Many of us have our jobs as the main source of income. It then follows that to achieve early financial independence one ought to maximize the amount of money they can make at their job while they are still in employment. The extra money earned should be prudently invested.
In this article I will attempt to demonstrate 19 ways I have been able to earn as much as I can from my years of employment. Pick one or two which seem palatable to you and JUST DO IT.
1. Obtain the right degree. It generally follows that the higher your level of education the higher your salary as far as employment is concerned. Strive to obtain a degree in the right field. The right field is one where someone is willing to pay for your skills/knowledge. Don’t just do a degree because that is what you were given. Don’t do a fancy degree which no one needs in town. You are a rational human being and are capable of reason. Study the market place and obtain the right skills to trade for money. Having a Bachelors degree has opened several doors for my employment.
2. Get a professional qualification. Professional Accountants (ACCA or CPA) command a higher pay in the market place than Bachelor of Commerce graduates. It thus makes sense for one to obtain a professional qualification in their chosen field of endeavor. If you are in marketing you need to become a Chartered Marketer. If you are in Information Technology you can become a Certified Systems Internal Auditor. If you are in engineering get registered by the Engineers Registration Board. There are hundreds of professional qualifications available online. In obtaining a professional accounting qualification I was able to master my work and quickly got promoted because of the extra value I was bringing to the table. My income quadrupled quite quickly. The same is likely to happen if one follows a similar path.
3. Obtain a Masters degree. At some point in my career I noticed that I needed to build my managerial competency. Managers generally earn more money than other staff. So I enrolled in an online MBA which I completed within one year. That MBA has enabled me to command a higher pay in the job market.
4. Change careers. I earned my Bachelors in Engineering a while ago. However I didn’t get to practice much of it. I instead decided to join Finance. At that point in time the pay for a finance career was reasonable. I know doctors who are accountants. Accountants who become lawyers. I know someone who did sciences at A level and then went on to do Law at campus. Be flexible and respond to what the market place wants and is willing to pay for. If plumbing is suddenly in vogue become a plumber.
5. Change companies. I have so far worked for 3 companies in 10 years. Be willing to change companies. You were not born to work in one company until you retire. If you keenly notice people who strategically change jobs end up earning more than their peers. However be careful no to change jobs too frequently as you maybe perceived as unfocused.
6. Take on the most difficult assignments. I have taken on some crazy roles which I was not really well prepared for. There is a difficult role I did where I was in charge of operations of the entire Eastern Uganda. I was overseeing over 300 staff and the targets were crazy. At some point I was chasing after electricity thieves in the hills of Mbale and almost got lynched by a mob. But in accepting this responsibility I was able to grow my leadership abilities and I am quite proud of that experience on my CV.
7. Optimize training opportunities. Take up all available training opportunities even if they may not be in line with what you are currently doing. I remember taking a fire fighting course back in the day. This was one of the best trainings I have ever undertaken. It taught me how to assess risk, work under pressure, work as a team, and deliver results no matter what. I have also learnt a lot of stuff on my own unrelated to my work. I did a course on branding on https://www.coursera.org/. I learnt how to make effective presentations from YouTube. I learnt how to manage people from the Harvard Business Review publications ( https://hbr.org/).
8. Move into management roles. People in management earn much more than the other employees. Strive to obtain a management role. After you are proficient in your technical skills you now need to learn how to manage and lead others. You also need to learn how to manage business. No one is going to entrust you with a management role if you have not demonstrated that you can lead people and deliver results.
9. Negotiate for better pay. Each time I take on a new role I negotiate for a higher pay and other benefits. If you are bringing tangible value to the table it is quite easy to command better remuneration. Simply do your research and then ask. Don’t be shy to ask for better consideration for your services.
10. Take on different roles in the same company. I try and do a different role every year even with the same organisation. If you critically look there are many opportunities to make a difference in your organisation. Every CEO has difficult problems to solve in the work place and they are always looking out for people who can get the job done. Become that person and approach them with proposed solutions you can deliver. I have done all sorts of projects and assignments. I have designed logos. I have managed construction projects. I have restructured departments. I have implemented IT software projects. I have engaged politicians. I have certified different Management Systems. I have optimized office furniture. I have done strategy. Successful implementation of these projects has given me leverage to negotiate better remuneration.
11. Maximize your bonus payout. In various roles I have been able to earn up to 30% of my annual salary as a bonus. This amount was tagged to performance. So I simply decided to perform to the best of my abilities to earn as much bonus as I could. This extra cash was mainly invested in real estate.
