Gini Dietrich

Money Is Not a Motivator

By: Gini Dietrich | December 1, 2010 | 
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In my quest to become a better leader and a better communicator, I read everything I can get my hands on and I practice, practice, practice (my piano teacher, who was also my great-aunt, used to say, “Perfect practice makes perfect).

I likely drive my team nuts at times because I practice on them. Sometimes the skills I’m developing work and sometimes they don’t. It’s not easy being at the top – you don’t have anyone to teach and mentor you. You rely on your (very understanding) team to let you try different things.

That’s why I was interested to read about Google granting 10 percent raises to ALL of its 23,000 employees. It’s not like they can’t afford it, as of this morning they’re now offering to buy Groupon for $6 billion (which, BTW, is just insane money, but that’s a different topic for a different time).

But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that “low-level engineers, product managers, and prominent managers” are leaving the company for high-profile companies such as Facebook and venture-funded start-ups.

So, in this economy, when no one is getting raises, people are leaving Google in flocks for companies that are more nimble because they want to see their efforts affect change.

A few months ago, after I read Dan Pink’sDrive,” I wrote a blog post about paying people for their ideas and why it doesn’t work. I got A LOT of push-back in the comments. The comments were that it didn’t matter what their job, if they were paid a lot of money to do it, they could manage. My argument is that you could be paid $500,000 a year to sit in the middle of a warehouse and watch paint dry and you couldn’t stand it longer than a week.

Now ex-Google employees have proven me right (I love being right!).  They’re leaving in droves because the company is too big and it takes too long to get things done.

We want to see our work rewarded in ways more than just pay. We want to see we are affecting change.  Sure, we want to make money, but that’s not what motivates us. We’re human beings and, because of that, we have forgotten about our raise a week after we receive it. But what keeps us motivated, day after day to get up and go to work, is the feeling that we’re part of something.

It’s a shame Google has now reached what Les McKeown would call “death rattle.”  And it’s a shame they can’t keep their talent, even with raises and bonuses when the rest of the country is still underwater. Let’s hope Facebook and these venture-backed start-ups don’t face the same thing in a few years. And let’s hope I can keep growing Arment Dietrich and build Project Jack Bauer with a culture that rewards people for making change and taking risk.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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