Embrace Your Inner Lackey

Have you been given a crappy assignment?

Is your job your field’s equivalent of disassembling the drainage pipes in the building and cleaning them?  Is it beneath your skill set?

Pride goeth before the fall.

News flash: No one’s hiring people with PhDs in operating an abacus anymore. The same may go for your skill set, too.

The key thing to remember about crappy assignments is that very few people embrace them well enough to get good at them.  Yes, it’s true that if you get really good at a job that nobody else wants, you might be assigned to that job for a very long time. Unfortunately, if you do a mediocre or bad job at it, you may not have any job for very long.

Maybe you’ve been assigned this crappy job because people believe that you can turn things around. Do you want to prove people who believe in you wrong?

Maybe you’ve been assigned this crappy job because people expect you to fail. Do you want to prove those people right?

Embrace your inner lackey.

Find the angle that you can own and attack it.

What is this “merit increase” thing?

Have you worked in a job at a time when people with your skill set was so in demand that people would throw you bags of money?  Did you notice that, come raise time, the barely competent among your peers received increases nearly twice the rate of inflation? At the same time, the superstars would receive about 1-2% more.

Meanwhile, in less exuberant times, the superstars have to claw and scratch to keep pace with inflation.

Sometimes, these pay raises are termed “merit increases”.  Many times, they’re not even cost-of-living adjustments.  In any case, if money was to be a motivating factor and effort required a demotivating factor, the employee who is doing barely enough to earn a “merit increase” is coming out ahead.

If money isn’t supposed to be motivating, what’s the point of expending the effort to determine who should get what increase?  Just give a flat percentage or amount increase.  After all, all these calculations for who gets what result in a very small difference between employees, and can easily be seen by your superstars as a slight against them any way.

Back to the “merit increase” terminology.  Can we just can call it a “random crap shoot budget allocation” increase, or maybe if you work for a less coddling organization, a “you’re lucky you have a job” increase?