Money Isn’t Respect

Throughout my tenure as CEO of 3Pillar, I’ve found over and over that there’s a small subset of individuals who equate the amount of money they are paid to the respect that they have from the organization.

However, there is no amount of money that will express the value of an employee. Each and every one of us is innately more worthwhile than a dollar.

People who boil their own worth—including the amount and degree to which they are appreciated—down to the dollar never seem to be satisfied by the amount of money they’re paid.

Money Isn't Respect - David DeWolf

I’ve had multiple situations where an individual believes that they have been disrespected because they didn’t receive the raise they wanted, the bonus they longed for, or the largest check. This is so saddening to me. In many of those cases, even when presented with the market data, even when shown that the individuals aren’t just compensated fairly but, in several cases, generously, these individuals continue to feel slighted and hurt.

This comes from a disorientation. It comes from people taking their self-worth from what they do and accomplish and how that’s recognized, rather than from who they are as a person and that they intrinsically hold dignity and are valuable because of who they are.

In these situations, as a leader, it’s important to communicate very clearly that these individuals are more than welcome to move on if they believe they are being paid unjustly. The last thing I want is an employee who feels as though we are slighting them or that they’re not fairly compensated.

The reality is that some businesses value certain roles more than others. If the fair market allows that individual to seek and receive that compensation they’re looking for, that’s great. I have no problem with that, and I’m excited for that person.

What I’ve found more often than not is that, in most cases, these individuals leave, chase the dollar, and become even more miserable because of it.

No amount of money can make you happy. It also can’t make you feel valued or appreciated.

The dollar is just a reflection of the value that an employer places on you and your role. It is not the end-all and be-all. You have trust the data. You have to trust and have a good enough relationship to be content and happy with what you’re paid. If you’re not, it’s time to move on.


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  • Mark Kalpakgian

    It’s also good to start with the question, “How can I EARN a raise?” rather than just asking for more money.
    This encourages a healthy dialogue that opens up new possibilities between the employee and the organization.