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I really like my job. The subject of pay (why people are paid what they’re paid, how they can make more money, and how companies can manage enterprise wide compensation structures in a way that both maintains internal equity and attracts top talent) is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever had the 1. It might even be my idea. If this doesn’t sound weird to you let’s talk sometime.pleasure of learning about.

I also like the people I work with (they are friendly and authentic). I like the company culture (the best way I can describe it is as down to earth). I learn something new every day. There are actually more days than you’d think where I’d prefer to be at work than anywhere else.

This employee is obviously unhappy and should seek external offers of employment.

This employee, however, is obviously unhappy and should seek external offers of employment.

The thing is… if you’d asked me to list the factors I thought would be key to my job satisfaction coming out of business school, actually liking the work I do would have been pretty far down the list.

My job selection criteria coming out of school was (ultimately) as follows:

As you may have noticed I like pictures of list - this time I'm mixing it up though with a person making a list as opposed to a picture of the list itself.

As you may have noticed I like pictures of lists – this time I’m mixing it up though with a person making a list as opposed to a picture of the list itself.

1. Developing skills and critical experiences that would allow me to maximize my compensable value (and lifetime earnings)

Small drop
2. If you don’t understand why critical experiences are ahead of base salary here then you haven’t been paying attention.

2. Starting Base Salary

Absolutely massive drop

3. Everything else (location, sign on bonus, how interesting and meaningful the work was, fit, work-life balance etc.)

The way I looked at it, work was called work for a reason. It wasn’t supposed to be fun. And I didn’t have any energy around “enjoying” work – perhaps because I’d never had a job I “enjoyed” before. Some jobs had their moments, but I fundamentally viewed work as something that got in the way of me learning interesting things (which is really what I would do with all my free time if left to my own devices). 

…So imagine my surprise (and delight) when my job turned out to be interesting.

It was like this

It was something like this: “So…. they’re gonna pay me to do stuff I wanna do?” *baby smile*

Don’t get me wrong… I am fundamentally an extrinsic reward person. Cash 3. I’d have probably been great in sales if I didn’t have an absolute ceiling on how social I can be before I burn out. Introversion etc.incentive lights a fire under me like you absolutely wouldn’t believe… 3 If I could change this about myself I don’t think that I’d even want to at this point, really. Its a part of who I am… the prospect of generating more cash-flow is one of the reasons I’m so energized when I get up in the morning.

With that said, having experienced what it’s like to enjoy what one does, for the first time I believe in intrinsic reward as well. I see now that it’s not just a theoretical concept that people who wish they made more money made up to make themselves feel better (although there is some evidence that extrinsic/intrinsic reward are negatively correlated).

And as a guy who dreams up (ill conceived) variable comp schemes on the 4. In fairness it really is the best way. This blog goes into detail on some of the many reasons why. Great reads if you have an afternoon to kill.weekends and once believed equity was the only real way to retain people, 4 the idea that there is this whole side of compensation that I’ve never fully explored (mainly because I thought it was pseudoscience) is exciting to me.

Anyway, why do you work? There is some interesting literature on the reasons (extrinsic and intrinsic) that people work, but I’m curious to hear other takes.

As always, please share your thoughts below.



If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses: 

SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR rorytrotter86@gmail.com