John Borrowman III
Borrowman Baker LLC
Note: We first published this article in December 2006. The message is still timely today.
The approach of a new year provides the impetus for a look at the one now coming to an end. Was it a good year for you?
Did you experience the advancement you wanted to see? Did you even have a conversation with the boss – at the start of the year – about what you were expecting? It’s hard to be unhappy at not getting something you didn’t ask for.
Did you reach out and take on increasing responsibilities? Or, did you leave several of those opportunities lying on the table? When the boss assigned steps A, B and C, did you complete the work with an eye on step D? Or E?
If you’re not getting what you want for your career, you have to ask. This isn’t because your boss is cold and heartless. It’s not because he wouldn’t want you to have what you want for your career. It’s just that he has a business to run. Your happiness isn’t the first thing on his list.
And that means that he may not be responsive simply to a “wish-list” that you present to him, either in writing or during a performance review conversation. You’ll need to make the connection for him between what you want and the benefit to his practice.
This isn’t as hard as it may look. Different approaches work in different circumstances, however:
You want to go for formalized training. If your boss doesn’t already provide for this (and especially if he does), make a rough calculation of the costs (including airfare, hotel and meals). In a one-on-one conversation, explain that you’re committed to his seeing increased value from you as a result of the training. Then, find a way to do it; whether through more chargeable hours, more productivity, or whatever.
You want to take on bigger chunks of engagements, or engagements you’re not being assigned to. When it comes to snagging more parts of an engagement, your value to the employer may lie in greater leverage [Translation: Profitability] through a lower composite billing rate on a given project. Getting assigned to more challenging engagements may be a matter of finding connections with what you’re doing now. Is there a template you’re using that could be adapted? Is there a model you’re already familiar with that is also used in the other work?
You simply want more money. The best argument you can make for earning more money – and the one that will have the biggest impact on the boss – is to help him generate more money from your work. The most reliable way to do that is to produce more chargeable hours (in the case of hourly projects) or be more productive in those hours devoted to flat-rate projects.
If you’re intent on making the next year better – and who isn’t – maybe you should look to see what you want. And ask for it.