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Paul Burri: Are You As Good As You Think You Are?

Friend's remark raises an interesting point in employer-employee relationships

Over coffee with a friend recently, we were talking about past work experiences and he told me about a time when he had held a very responsible job at which he was very good. I had a similar experience in my past history. Then he went on to make an interesting remark.

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

He said, “If you are working for a company (or an individual) where you have to ask for a raise, you are either working for the wrong company or else you are not nearly as good as you think you are.”

As I said, I had a very similar experience in my work history. For nine years, I worked for a man, Ken, who owned a job-shop machine shop. He was the “outside man” calling on customers and bringing in the work. I was the inside guy responsible for the entire operation of the business — other than sales. In all honesty, this was where “the rubber met the road” because we were in a highly competitive business and it took good management skills, good manufacturing skills and good business skills to produce the highly technical products, within the critical specifications, on schedule and to do all that at a profit.

Now I’m not just saying all this to pat myself on the back. For years after I left the company, Ken was still telling people that I was the best manager he had ever had. Also, at lunch with his son years later, his son remarked to me, “You made my dad a very rich man.”

And in all the years that I worked for Ken, I never once asked for a raise, believing as my friend does, that I shouldn’t have to ask for one. But I never got the monetary recognition that I should have and to this day it still bothers me that 1) I wasn’t compensated fairly and 2) that I didn’t ask for a raise. (Of course, I have no one to blame for myself for not asking.)

To expand on my friend’s contention that you might be working for the wrong company if you must ask for raise, should I have moved on sooner than I did? While I agree that an employer should recognize and compensate excellent employees, I believe there could be other factors affecting an employer’s failure to do so. But I also believe it is a mistake not to ask for a raise when you honestly believe you deserve one.

Just be sure you really are as good as you think you are.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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