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What’s better than money?

Okay, so last week I had my yearly review here at work, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

On one hand, I got the “We’re still in transition and the budget is tight” script (ie: don’t order a pool), but at the same time, my supervisor have some VERY nice things to say about my work this year and was extremely complimentary; going out of his way to make me feel valued and an important part of the team.

So, first, let me ask you this:

Are you a “make me feel important,” or a “show me the money” kind of employee?

(Understanding that there’s nothing wrong with either take.)

As I thought about our meeting, over the course of the weekend, I realized that as much as I would have liked a big, fat raise, the acknowledgement was pretty great. I’ve worked for companies in the past where you got your yearly “cost o’ living” raise, but no one ever had anything to say about your work, unless you screwed something up.

This just didn’t do it for me.

A few years back, my wife and I read:

The Five Love Languages


And I realized that my preferred “language” is verbal praise & gifts; so this is something of a two-edged sword for me. On one hand, my boss didn’t have much to offer me in the way of “gifts,” but he did do everything in his power to let me know how much he valued me and how important I was to the team.

Am I just a hopeless narcissist? Because, given the options, I think I’d rather be acknowledged for the hard work I’m doing, than just be given more money and left to feel like another replaceable cog in the machine.

Obviously, the best of both worlds would be a slap on the back AND a big fat raise, but given the option…

Which would you prefer and why?




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4 thoughts on “What’s better than money?

  1. My very pragmatic father once told me this: “Title means nothing… What are they willing to pay you for what you do there?”
    To which I would retort (in my rebellious youth) with something witty and eloquent like “NUH UH!!!”
    He would then say: “If title means something to you, ok, we’ll call you “King of everything”… there, feel better?”
    I didn’t feel better.

    OK… I worked (for 7 long years) at a company where my boss was well, an ass. He was the type of person who was VERY reluctant to give praise because his opinion was that if he praised you for doing something right, you wouldn’t strive to improve. His thought was that if you got ANY positive reinforcement, you’d stagnate in your little pool of self-satisfaction and never work hard to climb the ladder.

    Wisdom tells us the opposite.
    I didn’t say he was wise.

    I would go into reviews and get reticent praise about my contribution to the team with the appropriate caveat story about my shortcomings here and there. Regardless of what my BOSS would “say” about my employment verbally, I knew I was at least surviving the layoffs for a reason.
    I would survive round after round of layoffs and I would regularly get new added responsibilities because I would do a good job working on my current tasks. I must have been doing SOMEHING right.

    My last annual review there was, like all the rest, filled with tenuous praise and plenty of comments about my weaknesses. For all my efforts over the past year I would be rewarded with 11¢ / hour raise. That worked out to roughly a 0.6% raise after one of the most stressful and frustrating years there.

    I wasn’t enthused.

    I removed myself from that job within a month of that meeting. During my “exit interview” with our excuse of an HR person, they had me fill out the ‘why are you leaving’ section of their form… I wrote: “11¢”

    There. I’ve told my little story. Basically, you’re not working there for the praise. I have NEVER been able to buy my groceries by telling the checkout lady how wonderful she was doing at her job. For some reason, they STILL called the police when I walk out after praising their efforts wonderfully! Jerks!

    With that said: If you really DO see an opportunity for advancement in your future, then it’s OK to stick it out until things might improve. But we know the company you work for, if things are tight now, they’ll likely continue to be tight in the foreseeable future.

    And with THAT said: I know you’re not looking at this place as your career. You’re an author (and things are looking great on that front). You’re mending tents right now. They like you at your job… that’s a plus. Show them you’re willing to be flexible. You have your eyes on the prize and you can survive the tight budget world for a while.

    My 2¢

    – chris

  2. Right on, Chris. There’s personal satisfaction, and there’s the paycheck. I’ve always judged my “success” in a job by the money I make. Titles are cheap.

  3. iwork4xerox on said:

    Thanks for the input, folks!

    In all honesty, I still have to hold to my original position. I like to think I’m at least of average intelligence, and I’ve experienced, as you apparently have, the bestowing of “empty titles” before.

    I think if I had recognized this as being corporate quacking, I would have felt very differently. The issue, for me, came down to one of sincerity.

    I felt like my supervisor was sharing his honest opinions, and doing the best with what resources he had available.

    Maybe it’s just the difference between knowing that you are really appreciated and empowered, vs. suspecting that you’re just being stroked into submission.

    Btw, thanks for the kudos on my writing, Chris, “From your lips to God’s ear…” lol.


    PS – I loved your “exit interview” comment. Succinct!

  4. In the past, assuming I enjoyed the job I was doing, complements and sincere praise when warrented have motivated me to continue to do a good job and improve where needed. Money motivates me to put up with the rest of the “stuff” involved in in the corporate world. At one place of employment, an old timer once told me “the ammount of ‘BS’ I’m willing to put up with is directly related to the amount of money I make.”

    I agree with Chris-

    With that said: If you really DO see an opportunity for advancement in your future, then it’s OK to stick it out until things might improve. But we know the company you work for, if things are tight now, they’ll likely continue to be tight in the foreseeable future.

    The world of business is all about the bottom line, I’ve never understood why corporations don’t think it should be the same for the employee.

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