After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Contribution Quotient

In a thriving economy, companies are profitable and there are plenty of good jobs to go around.  In that perfect world, there is room for some complacency among company management and workers: room to keep an extra person on the payroll just because you like him/her; room to be just an average worker. 

But in a world of low or no profit, complacency is not an option for businesses or their employees. If your value to your employer is not apparent, your future advancement may not be guaranteed, as much as everyone likes you.

One good measure of your value as an employee is what I will call the Contribution Quotient (CQ).  Basically, it’s a hypothetical ratio of how much you contribute in your position vs. how much you cost your employer.  In today’s economy, not only must your CQ be positive, it must be above the CQ of Joe the Jobhunter (with the impressive resume) who may be eyeing your job.

As a general rule, the further you have progressed in your career, the higher your salary and the more costly you are to your company. In order to maintain a positive CQ, your value must increase in direct correlation to the added cost of paying your salary.  This is not bad news unless you ignore reality.  It simply means that you must always strive to be a higher level contributor. 

Here are a few ways a long-term employee can boost his/her value to an employer and increase the odds of job security and upward mobility.

¾    Be fully engaged in your job. Any qualified individual can “do what is asked.”  The positive CQ individual expresses opinions and suggestions about better ways of accomplishing a task or process. Contributing ideas increases your value to your direct managers and the company as a whole.
¾    Know “everything” about your employer.  Take an interest in the way your company is structured and managed; the location of its factories/offices; the objectives of the company; the centralization or autonomy of its subsidiaries and branches. Inform yourself about your company’s competitors and its place in the industry. A comprehensive knowledge of your business and your company is of demonstrable value and positions you above outside competition and your indifferent peers.
¾    Cultivate your knowledge of and relationships with company personnel:  An understanding of “who-does-what” and a network of relationships with key personnel in your company are values that cannot be replaced quickly by a newcomer.
¾    Regularly exceed expectations.  Make every effort to perform at a higher level than your peers, demonstrating that your productivity and quality of output is consistently in the top tier.

If you find that everybody in your company is striving to succeed and working harmoniously in the best interest of the company, check to see if you are dead as you may be in heaven.  In the real world, you will probably stick out if you are a high CQ employee.

1 comment:

  1. It's also key to be nice to the people under you. If you're in management, there's a good chance much of your work product is actually produced by one of your reports. Reports can be mean - don't mess with them!