“Please” is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the phrase “magic word”. However, when it comes to getting more out of your current job you’re going to need the other magic word:
No, not gooooaaaallll but goal, as in
Do something by date for benefit
Goals are your key to a bigger raise and bonus.
They can also be a key to working on what you want at your job.
First, for your raise or bonus. When you approach your manager with something that you want (like a certain dollar amount for a raise or bonus) you’ve started the process of setting up an exchange.
The part you need to find out is what you can do that would justify receiving what you want.
By having this conversation beforehand you are being proactive instead of just waiting to see what is going to happen. You are also going to find out what is really of value to your company or organization.
Something that increases revenue, saves time or money, or gets a project done can all be good candidates for goals.
For example, say you want a $5000 raise but the average is usually $2000. You need to find out what you can do that would justify that extra amount. If you’ve done your homework you may already have a good idea, but if not that’s ok – you will find out by asking.
Some managers only have the ability to operate within the budget they are given. They may not have that much wiggle room to actually change things for you.
To set up this kind of goal you need to talk to a decision maker. A decision maker is someone who has the ability to change things for you. For some companies this may be your direct manager. For others it may be one or two levels above your manager. Sometimes it is the CEO or business owner.
The point is, if you are willing to provide more value to the company than is expected, most business owners are going to be happy to reward you for effort that goes above and beyond what is average or expected for your position and that is going to result in more value for them than they are paying you in exchange.
You may find out in that conversation that there are opportunities you were not aware of that would make it worth it for the company to give you what you want.
Now, I’m not advocating that you spend all of your time at work. Quite the opposite. I am talking about getting very clear on how you produce value for the company so you can focus in on those things that are of the most value and eliminate or at least reduce those things that are less valuable.
Provide the most value possible while you’re working, receive a fair exchange for that value, then enjoy your life outside of work.
It’s not always about money
Goals are a great way to get above average raises and bonuses, but did you know they can also help you work on what you want?
Some companies really put a lot of emphasis on goals. So much in fact that if something is “one of your goals” it actually helps get things approved that may not otherwise get the green light.
For example, say you want to learn more about cloud computing. Your current assignment may not do a lot of cloud computing but you think it could add value.
You can create a goal around getting a certain certification, working with a group in your company that does cloud computing, or even completing an extra project that would add value using cloud computing.
The fact that you have set this as your goal can help when it comes time to get approval to attend that cloud computing conference, sign up for a training course, or set some time aside in your schedule to work with that other team.
You have given a reason for these activities (your goal) and you have justified it with the desired result from completing that goal.
It really is a magic word.
More magic words
A goal by itself may not be enough to get the approvals you need. You may need one more magic word to get what you want.
Company spending can be a mystery sometimes. How can a company spend $100,000 on something that ends up collecting dust in a corner yet resist investing $5000 in a training to increase an employee’s skills?
Training budgets are typically small. Like 1 person from each team can go to a conference once a year small. This may not be ideal but fortunately, there is a way around it.
Just change the name of what you’re doing from a “training” activity to a “marketing” or “sales” activity. Those budgets are usually a lot bigger than the training budget.
Often times there are opportunities to do some extra activities at a conference or training to help the sales or marketing departments of your company yet still allow you to attend and get the training information you want. By doing more than just “attend the training” you open up doors and turn what would have been a “no” into a “yes”
Bonus Tip: Airfare is usually most expensive on Mondays and Fridays since that’s when a lot of business travelers leave and come home. Some companies will let you adjust your travel to stay over the weekend (lower airfare) then let you use the savings toward your extra lodging. This is a great way to combine some time off with your travel.
What magic words have you found work well at your job? How about those that didn’t work? Share in the comments below.