“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” – Bob Marley
For years, I have regularly encouraged people to go on job interviews while they are employed. I believe everyone should be interviewing at least once per year. The sole purpose of doing so is to know your value in the market. Here’s why that is important:
Avoid holding on too tight: I’ve seen many employees over-commit to an organization. They entwine their sense of self with the organization so tightly that they have a hard time being objective. There are times when their preferred direction differs from the one the company chooses and these folks struggle with letting their belief go. This struggle may be a sign of holding on too tight.
By checking their value in the marketplace, they may find that it’s pretty high. While they may not act on the opportunity, just knowing that they have options can help them to let go of their need to prevail.
Avoid over-estimating: Conversely, an employee may find their market value lower than hoped. Whatever got them to where they are today may not be enough to get them to where they believe they should be tomorrow. This knowledge may help them to address any attitude or performance issue for one, distinct reason: to avoid rocking what may be their only boat.
Restore your professional spine: We’ve talked before about the difficulty of telling truth to power. When you have a mortgage, rent or other responsibilities, pushing back against the wants of a superior, even when that’s ostensibly your job, can be very difficult. Whether the threat to your employment is real or imagined, knowing that you have options is an empowering place to be. The resulting courage is likely what your management wants from you anyway.
Negotiate with confidence: Whether you’re negotiating a new position or a salary increase, having a realistic view of your worth is worth the effort. Nothing kills credibility faster than insinuating that you deserve an increase because a website says you do. You can certainly use them as reference points for the range or “median rate” but you’ll talk with more confidence if you know what you are worth.
Stay up to speed: The needs of the marketplace change. If you’re not staying aware of those needs, you may be failing your current organization as well as yourself. By interviewing regularly, you get a first-hand view of what other organizations value in a role and the person who fills it. Knowing this allows you to put a plan in place for your professional development. It also gives you hints on what other organizations are doing to increase productivity and efficiencies that your organization may model.
Cut the grass on the other side: The continual belief that the grass is greener in other pastures blocks you from focusing on the pasture you currently tend. Getting rid of the mystery has a sobering effect that keeps you in the present. And, frankly, there are times when it’s best for everyone involved for an employee to go to that other pasture like we discussed in “Quitting To Win”.
All of this may seem like an odd thing to encourage people to do. And, yes, I’ve encouraged my direct reports to do this. I want to work with people who know they want to be with the company. I want to negotiate with people who know their numbers. Few things are more challenging than having someone guesstimate what they need only to be wrong and struggling to make ends meet. That struggle can be distracting for them and the team.
As a manager, you must be confident in yourself and know what you bring to the table. You must also be confident enough to work with people who know what they bring to the table. Those are the kind of relationships that are productive, expansive and memorable.