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“They Don’t Pay Me Enough To Care.” Lies About Complacency

You know when you see a kid in the playground acting like a complete jackass to all the other children and you’re all ‘where is your mother?!?’ That’s how I felt with this guy working in the hardware store.

I can’t even remember what I was shopping for, the experience with the clerk was so distracting from my task at hand. He was on the phone and didn’t look up when I came in. His conversation was clearly personal and not at all urgent and he rattled along, casually cussing, before finally saying that he should probably go as though having a customer walk in was the greatest of inconveniences. I am fine with casual and rarely offended by cussing. But having owned a small business for almost a decade, my shock was in imagining one of my staff ever behaving that way.

We had a good time, he was actually pretty helpful despite his ‘I don’t give a flying f-attitude’. When he couldn’t find a price, he just made it up saying “They don’t pay me enough to care.”

What?! Where is your mother? Where is your boss?

There are several layers that are dumbfounding to me here.

First…The amount of money we make has nothing to do with how much we care about our work. It just doesn’t. If you don’t care about your work, making more money won’t make you care. It might make it more tolerable, it might make it ‘worth it’ when you weigh it out at the end of the day, you may ACT more appropriately in order to not lose the paycheck…but money CAUSING you to care about your work….doesn’t work that way.

This also goes for “Once I get paid what I’m worth, then I’ll step up and work harder”. That’s not how things work. You provide value first and remuneration rolls in. Can you imagine if I, as a coach, held back what I have to offer, hold in my energy, knowledge, insight and love and demand you pay me a really high rate and THEN I’ll show up and deliver? Nonsense.

Anything I’ve ever built- be it a company, solid client base, great staff and respectable reputation- have all come out of generously and enthusiastically offering up whatever I’ve got. My time, know-how, talent and most importantly my heart.

Being stingy will leave you with what you’re offering up…not much.

And when I say ‘Where is your boss?’ I don’t mean to reprimand…I mean to provide a little bit of leadership, culture and community in the workplace.

In my past life as the owner of a hair salon we really made things up as we went along. Having only had a few part time, short term jobs before opening the place, I hadn’t formed a whole bunch of ideas about how things should be run.

What I did notice about being an employee was that my enjoyment of my work was of little concern to most of my employers. Which is a poor business move. ..

Fact: When people enjoy what they do, they are more productive.

The subtle resistance that occurs in every move and task for someone who resents what they’re doing or even being there at all is PROFOUND.

If you have a team and you’re focused on your targets and your numbers and you’re not focused, like really focused, on your team’s job satisfaction, you’re bleeding energy that could totally boost things up.

We used to have a weekly meeting at the salon, our Haven Huddle. Here, each staff would say what their targets or goals were for the week, in terms of numbers and where they were at in accordance. Nothing revolution here- measuring the measurable results is all. But what about their job satisfaction?

Why don’t most companies measure this? Probably because it’s not empirically measurable. Job satisfaction is subjective. Can’t turn that into a system.

It would benefit us all to bring a lot more humanity to how we’re running our companies.

Here’s what we did…

It was built into our policy manual that our staff had to love their work. We hired people who truly wanted to be there, who were stoked about the unique culture of inclusion and collective support and creative expression that we’d created. In those weekly huddles, each member rated their level of job satisfaction on a scale of 1-10. If they were above an 8, they talked about what was working that had them so satisfied (on behalf of supporting the team in generating responsibility for their own satisfaction.) If they were below an 8, they shared about what was going on that created the gap and what they planned to do about it. Then, someone else on the team would offer to support them in some way.

Here’s the thing though, this doesn’t work unless management actually gives a shit. If people don’t like their job because they think their manager is a bozo, are they supposed to say that in the meeting?

As a manager in this context, you need to actually really care. You need to be open to the perspectives and opinions of the staff and actually willing to be influenced by them. That’s how a real sense of team is created rather than a dictatorship. If we had a policy that everyone must love their work and that if they don’t, there’s a threat on the other end, rather than a big hearted commitment, it would just be another false ra-ra strategy to produce a result for the company.

At the crux of all of this is offering care.

At the crux of all of this is offering love.

People need to matter. Take care of your people and they’ll take care of your bottom line.

And it’s a co-created phenomenon that makes all the difference in the work place. We’re living in a world right now where so much emphasis is put on external results and we go about measuring those and completely forget about the heart. But the heart will move us faster and further than anything else. It was clear that this kid at the hardware store didn’t care about the company, and the company didn’t care about him.

I want to live in a world where we build our work and our interactions on deep care for one another, this would lead to way deeper fulfillment when the results do come in, fewer traumas when they don’t and could weed out a whole bunch of poor decisions that harm many along the way.

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Chela Davison is a professional Integral Coach™ with a fierce commitment to abolishing suffering. She’s most interested in a world where we each get to express our deepest purpose for the sake of our collective growth, expanding hearts and ravenous spirits. Her writing and coaching, aims to connect deeply and intimately with fellow humans to bring the fullness of who we are forward. Follow her on twitter and like her facebook page!

  • Becky

    Fabulous post and so true. An atmosphere and philosophy that stresses “keep your head down and let the shit fly over” is hardly a morale booster.

  • anon

    I always ask what the boss is like and what the atmosphere is like when picking a job. I have noticed that the personality of the boss filters down from the top to the bottom in a company. I also noticed that when the staff don’t get paid as much, they often don’t get treated with as much respect, not sure why this is… but in my opinion, if someone is working for basically volunteer style wages they should be appreciated more not less for that contribution.

  • http://nctaxpro.wordpress.com Mike Emeigh

    I think this is a hard lesson to learn, and it behooves all of us to learn it well – if you don’t absolutely love what you are doing you are in the wrong place. I think we’re so scared of what will happen if we aren’t “gainfully employed” that we lose sight of what we are doing to ourselves when we stay in a place that we not only dislike but that many of us actually loathe.

  • miss dis-grunt-er

    THANK YOU FOR THIS… I love my work, my co workers love their work… and that is because we work outside the office… however when we come into the office, we are snubbed and treated without respect and it feels unsafe to even bring those moments to anyone’s attention – despite hearing from direct supervisor that she ‘has my back’ – I have found a knife in it on occasion and so seriously question her loyalty… and the higher ups are the ones that snub us (unless they want something!) I hang in for now, as do my coworkers, but if we could jump ship we would (lack of employment/salary and our clients are two main reasons to linger…)-but a sort of mass exodus would be almost poetic – I hope I’m able to witness it :D