Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What We're Worth

Lately, I’ve found myself in a lot of conversations about the value and worth of work. A friend of mine recently got a long-overdue raise, meanwhile other friends deserve a raise but have yet to receive one. I also have friends who aren’t currently working and are feeling greater confidence as a result of considering ways to measure success that aren’t related to a paycheck.

This got me thinking about how much of our confidence comes from our jobs. We live in a society where our work is a big part of our identity, so this makes a lot of sense. If we complete an important project or implement a new system at work, our confidence shoots up. If a project isn’t successful, then our confidence dips. This cycle seems part of a natural ebb & flow, but there’s another side to this...

For starters, what happens if your job is a supportive role rather than one that takes the lead? If you aren’t given any major responsibilities, it’s hard to feel that your job is of any importance. I have a lot of acquaintances who feel no ownership of the tasks they work on, and their confidence goes down.

Another issue that comes into play is reward. In some companies, completing a goal leads to some sort of reward. The reward might come in the form of a bonus, a promotion, a potential raise at your yearly review, a staff person for you to manage, office perks, a shout out at the next meeting, and so forth. In other companies, however, none of these are a possibility.

In my experience and that of those around me, I’ve seen all of these scenarios. In companies where every goal is met with some reward (even a small one), it definitely seems to me that morale is boosted when someone succeeds. Sadly, the opposite also seems to be true – if there are no rewards, people start to develop low self-esteem.

Has your confidence ever been affected by your work? What have you done when you felt your work wasn’t being properly compensated?

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