Know Your Value

Life is valuation. From the pears we buy to the people we date, humans are constantly assigning prices to things and acting accordingly. This pricing usually involves some sort of market mechanism where fundamental value plays a role, but remains subservient to supply and demand.

The workplace is no exception. Your coworkers, clients, and bosses assign a value to you as an employee. The primary and most apparent example is compensation. Each employee’s compensation represents the firm’s opinion of his or her value to the firm. By signing on the dotted line, you effectively agree to this valuation.

You don’t get paid what you deserve — you get paid what other people think you’re worth.

Seth Godin

But just like a stock may not be “fairly” valued, you might not be as an employee either. It is up to you to accurately assess what your true value is in any particular situation. Not knowing your value is like playing poker without looking at the cards in front of you. While you can still play and win, you are operating at a significant disadvantage. How do you know whether to bet or fold if you have no idea what the relative strength of your hand is?

Overestimating your value could lead to a nasty surprise when the firm goes through “strategic restructuring”. However, underestimating your value could potentially be worse – you will forever be taken advantage of.

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