Knowing and Growing Your Worth in the Workplace


You’re the first person in the office every morning and the last one to leave at night. The word “vacation” is not in your vocabulary. There’s always more work to be done.

Sometimes you feel guilty about being a working mom, but you love your job and your professional identity is important to you. Besides, your hard work has paid off. You have the best stats in the department, are liked by everyone and you’re the first person your boss calls in a crisis. So why are you regularly passed over for promotions and salary increases while the new guy in the next cube who spends most of the day watching YouTube videos is about to become your manager and score the raise that should be yours?

If this scenario rings true for you, you’re not alone. Even women like Mika Brzezinski, co-anchor of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and the best-selling author of "Growing Your Value: Living and Working to Your Full Potential," have been in your position. Brzezinski says it took decades for her to learn how to negotiate on her own behalf. It wasn’t until 2007, when she joined co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist on "Morning Joe," and was privy to their salary negotiations, that she realized she needed to change her approach. She later learned that the male anchors were being paid substantially more than she was.

"Growing Your Value" is Brzezinski’s fourth book and the sequel to her 2011 New York Times best-seller, "Know Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth." The new book builds upon the themes of the previous one, using the experiences of Brzezinski and other high-powered women to provide readers with tools to develop their personal brands and advocate for themselves in their professional and personal lives.

She’s even taken her message of empowerment on the road with appearances during her "Know Your Value" tour in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. this past Spring and a Keynote address at the annual SHRM conference in Las Vegas in June recently. Brzezinski’s tour will also include stops in Boston and Orlando this fall, so if you missed her at SHRM and live nearby you still have another chance to see her.

In a recent interview with women’s magazine, Marie Claire, Brzezinski told writer, Samantha Leal that one of the main reasons women don’t get raises is because they are “terrified” to ask for them.

"For some reason, women have it in their heads that people won't like them, that they'll be completely put aside. We need to move past this. This is important. What you're asking for is important…we feel a sense of guilt…we feel the opposite of what men feel," she says.

Many women have trouble taking credit, acknowledging their accomplishments and reminding their employers about how much they contribute to their companies, says Brzezinski. That’s where the message of her last book, "Know Your Value" comes in. If women don’t recognize their own talents, how can they convince their employers of their value? Instead of tooting their own horns, as they should, Brzezinski says that many women may preface discussions about salary increases by apologizing for asking.

"If women want to kill at the salary negotiation table, they have to learn to stop apologizing," Brzezinski told Yahoo Finance in February 2015. "As women, we sometimes apologize for everything," says Brzezinski. "And it’s the most self-destructive, undermining trait we can bring to the negotiating table. It costs us in dollars and cents."

So, what should (and shouldn’t!) women do when negotiating salary? Brzezinski recommends these five strategies:

1. Don't apologize

Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for a raise you have earned.

2. Command respect

Don’t be afraid that your boss won’t like you if you ask for a raise. Negotiations are not about making friends. They are about knowing your worth and getting the best deal you can.

3. Make your case

Don’t go into a negotiation without data that shows your employer why you have earned a raise and exactly how you bring value to the company.

4. Do your research

Find out what others in your field and at your level are earning to make sure you don’t sell yourself short. Bring that information into your salary negotiations, "It can be an awkward discussion to have with people you work with," admits Brzezinski, "but everyone should do what they can to figure out what others on their level are being paid."

5. Learn from mistakes

If you aren’t successful in every professional negotiation, don’t dwell on it. "Failure is a badge of honor," says Brzezinski, "I know because I have failed many times publicly and it has only made me better. Failure is an incredible learning tool. It’s far more honest than success."

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