A friend asked me, “What are the things that make a job worth staying in for the long haul?” a bit of thought allowed me to simplify my answer into the trifecta above –purpose, people and pay (at the time I think I said mission, people and money but that doesn’t have the same ring does it?) I don’t believe you can reach true employment bliss until you’ve clearly got all three.
The purpose is why you show up to work every day. You’ve got a mission, you believe in that mission, it aligns with your personal “why” and it gets you out of bed with a smile every morning. You think about the mission all the time, you research it, you read books about it, you get folks around you excited about it, and you get excited about getting folks around you excited about it. The purpose is the foundation of the trifecta. When you look at a prospective company, consider their purpose FIRST. If the people and pay are in alignment but the purpose isn’t, you’ll get bored and the surest way to take the buzz out of something is to get bored with it.
The people are who you show up to work for everyday. People aren’t just peers and co-workers, its the customers too. Ideally you’ll pick a company with people that have a track record of execution, integrity, and success. With the right people, you’ll let your guard down and allow yourself to get mentored. You’ll be less worried about being right and you’ll spend more time wanting to learn and share. As you develop personal relationships with these people, your interactions with them will increase in quality. The quality of your interactions tend to define the quality of your leadership, it yields more trust and mutual respect. That kind of thing tends to make you want to stick around for the long haul.
For the life of me I don’t understand why pay is so taboo to discuss with employers. Pay isn’t just about the quantity of money you get paid to do your best work. Pay is validation, when you get paid more, the person on the other end of the table is acknowledging your value and rewarding you for execution and experience. Pay is also an important optic for new employers. They will create a first impression on the quality of the candidate (you) based on how much they ask for and/or how much their previous employer paid them. If you are less interested in “pay” in the form of money, there are other ways to get paid. If you are in your first job, experience trumps money. Take the hit on money, work for someone that can mentor you and become a sponge for their experience. That experience is worth a lot more than the cold hard cash they will pay you for your time. If you work for a startup, you’ll be more likely to take your pay in stocks. If you work for a non-profit or are in social work, pay in cash might be less important to you than pay in karma… Come on who am I kidding? When is pay not that important to anyone? it is important, so don’t sideline it.
The Bottom Line
People + Purpose — Pay: You could be happy at this company but monetary stress will wear you down over time.
Purpose + Pay — People: You could be happy at this company for a little while until you realize that life is too short to spend with people that suck.
Pay + People — Purpose: You shouldn’t stick around this company for too long, this is a good inbetweener job.
Purpose — People — Pay: A great way to get your early footing in an industry of interest but this is not long term viable.
Pay — Purpose — People: Don’t do it just for the money, life’s too short and you’ll be miserable.
People — Purpose — Pay: The people at this company better be like family or else you’ll be miserable at this company.
– Purpose — People — Pay: If I’m being honest, this one is a tough sell all around.
Purpose + People + Pay: You hit the jack pot. Start funding your pension, 401k, and IRA. Plan to be here for a long time because these companies are few and far between.