I’m about to tell you something that’s a big departure from the Know Your Value message.
During this pandemic, wherever possible, we need to be willing to roll up our sleeves and take on duties that aren’t part of our job description. And while we’re doing it, we need to be content, without complaint, and focus on thriving at work.
Obviously this is quite difficult, particularly for many working parents juggling their job and childcare. But to the extent you can, this is a time to really try and excel at work without necessarily demanding a promotion or raise in return.
Of course, in the past, I’ve encouraged our community to aggressively go after that raise. I’ve urged you to ask for more compensation when you take on more responsibility and deliver more value. Don’t get me wrong — I still want you to care about equal pay and getting your value. But asking for more in the middle of a gruesome pandemic and generationally awful recession that has thrown tens of millions of Americans out of work may not be the wisest strategic move.
Nearly every company in America is struggling in some way as a result of COVID-19. Asking for a raise or a big promotion right now is probably going to hit the ears of most bosses as an ask from an alternative reality. When companies have less to give, it’s typically not the right moment to demand more. Be patient.
However, if you can do something now to keep the company’s boat afloat, do it. It will likely pay off later.
Let me give you an example.
Recently, I needed to book a hotel room for a family member. Long story short, I was scammed through a bogus website, to which I handed over my credit card information and received a fake confirmation email. I figured out I was duped just hours before my family member was to check in.
I got in touch with a new hotel, but I was shaken. I explained to the woman on the phone, Jennifer Mahl, what had happened. She kindly and quickly took my reservation, assuaged my safety concerns and overall was a total professional. Jennifer even had me send her my previous fake confirmation email so she could help get back the money I was scammed out of. She explained that she was the head of revenue services at the hotel. “I don’t normally work the front desk, but it’s COVID-19 — we’re all rolling up our sleeves,” she explained to me.
This is the type of action that goes a long way, to her customers and, I hope, to her boss.
You should also be thinking about how you can make life easier for your customers, your colleagues, and yes, your manager. A case in point is Know Your Value’s Daniela Pierre-Bravo. I work with Daniela, my co-author of “Earn It,” on a regular careers column for Cosmopolitan.
This summer has been beyond difficult for me, juggling “Morning Joe,” coping with the pandemic, covering the upcoming election and trying to manage our seven kids up and down the East Coast. It’s taken up all of my time, in a way that I could have never imagined a few months ago. As a result, there’s a lot of people I haven’t been able to give as much attention to as I’d like, including Daniela.
In one instance: Daniela had sent me the questions for the Cosmo column, which I didn’t respond to for a week. With the deadline looming, she sent me another email to remind me, noting “I know you are crazed, what I can I do to make this easier?” Another week went by, and I once again failed to respond. When I finally got the chance to work on the questions on my phone, the cut and paste option stopped working, and I gave up. There was embarrassingly more emails from Daniela where I didn’t respond, and I ended up calling her.
Daniela picked up right away. She didn’t mention my delay or the stress she must have been feeling to get our column in. She stopped what she was doing, opened her laptop and we got the column done quickly and efficiently. That’s something I will remember. Even when I failed, she shined. She’s someone I will want to work with again. It's actions like these that management will remember later on.
The takeaway? Do whatever it takes. Go above and beyond. Be positive. Be the person everyone wants to work with. Daniela showed me her value by rolling up her sleeves and just helping the ship sail. That’s what we should all be doing during this uncertain time.
It’s a tough departure to make. Especially because I’ve always talked about how women, especially in the beginning of their careers, end up taking on so many tasks outside their job — like organizing the office parties and baby showers, or stocking the break room. But during this pandemic, you cannot hurt your career by going above and beyond the call of duty to show that you are committed to your company. The result is that your boss is going to realize you are indispensable. So, let’s change our thinking, at least for the time being.