I have to admit this post is a little off-brand for me. I typically keep things unwaveringly positive with a “You’ve got this!” attitude. While I will likely arrive there by the end of this post, I also believe in growth. I believe, from time to time, we need those around us to address blind spots that are keeping us from our true potential. This is one of those times and one of “those” types of posts.
For those among us who frequently use the phrase, “It’s above my pay-grade”, it’s time we had a little chat.
First of all, let me just say that I get where you’re coming from. In the past, I’ve even been guilty of using this phrase. I was overwhelmed by the prospect of taking on something new and generally speaking the things that were being asked of me would be better handled by someone else. Someone with more experience. Someone with more seniority. Someone other than me with “more” than me.
In retrospect, my attitude was off base. How are we going to grow if we don’t consider attempting things that scare us, that will stretch us beyond our current capacity and are truly out of our wheelhouse and above our current pay-grade.
I realize it’s putting the cart before the horse a little, but how else will you know what you're capable of? More often than not, I hear people use the phrase, “It’s above my pay-grade” as an excuse to stay comfortable and dismiss an opportunity for growth.
Please don’t misread what I’m saying here to mean that we should blindly jump into something completely out of our depth or for which we are ill-equipped. This is certainly not my intention
Instead, I want us to reverse engineer our situation and get curious. What would it take for me to handle x, y, or z? Where do I see myself and my career in 10 years? Does figuring out a way to handle x, y, or z bring me closer to where I want to go? Perhaps it doesn’t! And that’s okay but let’s be honest with ourselves and not dismiss these opportunities so lightly with a wave of the hand and an off the cuff, “It’s above my pay-grade”.
Let’s have conversations with our executives and managers about ways in which we would like to grow and the direction we would like to see our careers head in. If you haven’t thought about what you would like your career to look like it’s time to wake up! Wake up from the stupor of accepting what is and start to seriously think about and consider what could be.
I caught a vision for my career by looking at my mentor Marianne. Marianne set a real example of what I wanted in my career. She and her executive trusted each other fully and anyone could see they shared a mutual respect. Marianne hired me right out of college to be a full-time receptionist. I was lucky to be hired in a boutique firm and have primarily stayed in small organizations ever since. I like to learn and grow and have my hands in everything. For me, working for smaller companies has allowed me to experience variety and to present unique solutions that wouldn’t fare as well in larger corporate environments.
What about you? Are you a ladder climber who one day hopes to be assisting the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and manage a team of lower-level administrative professionals? Does working for startups or nonprofits fire you up? Get clear on what you want out of your career and leverage where you’re at to get where you want to go.
Now back to the pesky phrase, “It’s above my pay-grade”. Let’s ditch it. Let’s just let it go and instead adopt the phrase, “I’m capable of anything.”
“I am capable of anything” is equally as true as “It’s above my pay-grade” and far more empowering! Someone spouting this new phrase and corresponding attitude will absolutely approach x, y, or z from a more strategic place with a much higher creative capacity. I’d hang my hat on this person’s success any day!
You might be thinking, “I hear you Annie, but what do I do about the fact that I’m not yet where I want to go? How do I get the tools I need in order to get there?” I’m so glad you asked….
Most of us haven’t found our ideal position yet! Our careers are a journey. What are the parts of your current position that you absolutely love? How can you take those parts one step further? Do you enjoy planning events? Is this the direction you would like to steer your career? Ask to plan more events. Ask those around you how they plan events so you can grow in the ways you need to in order to be a successful event planner.
Do you love building new systems and learning the ins and outs of how to implement them? Make this desire known to your executive or manager. Creating systems that work is one of my passions and I’ve found that people are all-to-willing to let you help with, or even own the process.
It doesn’t matter what it is, if there’s an element of your position that you love - or think you’ll love - step up and ask for more!
Whenever you run up against a roadblock or don’t have fully formed or functioning tools to handle a situation find someone who does and ask for help. Perhaps you know someone who has your dream job. Ask them to mentor you. Invite them to lunch and pay for it (always pay for a mentor’s lunch, it’s well worth the investment and it’s the respectful thing to do). Ask them how they got where they are. Try to figure out why they’re successful and emulate it. Is it their attitude? Their confidence? Their habits? Their systems? Spoiler alert, it’s most definitely all of the above.
Always seek to best yourself! Beat last year’s ‘you’! Last year I tackled my goal of bettering my financial acumen. I brought this goal to my executive and we came up with a plan together for how I was going get the educational resources I needed. You don’t need your executive’s support. Invest in you. Invest in your brain. Invest in the tools necessary to manage your time more effectively. You won’t regret it!
Ask those around you what resources they know of and take action.
It can be overwhelming to consider tackling something new but you guys, we’ve got this! (See?! I told you!)
Be careful regarding the words you speak. They are powerful. They mean something and they may mean more than you’re aware of.
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