Gini Dietrich

Money Is Not a Motivator

By: Gini Dietrich | December 1, 2010 | 
66

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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66 Comments on "Money Is Not a Motivator"

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HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 6 months ago

I myself work for Pistacchios and Mocha Lattes. Money? Not so much.

I know very unhappy miserable rich people. I also know exceptionally happy poor people. I think we all get different things from life. But as your example with Google if we don’t have passion and reward from what we do, money is just a band aid. That will fall off…especially after it gets wet.

T60Productions
5 years 6 months ago

Good one Gini. I’m sure many of us entrepreneurs agree with you. The funny thing is the harder you work at pursuing something you love, money seems to find you. Our businesses don’t all reach Google, Facebook, or Groupon levels, but certainly high enough to make a good living… all while doing a job you love.

Can’t beat it!

–Tony Gnau

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@T60Productions You are SO RIGHT! The money always follows if you’re doing what you love.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@HowieSPM I work for shoes and wine. We’re not do different.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@HowieSPM Or so different.

patrickreyes
patrickreyes
5 years 6 months ago
I won’t be saying anything new but agree with you. Money isn’t a motivator. I left a company for a bigger paycheck and was back at the old company 11 months later. In my latest move, I left said “old company” for a brighter future that would allow me to grow professionally, learn a lot, have a flexible schedule (and not have to be in the office at 4:30am) so I can take my kids to school 4 days a week. Not to mention my commute got a ton better. Definitely the right move but money was not the main… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@patrickreyes I wonder if we begin to realize lifestyle is more important than money in our 30s? In my 20s I definitely worked for the monetary rewards, but also the promise of the BMW if I made partner.

patrickreyes
patrickreyes
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich I’d say so especially when you get more responsibilities (career growth, family, etc.).

anniefiddle
anniefiddle
5 years 6 months ago

Gini, thanks for another great post.

I think this holds true over a certain threshold, although I’m not sure everyone has the luxury of being able to choose a creative, inspiring job over one that pays the bills.

If a company was paying me poorly and I knew they could afford it, I’d be inclined to leave because I wasn’t valued by the company, rather than because the money was poor.

Annie

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 6 months ago
@ginidietrich @patrickreyes If you live in Los Angeles you wind up hating BMW owners. I think LA is the worst thing to ever happen to that brand. I am still recovering. Great car but the drivers in LA prove why it was where Road Rage Shootings were started LOL To Patricks point I was working for a company exploding during the Dot.com boom. HQ was in Silicon Valley and the people there told me they would get 5 calls a day trying to steal them away. The ones who left found their work hours increase by 50% weekends now they… Read more »
HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich damn I need to return the Colt 45 forty ouncers I had gotten you for Xmas. and its raining out. Sigh. But I can safely keep the Crocs yay!

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
5 years 6 months ago

I agree money isn’t the main motivator but I would like to sit in that warehouse for 7 days and watch the paint dry – I could take PTO to do it and it would bring about $9,000 to be bored to death! Seriously good post – I’ve done the big agency thing and much prefer being at Arment Dietrich where the CEO asks my opinoin! One of the many perks of the job!

HelenKitchen_PR
HelenKitchen_PR
5 years 6 months ago

My son’s football coach says “Practice makes permanent makes perfect” but I like your “Perfect practice” mantra more! It’s a long way up, but I think I’m on the right ladder – and I’m having a great time learning and connecting. Money – who needs it!
Actually you have a point about shoes and wine…
Thanks for sharing again.
Helen

janbeery
janbeery
5 years 6 months ago
Gini,I’ve lived in the culture of growing up the corporate ladder and going for the almighty dollar. I walked away from some great opportunities in the last several years and took the plunge into leading my own team. The support and mentoring I love as a business owner/leaders comes from my network. I have found, (now far beyond my 30’s) that happiness and being a part of something that helps others is so rewarding. There’s a great book by John Ortberg called “It all goes back in the box.” Worth the read, it’s so true. As for me and my… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@HowieSPM @patrickreyes Um. I drive a BMW.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@anniefiddle I agree with that, Annie. I think the basis is that you’re making enough to pay your bills and being paid for your level of expertise. If you’re being poorly paid, you likely aren’t enjoying your job for the lack of culture and the immense amount of red tape anyway.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@PattiRoseKnight LOL! This literally made me laugh out loud! Now I know what you’re doing with your time off next year!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@HelenKitchen_PR It’s like the old days, but instead of chickens and pigs, we get shoes and wine!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@janbeery SUCH A GOOD POINT! When I started Arment Dietrich, I joined Vistage and began to build this perception of what a successful company looked like, just from being around the other members. What I didn’t know is that just because your revenues are high and you have 30 people does not equal success (though it looked it). We weren’t making any money and I was miserable! It was a hard lesson to learn (and an expensive one), but now I know I want to be doing what makes me happy, not what other people define as success.

janbeery
janbeery
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich See… You’re on the right track! It’s about quality of life. Um. I too USED to drive a beamer! Missing that heated steering wheel about now!
This is a wine conversation! We have GOT to do this!!!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@janbeery If I weren’t so stinkin’ sick, I’d suggest tonight or tomorrow night!

