Here is the secret for getting promoted at my company: “Be a fixer.” And remember, being promoted means more money to go along with additional responsibility.

These are some of the things that I hear at home all the time. Tell me if it sounds familiar to you: “Dad! The TV isn’t working!” “Dad, the printer isn’t working on the computer ” or “Dad, how come I can’t connect to the internet?”

What does this mean in real terms? “Come here right now, and fix this for ME.”

I get the exact same thing at work with my employees. The only difference is that the word “boss” is substituted for the word “dad.”

  • “Boss… The internet isn’t working.”
  • “Boss… The printer isn’t working.”
  • “Hey boss… We need more toilet paper in the bathroom.”
  • “Hey boss… There is a spill that needs to be cleaned up.”

I hear these phrases far too often in my business, and I would bet that ALL owners are inundated with the exact same issues on a daily basis. It is enough to drive you nuts if you are an employer.

I’m going to cut right to the chase today, because this issue annoys me to no end:

The phrase “I’m not paid to do that” should be thrown out of your vocabulary right now.

Why? Because first of all, it is a searing ember in your bosses (or customer’s) ears. It burns right down to their core, and makes them furious.

It makes them furious, because it goes against the reason you were hired (or selected by the customer). Your job—your ONLY job—is to make the life of someone else easier. That was God’s plan when he issued the first commandment in the bible to “Be Fruitful.”

When you say: “I’m not paid to do that,” or “come here and fix this for me,” you in essence are throwing it back up to the boss to find a way to get the job done. And that means he/she has to find someone else to do the job that you won’t do yourself.

Not only does it cost them money, but costs them their own TIME, which is even more valuable to them than money. In fact, that is the ONLY reason to hire an employee. I tell this to my children all the time, to get them ready for their career-life:

“The only reason for employees, is because the boss doesn’t have the time to do everything themselves.”

I’ll say this again, even if you’ve heard it before: the employer wants more time, and he is willing to trade money for it. When you tell him that his money is not enough (by saying, “I’m not paid to do that” or “come and fix this for me”), you’ve basically have said that your time is more important than his time.

At that very second in time, you’ve just limited your chances of promotion and an increase in income. The boss’ opinion of you has instantly changed for the worse.

Saving Other People Time Is A Golden Ticket To Wealth

I have to tell you that having a servant’s attitude is one of the key reasons that my company Apogee Components is growing at more than 20% per year. Even during this recession.

When a customer comes to me with a problem, I try to solve it, and do it quickly. It saves them time, and they are willing to pay handsomely for that. In fact, my prices are much higher than my competitors, and I’ve put many of them out of business. The reason is that the competitors thought their time was more important than the customers. The customers didn’t like that, and even though it cost them a little more, they decided to go where they were treated by someone that valued their time.

For me to value their time, and take care of their needs quickly, I need for my employees to do the same for me.

In fact, the ones that free up my time, are immensely valuable to me. I LOVE them more than they could ever know. I want them around, because my time is more valuable to me than the money I pay them. And they are the ones that will get big raises every year.

How Not To Get A Promotion

A couple of weeks ago, an employee in my office came to me with a list of our products. He said: “Hey boss, I’m just a temp employee here, and I don’t know the products that well. Could you go through this list of 200 products and classify them for me, so that I can update the web site?”

Now he thought that he was doing me a favor. He thought that an updated web site was more important to me in the long run. But what was he doing in reality? He was assigning me work. He was trying to make his job easier at the expense of my time and effort.

At that moment, his value to me dropped like a boulder tossed into the ocean.

What should he have done?

I think the one thing for him to have said was: “Boss, I need help classifying these products. Do you have any suggestions?”

That subtle difference in the phrasing of the request would have made a lot of difference. To be honest, it wouldn’t have increased his value to me, but it wouldn’t have decreased it either. Because he was a temp, I’m was certain now that he wouldn’t ever become a permanent employee.

If he wanted to increase his value, he should have said: “I’d like to have a little time to figure out how to classify these products myself. When I am done, may I have a few minutes of your time to verify that I have the criteria correct?”

That would tell me that he is interested in helping me two ways, saving my time, and getting his job done.

Here are some magic phrases that I guarantee will increase your worth to those you serve:

  • “Boss, I noticed that XYZ was broke. Is this something I would be authorized to fix?”
  • “Boss, there was a problem with this customer. It might be possible to fix the situation by doing XYZ. Do you want me to go ahead and do it that way?”

Not only do these phrases imply that you are saving the boss time, but you are becoming his eyes too. You’re taking in information, and feeding it to him.

If you are in a situation where there are multiple layers of management between you and the owner, you might be wondering how to get noticed. Basically, you use the same phrases. You work for the manager that is directly above you, and you make their life easier.

This sounds hard. And it is. But the manager over you was put there by your employer to free up the owner’s time. Serve that person, and serve them well.

The Bible is in complete agreement with this business tactic. Both Joseph and Daniel were servants to their managers before they rose to the ranks of rulers in the country.

What Should I do if My Manager is a Jerk?

I know that many people do not like their managers. And they want to bypass them and get noticed by the owner. So they will subtly sabotage them by not following their directions or doing what they think is important. They hope that the owner will notice that the manager is not “managing.” The owner notices everything, and they do you see what you’re doing. Trust me, I know.

To be honest, I did this myself when I was just getting started in my own career when I worked for a tyrant of a boss. I even wrote letters to the company Board of Directors letting them know that my boss was an real jerk.

Who ended up getting fired? Right. I did.

The manager was put there by the owners, because at some point in the past, he earned their trust by making their life easier. And I was (to look at it from a different point of view), letting them know that they made a poor decision when they made him the manager. I was telling them that they were incompetent.

How would you (as the owner) like to be called “incompetent” by your employees? You don’t like it at all. It is a rebellious attitude and insubordination. That person has to be fired, before other employees start to think that they can do whatever they want.

This situation is one of my most shameful moments of my career. I had to learn the hard way what I should have been doing. I should have just served my manager as hard as I could.

How Low Will You Go To Serve?

I am willing to go low in the service to my customers. I’ve said before on this web site, that I don’t blink twice about having to clean nasty-dirty toilets. If it needs to be done, I’ll do it.

I do it, because I’m a fixer. I see the problems ahead of time, and I take action to head them off before they become mountainous problems. Most of the time, I’ll hire someone to take care of the problems for me. But I’m not above doing the work myself if it absolutely needs to get done.

I’m willing to do the dirty work to make sure my customers are happy. In this sense, I subordinate myself to others, and I’m really not much different than a prostitute.

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. Ephesians 6:7-8 (NIV)

“Be a servant” is another way of saying “Be Fruitful.” It is how to make money, God’s way.


Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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