Being professionally valuable to colleagues and clients is an ethical, strategic, and purpose-driven choice. You put the work in to attain those 10,000 hours of mastery. Your value is how you deliver on your professional promise.
So why do you feel as though you are constantly justifying your value to others? And why do you feel as though you are (still) perceived as a commodity?
Do you float between feeling professionally valuable or just a professional freebie? That feeling is a sign that your own value and professional model are out of sync with your colleagues’, employer’s or clients’.
Here are four strategies to liberate yourself from professional freebie-ism. It’s time to be professionally valuable!
First, stop being a professional ping pong ball.
You far too easily give away your expertise pro bono, on the promise of being compensated “next time.” Then, you occasionally receive full compensation commensurate with the value you continuously deliver. At the same time you sell the same service to another client at a discounted price point. Ultimately, you end up feeling guilty about your up-and-down and sideways tactics for being “valuable.” Because you have not convinced yourself of your value, first and foremost.
Next, set the value of returning to the physical workspace to deliver your value.
As you return to the world of work, are you going “back” to business models reinforcing “what existed before?” Are you able to negotiate so these models work better for your evolving professional needs and expertise? Then again, is lack of professional options making you feel completely compromised and devalued? Is it (finally) time to develop a hybrid professional model reflecting “what needs to be now and moving forward?” Now consider whether this model is realistic for your current employer or clients. How about a new employer and clients?
Also, as a small business owner or entrepreneur, do you continue to offer products and services featuring ad hoc pricing, depending on what the customer wants to pay?
Whatever price points you rationalized during the pandemic, consider how maintaining this tactic reinforces your professional value moving forward. You just may be commoditizing your own brand and your company’s brand. Believing in your own value, first, reinforces that value to new marketplaces and clients who can afford to invest in the value you deliver. Make your professional promise to yourself. Then keep that promise moving forward.
Then, as an internal colleague and resource, choose to become far more visible as you collaborate.
Why continue to hide in the shadows of others’ ambitions? After all, you upskilled and reskilled. You know a lot more stuff now than you knew before. What is the value of what you learned: to you, your employer and your clients? And how will you translate your value into strategic business and human capital value? Are you willing to stand behind your professional value or are you content to be regarded as a professional freebie? I think we both know the answer to that question. 😉
When you continuously deliver value, there is no more room to waffle between being professionally valuable or just a professional freebie. Thinking about taking action is not the same as taking physical action. Instead, choose to take these next steps to get to where you really need to go.
Change Agent | Collaboration Catalyst | Complex Problem Solver | Professional Innovation | Cross Functional Leadership | Speaker, Consultant, Coach, Author |
- Searching for a coach to catalyze you and teach you how to solve complex professional problems?
- Looking for a meeting or event speaker focused the professional value of collaborative problem solving? Then engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person.
Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset™ programs catalyze people who solve problems differently to collaborate more successfully. Become more professionally visible, cross-functionally relevant, and strategically valuable as you create and implement innovative and robust business outcomes together. Babette is a business-oriented STEM professional, qualitative Voice of the Customer facilitator, PMI-certified Wicked Problem Solver, and Six Sigma Green Belt (Quality). She is a member of the ASQ, SHRM, PMI, the National Speakers Association. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here. Image source: Adobe Stock.