Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Should you change jobs for money?

Please see this excellent compilation of research on money and motivation. Entire data of research gives a clear answer that you should never change jobs for money. 

But are there cases when you should change jobs for money? May be, when your salary is less than 'benchmark value', the value which takes care of your basic needs. For instance, Daniel Kahneman found that this benchmark value is about 75000 $ in US. In India, I guess, this figure may be about 10 Lakhs per annum, depending on which city you are living. In Tier 2 cities, the same figure will be lower. But whatever is the benchmark value, below that value, lack of money demotivates. In other words,when you are earning below this value, money motivates.

But this also suggests that salary beyond 10 Lpa is not enough to motivate. It means that, beyond this salary level, one should not change jobs, just because there is a 40% increase in salary ! 
Why should you not do this? Because Extrinsic goals ( money, reputation, and power) always crowd out intrinsic goals (e.g., enjoyment, sheer curiosity, learning or personal challenge). More the extrinsic rewards increase, less important intrinsic goals become. Why should you worry about this? Because, sooner or letter, intrinsic rewards affect job performance. As the authors say ' The more people focus on their salaries, the less they will focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.'

So if you cannot change jobs for money, what should you change for? According to Rossabeth Kanter, the researcher on leadership comments, 'I identified three primary sources of motivation in high-innovation companies: mastery, membership, and meaning. Another M, money, turned out to be a distant fourth. Money acts as a scorecard, but it does not get people up-and-at 'em for the daily work, nor does it help people go home every day with a feeling of fulfillment." Using these 3 M  intrinsic rewards are central to engagement and happiness. 

In other words, searching for Mastery ( the excellence in work), Meaning in life ( linkages job to personal values) and being a Member of a group that is making a difference to the world ( be it social challenges or personal vision like Steve Jobs) act as three big intrinsic motivators for successful achievers.

Here are some Dan Ariely's experiments about why we are motivated to work. It is far more interesting and multi-layered view. Please go through this video of Dan Ariely. You will appreciate that there are many reasons for liking to work than just money. For instance, we like to work because there are more difficulties and challenges, such as while climbing the mountain. Or we like to work when our output is 'visible' and can be seen, such as when we build houses for people. Or professionals working in big software companies cannot get motivated by seeing their 'visible outputs', but they love the work because they face challenges of constant changing knowledge. 

In other words, excellence in work is far more 'nuanced'. We have been discussing about the unwitting blocks we create on our road to work-excellence. For instance, we should not change jobs from more competent jobs to less-competent jobs because we get more money. Or, when getting money is our primary  challenge, we should understand the block of skill market and deal with it instead of changing the job. Or instead of changing jobs because of boss who does not give credit to our work, we should deal with the perception of boss . Or, instead of complaining that 'we are doing our best', we should also learn to generate visible results in a company by understanding the metasystems of company. Instead of changing jobs because we do not have any purpose in life, we should instead find meaning in life actively and not wait for life to tell us the purpose of life.  

Motivation of work-life is more multi-dimensional than just money and challenges. 

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