How important is money to your career satisfaction?

MONEYMAN2Early on in my sales career, I worked for an air freight forwarder.   The job demanded a fair amount of cold calling but supposedly had good income potential, my number one criteria.  “How hard can this be?” I asked myself – ha!  (Ask most salespeople how they enjoy cold calling and you’ll quickly gather they’d have more fun selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door.)

Our sales script was written by the son of the company owner, an accountant. No surprise then that our sales motivation consisted of flash cards liberally posted around the room that read “Call more, make more”. I now see bankruptcy looming in my future.

If I had any chance of making any money, I knew this script had to go. I had to get the caller’s attention quickly. Then I made the fateful call to “Mr. Weinstein.” When his secretary asked me whom should she say was calling, I replied, “Tell him it’s a friend” thinking this was a great end run around the gatekeeper.  When Mr. Weinstein picked up the phone I replied with a sultry ‘hi’ thinking it was funny.  Mr. Weinstein, not amused, replied, “I told you never to call me at the office!”  Embarrassed for both of us, I hung up.

It was at that point I had to rethink my fixation on money. Many people value their careers based primarily on their financial compensation.  Without this barometer, they are lost.  What about you?  Read on …

How important is money to your career satisfaction?  

Recent surveys by the Conference Board compared happiness and salary. The report shows that as your salary reaches your community’s average, your happiness quotient begins to level off. The median used was ~ $52k with a flattened effect at $75k. Not surprisingly, the study further showed if you drive your career with the primary focus on money, you sacrifice your happiness.

Money may attract you to an opportunity but when the newness wears off, so too will the appeal of your salary. When you lose the excitement for your position, it affects your motivation and performance. Those people unhappy with their work see themselves almost always as working for the money. People who are very satisfied with their work report their motivation comes from their accomplishments and the recognition and respect from others. And they view their compensation as a byproduct.

Workers want to elevate their status; that’s natural. Yet, when people are given credible praise informally for their contributions on a regular basis instead of only during annual reviews, they are more motivated and satisfied.

Your reliance on money alone can erode your emotional commitment to your work and weaken your performance.

Test this out for yourself. Consider these questions …
  1. Are you recognized consistently for your performance or your contribution?
  2. Are you given growth opportunities to expand your skills?
  3. Are you involved and able to impact decisions affecting your department and ultimately your organization?
  4. Do you enjoy and respect your co-workers?   Do they respect you?
  5. Is the cultural environment conducive and supportive? If the majority of answers are true, you’re on the right path and probably are already experiencing career satisfaction. If you’re not, it might be time to look at how you can manage your career to turn some of these situations around.

Money is a tangible result of work but recognition for performance creates genuine motivation and satisfaction. This satisfaction also spills over in your other life areas. Whether you’re employed or looking for a new opportunity, a focus on the intangibles will boost your career satisfaction. After all, isn’t that what we all want!

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