You Don’t Get Paid for the Hour

If there is one piece of advice I heeded early in my career that has made the biggest impact in my work ethic, and that I also believe a large portion of the work pool doesn’t understand today, it would be these 18 words:

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” -Jim Rohn

There have been a lot of variations to these words spoken by the late Jim Rohn many years ago, but these 18 words are both simple to understand and eloquently describe some of the biggest problems creeping across the workplace today.

As a recruiter, hiring manager, and head coach of the marketing team, my number one mission above all others right now is to build an elite team of people all striving towards the same goal…to help our company reach new heights. As I make this journey, what I often find is people who talk a great game during their interview, only to completely flop at execution once they join the team. It is at this crucial point that I find myself always at a crossroads … debating if the individual is coachable or if I should let them go so our team isn’t held back by their lack of commitment.

I thought I would take a few minutes to highlight some things I have learned over the years that B, C, and D players can use to become an A player.

  1. You get paid to work, not to clock in.

I have been very fortunate that 80 percent of my career has been spent in salaried or contract positions where time clocks don’t exist. As a salaried employee, Jim Rohn’s words make a lot of sense.

It doesn’t matter how many hours you put in, what matters is how effectively you use those hours to accomplish the goals you were hired to do. It’s not uncommon for me to put in more than the standard 40 hour workweek to accomplish the goals. As a creative thinker, some of my best ideas come at 3:00 a.m. when a time clock isn’t around but a computer always is nearby.

Hourly employees often have a different mindset. They clock in at 8:00 and clock out at 5:00. In between, they take their scheduled breaks or lunches. In between those, they find time to chat about things unrelated to their job, surf the Internet, or work on personal projects. But rest assured, when 5:00 rolls around, they’ll be rolling out the door.

To be completely fair, this same description applies to a lot of people in salaried positions, and there are a lot of people in hourly positions who go way above and beyond. But regardless of how you’re paid, studies have found the average worker wastes between 34-50 minutes a day (or almost half a workday a week) on unrelated work activities while on the clock. That accounts to almost 26 wasted workdays over the course of a year.

No matter how your paycheck is calculated, one thing is true above all others … you were hired to do a job, not to take up space. Simply gracing the company with your presence on a daily basis while you take care of things unrelated to your reason for employment will not keep you employed, help you earn a promotion, or make you the go to team member. You were hired because some believed you had the ability to make a difference in their company … prove them right.

2. Your paycheck is directly proportional to the size of the problems you can solve.

I once hired a guy who, by the time he had completed the first day of training, I knew probably wasn’t going to make it on our team. Throughout the day he asked no less than five times when he would be eligible for a pay raise and when he could take on new responsibilities. I finally sat him down and said, “Prove to me you can not only do what I hired you to do but that you can also take it to a new level, then we’ll talk.”

Over the next two weeks of training, he continued to ask some variation of the aforementioned question. His focus was on bigger things, but he never could master the one thing he had been hired to master.

When you’re hired to do a job, master it first before taking on new challenges and responsibilities. Do more than master it! Discover new ways to do it more efficiently, more creatively, or for less time and money. Show you are able to solve the task at hands, and then ask for new challenges. What you will most likely find is the more value you bring to the position you were hired to do originally, the more responsibility you will be asked to take on as you grow with the company.

3. You’re not only cheating your company, you’re cheating yourself.

You wouldn’t show up to soccer practice and spend 20 minutes of a 60 minute practice on the sidelines surfing the Internet. If you did, not only would you be cheating yourself out of the opportunity to develop your skills, but you would also be cheating your entire team out of the opportunity to reach its full potential.

Everyday that you go to work, you are doing more than earning a paycheck. You are developing knowledge and skills that you will carry with you no matter where you go later in your career.

You may think you’re only screwing the company when you spend “a little bit of downtime” checking social media, reading the latest gossip column, or shopping online … when the reality is, you’re screwing yourself by wasting a learning opportunity.

So remember, the next time you have downtime, at the very least, use it to learn how to improve your skills…not your wardrobe or repertoire of completed YouTube videos. Better yet, if you’re truly so far ahead of your other team mates in completing projects, ask them how you can lend a hand to improve the team.

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