Becoming A Smart Investment

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Becoming A Smart Investment

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Many employees hope for an annual raise, or dream of obtaining a job promotion, but sometimes you have to ask yourself, “Am I a smart investment?”

Smiling professional business man and woman

Recently I wrote about the concept of deserving a raise and one of the ideas I offered was related to being a smart investment for the organization. Later a reader asked me about how to become a smart investment and so from my experiences I’m offering a few additional thoughts on exactly how to do this.

  1. Become the go to person. In many organizations your job often becomes what you make it. Of course in unionized environments this sometimes becomes more challenging but in many other scenarios you might have some flexibility within your job role. Extend your hand, offer to help, be the person to fill in for someone else. All of these actions will help you to learn more about the organization and become more valuable. Often after some period of time of effective execution, you become the go to person for nearly everything, which makes you, a smart investment.
  2. Learn more first. There are at least two schools of thought. The first is that you don’t do anything until you’re paid for it, and while that might sound like a respected position to take it may be the beginning of the end for those who act on it. The other school of thought is to learn more and do more first, then once you’ve already demonstrated a higher value the only step that is needed to complete the process is to obtain the appropriate compensation for your knowledge, skills, and abilities. In today’s workplace the earlier mentioned pay first (don’t do anything until you’re paid for it) mentality often becomes a pay never reality and your opportunities for growth will significantly diminish. This will often leave you feeling angry and resentful. Learn more, do more, be more, and then you’ll be paid more, because you’re a smart investment.
  3. Show commitment. Employers have easily figured out that employee turnover is expensive. Once they’ve made a commitment to having you on the payroll you can return the favor by demonstrating your commitment to the team. Employees, who volunteer for extra assignments, are willing to give an extra effort during a tight deadline, and perhaps most importantly demonstrate continued support to the organization will be the most valued. Socially people sometimes have to take a position, it may be a position in life or it may be a position about the organization you work for. Stick up for the organization by developing the attitude of, “I care about this organization and I know they care about me.” This makes you a smart investment.

One important point to make, you may have noticed there is not any reference to playing organization politics, nor is there any reference to being well liked. While both of these concepts may have some validity I would never suggest either as a strategy. My belief is that you must stay true to who you are and while being liked is not a bad thing, in order to have a solid organizational culture we sometimes have to trade being well-liked for being well-respected.

Considering that multiple schools of thought exist on this issue it will always be up to you to decide your best choice of action. Everyone will quickly recognize that being a smart investment becomes a two-way street that requires reciprocity from the organization. I always urge people to give the benefit of the doubt to the organization and to consider that organizations would be foolish to turn their back on you, after all, you are a smart investment.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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November 1, 2016at 7:05 am

Of the 3 suggestions, which is the most important? Why?

    Dennis Gilbert

    November 1, 2016at 12:42 pm

    Great question. They all have importance and perhaps the correct answer is that it depends on the specific situation. My favorite (which may be different from most important) is #2, Learn more first.

    What do you think, do you have one you believe is most important?


      November 1, 2016at 1:36 pm

      Why #2, Learn more first?

        Dennis Gilbert

        November 2, 2016at 8:21 am

        Why #2? Because I believe that you have the opportunity to become more valuable by giving first. In this example you give some extra effort (where perhaps you are not so skilled), gain more skill and become more valuable. Learn more first. 🙂

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