What$ Your Worth?

I’ve been selected by my organization to be a member of the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)’s 2014 ACE Leadership program (an amazing opportunity), with the kick-off event taking place last week. Over the course of the event, myself and my comrades were given a taste as to what the program would be like: lessons in negotiation, in-depth personality and management style analysis, leadership insights from industry professionals, and networking-networking-networking. Oh, and the bacon for breakfast was delicious…might even be better than Social Media Breakfast bacon (for realz).

Great discussions happened everywhere, but one that’s really stuck with me took place almost at the end of the conference, during the discussion of negotiating and navigating job offers/promotions, specifically salary.  One participant spoke up, saying that it’s necessary to quantify our work to determine the value of what we do, and that’s what should determine how much we get paid. To provide some background, he’s a freelance project manager/consultant.

Immediately, some backlash started. I was surprised at the vehemence with which some folks denied that this was possible at their organization–this wasn’t how these things were done, and it couldn’t possibly be done in the way he was describing. One of my higher education compadres used the example of how Information Technology couldn’t possibly quantify the impact our services have on a student’s success.

As a parttime freelancer myself, I’m used to quantifying my time, and charging a price for the services that I can provide, taking into account my experience and skill level, so it didn’t strike me as a such an outlandish concept. And, in my normal everyday job, it’s kind of my dream to be more agency-like, with chargebacks to departments for services rendered (so maybe the person who *accidentally* downloads viruses every month would be a bit more careful, and so on).  ITS is generally looked on as a service when, in my opinion, as I wrote in my application for the ACE program…

For organizations to be seen as innovative and cutting-edge, technology needs to be at the forefront. As technological tools become more integrated in different ways ranging from mobile to cloud-based services to big data to a plethora of others, the most significant challenge facing companies today is, in my opinion, building a strategy that can accommodate all of this usage, as well as plans for risk management and leveraging each tool to maximize cost savings, efficiency, and the general work climate.  This includes navigating the natural tension that arises due to the digital divide and people’s natural tendency toward risk aversion.

Some folks don’t agree with the ‘forefront’ opening, but go big or go home, right?

What’s your take on this discussion–should salaries and benefits be doled out in accordance with productivity and quantifiable contributions, or is it impossible?

What do you think?

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