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Manager’s Corner/What Value Do You Bring?

by Liz Weber

I had a conversation a few years ago with a young woman who told me how wonderful her boyfriend was. He was her comforter, her source of laughter, her cheerleader, her problem solver... When she was done listing all of his wonderful attributes, I simply asked her, “So, what do YOU bring to the relationship?” She didn’t have an answer. I suggested she consider that question, because any strong relationship requires both parties contributing something of value to make it work over the long-term.

During these tougher economic times, many of us are going to face layoffs and difficulty in finding new employment. Because of this, it’s time to take a hard look at ourselves and ask “What Value Do I Bring to a Prospective Employer?”

Many of us have gotten rather lazy over the past several years because the unemployment rate in the Quad-State region was so low. Jobs were available everywhere. Employers were desperate for help. Because of that, if we didn’t like the way one of our co-workers treated us, we’d simply not show up for a day or two. If we thought we could get more per hour working someplace else, we’d leave without warning. It was an employee’s market and employees knew it. Employees didn’t feel any obligation to employers. “Job-hopping” was the norm. However, with the economy slumping, many businesses are seeing dramatic declines in business. Because of this, they’ve had to lay-off staff. Guess which employees are usually the first to go in lay-offs? Employees who have poor performance, attendance, attitudes, are least skilled, and the newest hires, are often the first to go.

Given this, it’s time to look at the changed economy from the business owner’s perspective. As a business owner who has to operate with a reduced staff, what type of employee do you want on your team? You want employees you can count on. You want employees who add value to the organization. At a bare minimum, the business owner brings a paycheck to the relationship. What does the employee bring?

Before you submit your next resume or have your next interview, ask yourself “What Value Do You Bring A Prospective Employer?” You need to be very clear, what value YOU bring to them. Simply showing up for work isn’t enough any more. There are a number of people willing to show up for work. What positive skills, attitudes, performance and attendance records do you bring?

If your past history isn’t terribly strong in these areas, it’s time to change that pattern, because the economy has changed. Jobs are not going to be as easy to find. You’ve got to bring value, develop value, and maintain value for the employer.

I recently heard a great quote by Warren Buffet. In light of the changed economy he said, “When the tide goes out, it’s easy to see who’s been swimming naked.” The good economy let many of us get by on providing less value than we could. Now’s the time to show what we’re worth.

©2003, Liz Weber. Weber is President of Weber Business Services, LLC Business Consulting, Training & Speaking - Specializing in Strategic & Business Planning and Leadership Development. Sign-up for Liz’s “Manager’s Corner e-Zine” at

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