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich @patrickreyes But not in LA. Big difference. Don’t drive it to LA. Rent a car if you go there. Your image is too pristine to risk it.

designinabag
designinabag
5 years 6 months ago

I hate to be cynical here, but I seem to remember reading that employess were leaving Google in droves because of the lure of the almighty dollar–companies which haven’t had an IPO, like FB, offer big cash and the possibility of an even bigger payout through an IPO or purchase, a la Groupon. Google is having many employees poached by these companies and is taking defensive action.

I’m sure that some emplyees are leaving becasue of ideas and ideals, but my guess is more are leaving for the $.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@designinabag Hmmmm…where did you see that? I read stories in Fortune, NY Times, and HBR and they all said the same thing, “Google’s gotten to be a lot bigger and slower-moving of a company,” said the former manager, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity to protect business relationships. “At Facebook, I could see how quickly I could get things done compared to Google.”

KevinVandever
KevinVandever
5 years 6 months ago
Even though it’s more fun to try to prove you wrong, I’m with you on this because I have experienced it first hand both as a business owner and as an employee of a company. Money is nice and more money to do the same job is even nicer, but in the end, it alone will not always keep one motivated. Depending on where you are in life, different motivation factors come into play. I think you said it in one of you replies, but sometimes, when we’re young, money is the first motivator, but as we get older, our… Read more »
designinabag
designinabag
5 years 6 months ago
@ginidietrich One source is TechCrunch, here is a link detailing offers and counter-offers from Facebook and Google. http://su.pr/26XCiV. “ “Sources close to Google tell us that about 80% of people stay when they’re offered a counter to a Facebook offer. But some still leave. Part of that may be that Facebook is quietly telling people, never in writing, that there’s no reason their stock won’t hit $100 billion in total valuation over the next couple of years. No guarantees, yadda yadda, but hey if you get 1/10 of 1%, that’s $100 million in stock. Now it’s a party.” Again, I’m… Read more »
HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 6 months ago
@designinabag @ginidietrich I have a Finance Degree and I don’t value Groupon at $6b and I sure don’t value FB at $33bil. I see Facebook as worth about $10bil. Doesn’t mean they won’t go public and the public get snowed and buy high. But it costs $9 to buy $1 of Apple sales and at $33bil in value $22 to buy $1 in Facebook sales. And Facebook is only making less than $3/user per year. Obviously more upside in the FB stock price because Apple is sky high but Apple makes products and dominates some industries and tech niches. Facebook… Read more »
JMattHicks
5 years 6 months ago
“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.” If the fumes didn’t get you first. I understand what you’re saying. In this economy, where money is as tight as it has been in decades, it’s very unusual to see people leaving a job after being offered a raised, much less an immediate raise of 10%. But I think it also speaks volumes of the Silicone Valley culture. I’ve never been anywhere like it. Ideas for your… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@designinabag If people leave for money, alone, it’s the grass is always greener mentality. And the grass is not always greener, no matter how many of them you have in Ben’s.

designinabag
designinabag
5 years 6 months ago

@HowieSPM @ginidietrich You are absolutely right about valuations, IMO–note to Groupon, take the money and run. And personally, I wouldn’t want to work for a company which didn’t fit my ethos, however, in these difficult times we seem to see more and more examples of people who do just that, at any cost.

designinabag
designinabag
5 years 6 months ago

@HowieSPM @ginidietrich Of course, FB’s 33 Billlion in cash is real…

designinabag
designinabag
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich I totally agree personally.

rachaelseda
5 years 6 months ago

Love this post. It really reminds me of Tony Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness’. It’s completely true, money is not everything. It’s something, and it can be used to “show” someone that their hard work is appreciated but regardless it is not what makes you happy in the workplace or life. If you are not doing what you love and you don’t feel like you are making a difference…then my question is, why are you wasting the little time in life you have for a paycheck? To me, sacrificing my dreams, goals and happiness isn’t worth any material possession.

rachaelseda
5 years 6 months ago
@JMattHicks You make a really good point. I guess you would have to put the “entrepreneurial destined crowd” aside. I think ultimately being apart of a good work environment and being challenged and stimulated at your job comes before a few thousand dollars more a year. At the end of the day if you’re not passionate about your work and you don’t feel like what you do means anything – you probably won’t stick around long (or you shouldn’t at least). And for those really talented employees at Google – perhaps they are the ones with the courage to do… Read more »
TMNinja
TMNinja
5 years 6 months ago

@JMattHicks Great points. Really like your thoughts here.

