused and just pass on the guy but I’m sure he wasn’t applying to a traditional company either… ballsy indeed!

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4 William @ Drop Dead Money October 9, 2012 at 7:58 am

I agree – ask for what you want. But that also requires taking more “no’s” for an answer, because too many of today’s corporations just can’t process “out of the box” – like Lance said.

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5 Budget & the Beach October 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

I need to keep focusing on asking for what I want. I concede so many times thinking well if I don’t say yes I might not get the project, or work with this client again. I think it’s even harder to do that when you know work has been dry. But I should have the balls to stand my ground sometimes, so I’ll work on that!

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6 LB @ Finanical Black Sheep October 9, 2012 at 10:33 am

When my last company decided to finally merge, we were all cut hours-mine were the most drastic. I spent 2 months trying to convince my boss/2/3 owner that I was saving the company money, because I was doing their bookkeeping/light accounting stuff. I eventually got most of my hours back, or at least barely full-time status. Win!

The only problem was I was given new projects every other day, because I guess my boss felt I needed more problems to solve. By then I had taken so much time away from college, I was at finals week without realizing it. I had so much work to catch up on at my job and school that I finally had to let the job go. By then my boss wouldn’t let me take time off for finals, even though the company still needed to save money by cutting hours. Not sure why he wouldn’t let me take time off, after I got my hours back. Either way, I think next time I will be more creative and find the company money, but shoot for more than just an hourly increase and basic benefits back. Oh well, you have to learn some time. I did get what I wanted; I just forgot about school in the process. :p

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7 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager October 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm

What did the company choose?

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8 Christa October 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Very true that the only way to get what you want is to ask. Too bad Jake’s proposition’s been put on hold, but at least he asked. It may still all work out for him in the end.

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9 Matt October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Take initiative and you will get noticed. There is nothing more annoying for a manager than to constantly have to encourage someone to do something.

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10 Household Budget Geek October 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Great post J Money,

I’m a big fan of your blog!

I once worked for a small software company who’s support team consisted of two people, myself and another guy who despite having been with the company for several years never received a raise (he wouldn’t dare ask).

The company didn’t review my salary as promised after my first year – citing poor economic conditions at the time. I spent the rest of the year working hard to make myself more valuable to the company by upgrading my skills and taking on more work and responsibilities.

After my second year I asked them for a raise but this time I presented them with a written offer of employment that I had received from another software company who was willing to pay me about 7K more per year than I was currently being paid for the same type of work.

I turned myself into an invaluable employee over the past year and had gone above and beyond for them. I was very confident they would match the other company’s offer but to my shock and horror they did NOT. I promptly accepted the other offer and gave them two weeks notice.

A few months later I spoke my former co-worker and found out he got a big fat raise shortly after I left the company (he didn’t even have to ask for it).

In the end, I got a raise not just for myself but one for my good friend as well, all because I wasn’t afraid to ask for what I want and by having a backup plan.

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11 J. Money October 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

Sorry I couldn’t hit y’all back up w/ responses yesterday – Gotta watch that baby every Tuesday now! :)

But of course I’ll never leaving you hanging…

@Savvy Scot – YES!!! Loving that international training you pulled for, way to go! That’s dope.
@Parvinder@Readtoawake – I agree – I feel like it’s getting more and more competitive out there, and you’ve gotta be stepping up your game if you want to keep advancing.
@Lance @ Money Life and More – Haha, for sure – It’s def. not for all fields :) But I’m sure you can still push the envelope in other ways with the more conservative companies.
@William @ Drop Dead Money – Oh yeah – if you can’t handle No’s then you need to start working on other aspects of your life first :) Most successful people fail more than they do succeed! At least at first.
@Budget & the Beach – Yeah, there are def. times when you have to suck it up and just stay with the status quo if your job and money is on the line/etc, but as long as you know it’s a phase and you won’t get stuck there forever, then I don’t see any problem with it :) When things pick up again then it’s time to start getting creative again and challenging the rules!
@LB @ Finanical Black Sheep – Haha… a semi-win! ;) That’s pretty cool you were able to stay for so long though and that YOU were the one who left! That takes courage in and of itself.
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – None – they had to pause hiring before they got to that point.
@Christa – Yup! That’s all you can really do too… put it out there and see if the world accepts it :) And at least people know where he stands for the future too, which can also prove beneficial.
@Matt – Heck yeah! Agreed. Especially when all you’re incouraging them to do sometimes is DO THE WORK THEY’RE GETTING PAID TO DO anyways! Haha… If you can’t even do the minimum, why the heck do you think you deserve a raise? You probably shouldn’t even be WORKING here! Haha…
@Household Budget Geek – Wow – that’s pretty crazy though! You did all the work and killed it, and your friend reaped the rewards, haha… you’re good to him! :) But congrats on the new gig and all that hustling too! It’s the only way to move up in the world these days – ya gotta bring something better to the table than all the other jokers (and fortunately for us, there are a LOT of jokers out there, haha…). Keep rockin’. And thanks for reading my blog :)

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