Larry's Lectern by Larry Gilbert Issue #4
Larry's Lectern
by Larry Gilbert
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I humbly offer the words of wisdom, written below. I learned every one of them the hard way during my career of 34 years. During that time, I worked for five companies. I began as an entry-level engineer (where I observed hiring and firing), and ended as a third level manager (where I accomplished hiring and firing). I do not assert that the following “TRUTHS” are absolute. Indeed, your own experiences may well contradict them. However, as I did not observe any exceptions during my career, I am publishing them for whatever they may be worth to you.

1. Your company must treat you as a commodity. This is necessary in order for them to maximize profit.

In return, you must treat yourself as a commodity in order to maximize your income, your satisfaction with your job, or whatever comprises your measures of success. This means that, unlike Japan, your loyalty must be to yourself and to your family before your company.

To be valuable to a company, you must be worth more to them than you are costing them. More than that, you must be costing them less than your replacement would cost them, or you are considered dead wood. This is true even if your replacement is less qualified than you are but can do the job adequately. It is not good to be overqualified for the work you are doing. You will never catch up in responsibility, and consequently, salary. Remember, you will be paid what you are worth to the company, not what you are worth measured by your skill set. If they are underpaying you, it is because they can’t/won’t give you work equal to your capabilities.

Any professional who can organize a project, lead people, meet budgets, communicate clearly, both verbally and written, and earn the confidence and trust of clients, is worth more than he is making, regardless of what he is making.

To maximize your potential, seek a position for which you feel barely qualified. When your employer gives you that position, he has invested his ego in your success and will do whatever is necessary to make you a success, if you ask him to help. The honeymoon period is as much as a year. Use it to exceed the job requirements.

2. Once you get an average performance review, you are no longer on the fast track.

This is the company’s way of telling you that you must forever settle for a position and status no higher than you currently enjoy.

This is a critical decision point in your career. If you want to reenter the fast track, you must change companies. There is no choice. Note, using this criterion, you may know that you are no longer on the fast track before your employer does. It may be sensible to act while your references are still glowing.

To help make this decision, consider that second-level or third-level leaders will have a maximum salary of four or five times the current entry-level salary. Workers and first-level leaders have a maximum salary of three times the current entry-level salary. These peaks occur about 20 years after BS. Beyond that time, the worker will lose ground, percentage-wise.

3. Your company is paying you to make your boss look good. Do so.

You will have a bad boss most of the time. Any good boss you are fortunate enough to have will be promoted and replaced with a bad boss.

If you are the primary person who makes your boss look good, and your boss knows you are the one who caused him to get a promotion, your boss will likely seek to take you with him. You and he are now a team. (This is the only sure way that a “non-salesman” can get a leadership role in a company.) Thus, loyalty to your boss is key to advancement. Go out of your way to determine your boss’s needs and make sure they are satisfied. Water-cooler grousing is a sure way to the dead end. If you have criticized you boss to others in the company, you may as well send out your resume’.

Three Basic Truths of Professional Employment

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