12. Join the staff SACCO. I always join the staff SACCO wherever I am employed if one exists. I earn an extra 10% or more from my savings. This is an easy way to leverage the opportunities in your workplace. One can also easily access cheaper credit from the SACCO.
13. Join the staff provident fund. If your company has a provident fund please join it. You can easily walk away with a lot of cash. I remember walking away with several millions of shillings when I left my former employer. This cash was invested in a forestry project.
14. Find a mentor. I have been privileged to have many mentors who have guided my eager mind to new heights. Try and find someone you can emulate in the workplace who can guide you along. Make sure you bring value as well to the relationship. I recall a mentor who really brought out my potential. He constantly challenged me to think and act differently and aspire for the best. In return I brought new insights and ways of accomplishing the task at hand.
15. Exceptional performance. Most top CEO’s I have interacted with consistently deliver results. They usually work harder than the rest of us. Try and emulate the CEO of your organisation for one month and notice how it will change your perspective. Imagine you are the CEO of your organisation. What would you think and do throughout the day? You will think about your customers and if you are really making a difference. You will wonder if your staff are happy. You will be on pressure to deliver dividends to your shareholders. You will arrive at work at 6.00 am and leave at 10.00 pm. You will focus on results and not mere accomplishment of mundane tasks. Once you elevate your level of perception in the workplace you will no longer involve yourself in trivialities like office gossip and complaining about petty issues.
16. Stand out from the crowd. The easiest way to stand out from the crowd is to consistently deliver results in your line of work. Be the guy who gets things done. The guy who is a team player. The employee who has a positive outlook and is willing to take on challenging tasks. The manager who empowers his team. The person who doesn’t steal credit for things they have not done. The employee who is always on time and delivers assignment before deadlines. The staff who doesn’t have to be chased around to deliver assignments. Let that be your brand and the sky will be the limit.
17. Build valuable networks. There was once a senior manager who knew everyone in town. This guy could get you into statehouse with a few calls. He could get you a meeting with the Police Chief. We used to call him the rain maker and because of that he earned crazy dimes. You don’t need to know the Speaker of Parliament to be able to build networks. Build the right networks in your organisation. Make sure the CEO knows you by name and the value you are bringing to the table. Volunteer in professional networks as well. For instance I have served on the ACCA member network panel. I have also participated in my high school old boy’s network. Within the company have good working relationships with your customers, bosses, peers and subordinates. These relationships will enable you to get things done faster and more effectively. You will also get to know of juicy projects or opportunities ahead of everyone else.
18. Know more than everyone else in the organisation. It is quite easy to be better that the average employee by simply knowing a little bit more. The average employee arrives at work at 8.00 am and leaves at 5.00 pm. They take a lunch break from 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm. Simply arrive at 7.00 am and leave at 6.00 pm. Take your lunch break for 30 minutes only. Use the extra 2.5 hours per day to learn about your company, the industry you are in, and the specific job you are doing. I can guarantee you that if you do this consistently for one year your salary will increase! Let’s say you are a teller in Stanbic bank. Begin to read about your company. Download the company’s strategy and annual reports and read them. Seek out a colleague who can explain what these documents mean. Next download the annual reports for all the other banks in the country. Understand where each bank is trying to compete from. Next go to the Bank of Uganda (BOU) website and read about all the necessary regulations starting with the Financial Institutions Act and BOU’s strategy documents. For example one of BOU’s strategic initiatives is to deepen financial inclusion through agency banking. Read about agency banking and see where it has worked. Do you now get the drift! Doing this elevates you from simply being a teller to a strategic business partner with the CEO. Next is to demonstrate this knowledge in the right forum. If the manager is looking for ideas to grow deposits raise up your hand and mention that the bank should build a mobile money app to tap into the digital space. Mention that you have noticed all the other banks doing it and their deposits have grown in tandem. Soon or later someone will pick you up and elevate you to another level. No one is going to promote you just because you know how to count money!
19. Play good politics. Politics is about developing influence and power within an organisation. The people with the most power and influence in an organisation earn the most money. Human beings in any group will always compete to attain the most power and influence.You can’t be oblivious to the fact that some people will try to undercut you on your journey to the top. This is something to be anticipated and prepared for. A coworker may bad mouth you to the bosses. An insecure boss may sit on your potential. A jealous peer may hide valuable information from you. An ambitious subordinate may try to take your job. The general philosophy is to always read any situation accurately and then to act in the best rational way possible. You need to know when you are being sidelined and seek ways to regain favor. Geraldine Ssali’s career at NSSF was prematurely ended probably because she neglected politics in the work place. Read Sun Tzu’s Art of War and Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power and learn how to maneuver in the vast corporate world so that you are not caught off guard!
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