Should you work above pay grade? Well, it depends.
Can you do so without making catastrophic mistakes?
Is there a strategic way you can get the credit without asking for it? Can you make sure that you, and not your direct supervisor or boss, get the credit without causing conflict?
Will performing tasks above pay grade incrementally improve your career over the long term?
Also, will you gain valuable new skills or experiences?
No, you should never endure exploitation when it comes to your job description. For example, If you work in an office cubicle, repairing an air conditioner is above your pay grade.
You shouldn’t be intimidated into doing work above pay grade.
Still, think about those last two sentences. It’s a pretty, “old world,” way of thinking about things, isn’t it?
The coronavirus has caused an economic crisis in the United States not seen since the Great Depression.
Doing anything above pay grade now, as long as it strategically benefits you, maybe a worthwhile endeavor.
We now live an era where a worker can be classified as, “essential,” or, “nonessential.” (Almost sounds Orwellian, doesn’t it?)
70% of people on the planet telecommuted occasionally, part-time, or full-time before the virus.
Most, “nonessential,” employees must work now.
Essential workers now have more work to do and work under enhanced stress.
Anyone fortunate to have work must worry about job security.
Yes, you should try to do tasks above pay grade if it strategically benefits you.
Let’s explain why before we get into how.
The Cost of Living
When you work above pay grade, it can backfire if you aren’t strategic about it. (We’ll get into that soon).
Still, the reward for hard work is usually more hard work.
Also, it’s good to gain new skills and experiences that you can later potentially leverage to your advantage.
Working above pay grade might help you financially. Don’t expressly count on that in the short-term, though it may be possible in the long-term.
One reason to consider performing tasks above pay grade is the fact the cost of living isn’t going to decline just because the economy is hurting.
If you live in a large city you’re likely to pay $1,400 in rent.
The average mortgage payment is $1,000.
Working above pay grade doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a raise. Depending on your circumstances and the difficulty of the task, you shouldn’t expect one.
But there’s nothing wrong with being forward thinking.
Working Above Pay Grade Smarter – Not Harder
OK. Let’s consider the pros and cons of working above pay grade.
Are You Qualified?
Your boss asks you to perform a task above pay grade.
Can you do so without making a catastrophic mistake that reflects badly on yourself or your boss?
I freelance because I couldn’t deal with workplace politics, which is an inescapable part of most salary-based workplaces.
You may be asked to perform a task above pay grade to prevent someone else from looking bad if you fail. (Hate to be cynical).
If you’re too zealous with ambition, you make you and your boss look bad if you fail.
Don’t perform any tasks above pay grade that you haven’t been trained to do, aren’t qualified to do, or are unsure you can accomplish.
I don’t have to tell you about the current unemployment situation in the country.
Believe or not, it was barely two years ago when Americans were confident in quitting a job to look for a better one.
And, that was occurring in a period of American history when job security was more of a relative certainty. (I did say, “relative”).
If you perform a task above pay grade, will you get credit for it?
I am not suggesting that you engage in petty office politicking for your own sake. If you have a fair boss, that won’t be an issue.
However, if you have sketchy supervisors or coworkers, protect yourself with a paper or digital trail.
Send emails that CCs other supervisors asking clarification about the task. Or, do it after the fact if you have questions.
Don’t send 100 messages – just use subtlety to leave a digital trail proving you performed a task above your pay grade.
After all, if you perform the task well, you want to make sure you are credited.
You may be asked to do it again. Or, be potentially remembered when it’s time for potential promotion. (Be realistic and curb your enthusiasm).
Enhancing Skills and Gaining New Experiences
The best reason to perform a task above pay grade, if you can competently do so, is the chance to enhance personal skills.
Performing a task above pay grade may also help you gain a new perspective of how your business works.
Employees are like cogs or gears in a machine. The head boss and supervisors are the operators or mechanics who understand how the totality of the machine operates.
You’re being asked to perform a task above your pay grade for a reason. Your employer doesn’t want to hire someone else, consolidation of duties, etc.
Learn as much as you can and learn how your new tasks benefit your company.
Maybe you won’t get a raise. But you’ll definitely gain new experiences or skills that you may be able to carry over to another job, or your own business, in the long-term future.
How Do You Benefit?
I don’t want you to do more work than your job description demands. Hell, I don’t want to either.
However, we get nowhere in life without realistic plans, determination, and hard work.
Don’t just work harder, work strategically smarter.
Also, don’t perform an above pay grade task you know you can’t accomplish.
View your current job as a multi-year steppingstone to something better in the future.
How will doing so benefit you now, in the short-term, or the long-term?
It may not be fair of a boss to ask you to do such, but life isn’t fair. So, strategically think about how you’ll benefit.
The only thing more stressful now than worrying about COVID-19 is worrying about job security.
Allen Francis was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years with no money, no financial literacy, and no responsibility when he had money. To him, the phrase “personal finance,” contains the power that anyone has to grow their own wealth. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including focusing on your needs instead of your wants, asking for help when you need it, saving and investing in your own small business.