Very interesting around the top talent and their attitude towards using their talent where they want… not necessarily where their company wants.

– Craig

rachaelseda
5 years 6 months ago

@PattiRoseKnight Haha you are too funny! I was laughing out loud too seriously. You may have a point…I could do it for a week. One questions is napping in a chair off limits while sitting in the warehouse?

jeanniecw
jeanniecw
5 years 6 months ago
This is such a big, meaty subject and I’ve seen it from so many angles. I do think there are certain *types* who are motivated by money, but I agree with you on the overall take here. I also believe that some people who start with a small company that grows to that big and unwieldy stage NEED to leave. They are not the right people for the NEW company. I tend to work with companies making that shift from small, entrepreneurial, hip places to work to bigger, more structured organizations. This shift is a critical point and one that… Read more »
RandyClark
RandyClark
5 years 6 months ago
I am not motivated by money. I recently took an initial 50% pay cut to take a position I love. I am motivated by recognition, being part of a time, and believing I am helping. With that said, some people are motivated by money. I worked for an S corp. owned and managed by someone who was money motivated. I tried to teach this person not everyone was money motivated, not everyone thought as he did. If he wanted to motivate his team he must take the time to learn what motivated members then make that possible. For me to… Read more »
jenhp
jenhp
5 years 6 months ago

Great post. I took my last job simply for the money and I was beyond miserable. I always said I wouldn’t do that and then when I did, I proved myself right (and, like you, I like to be right).

jenhp
jenhp
5 years 6 months ago

Great post. I took my last job simply for the money and I was beyond miserable. I always said I wouldn’t do that and then when I did, I proved myself right (and, like you, I like to be right).

JMattHicks
5 years 6 months ago

@rachaelseda “I think ultimately being apart of a good work environment and being challenged and stimulated at your job comes before a few thousand dollars more a year.” That’s key. It takes bravery to do that, it means taking a risk. And often times, when our bravery is screaming to be let out, money shuts it up. But, when that bravery can spit that money out and go for it, the reward is far, far greater than the initial cost.

JMattHicks
5 years 6 months ago

@TMNinja Thanks Craig!

Brigitte
Brigitte
5 years 6 months ago

I one hundred percent agree.

JonHearty
5 years 6 months ago

Silicon Valley is traveling at hyper speed and it doesn’t take too long for the talented ones to get fed up with the slow-moving environment of a massive company. The potential to change the world and make millions – or billions – is incredible, but only the fastest of the fast are rewarded. I hope the shift from large-scale companies like Google to smaller, “more nimble” ones, as ginidietrich put it, like Facebook continues and spawns may new exciting startups (which will most likely be acquired by Google – the circle of life in Silicon Valley).

joey_strawn
5 years 6 months ago

I see this more and more at my current “day job”. People are being tread upon and their ideas squashed while people see bad management tactics being employed and employees blamed for upper level mistakes. Is it any wonder that people leave in droves? I don’t think so.

There’s an interesting gap between where someone will stay because of the money and what’s unbearable, but once companies understand it’s about the individuals working and their employee experience both the workforce and the quality of work will improve.

At least that’s that I think.

Katjaib
5 years 6 months ago
After reading some of the comments here, it may be true that some are leaving Google for the shot at get-rich-IPO potential. If you combine that with the chance to do work you love, it’s a total win-win. But in the long run, if it’s only about the money, that money will come in handy for therapy after you start fantasizing about driving into bridge abuttments. A few years ago, after taking a few months off to care for a loved one, I was offered some slightly insane money to do work that sounded exciting, far-reaching and creative. A few… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

Mr. D and I were talking about Groupon last night. I don’t know who is advising them, but if they told me to push for more than the initial $2.5B they were offered, I’d push them out of the way and sign on the dotted line. Clearly they know what they’re doing, but let’s be real. $6B is just crazy money. You could never spend it. Heck, you could barely give it all away.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

And I love to scream, “Vandever, what the hell were you thinking?!”!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@rachaelseda But, to play devil’s advocate, if you can’t buy wine and shoes, what’s the point?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@jeanniecw I’m not going to lie, *I* am motivated by money. Looking at our financials every week and seeing the big black numbers is greatly motivating to me. And, as you well know, I love to buy shoes and wine. But that’s not why I get up and come to work every day. Your point about thinking about new talent is spot on. Perhaps you should blog it??

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