November 13, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

      This just in! Those people in your office, the people answering the phone when you place that business call this morning, the barista who prepared your latte on the way in, the customer you're trying to talk into an appointment before Thanksgiving: they're all in it for the money!
      Okay, that's not the only reason that some (perhaps, most) do what they do. The chance to serve, their love of the product or service, their interest in meaningful value creation; any or all of those motivators may be present as well. Nonetheless, here's a breakthrough thought: call your troops into an unscheduled meeting today, and announce that as of tomorrow morning, all wages will be suspended, indefinitely. All other incentives will stay in place - you'll even accelerate promotions among the troops - but the payroll office is hereby closed. No more wages for workers; no exceptions. How crowded will the parking lot be on Tuesday at your place of business?
      Today's Wall Street Journal highlights the report prepared by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, to be released this week. They surveyed 1,100 U.S. employees, in various fields, with dozens of firms. One of their questions: what would make you open to leaving your present employer? In a surprise, breakthrough epiphany, they reveal this amazing discovery: "71% of top performers listed 'pay' among the top three reasons they would consider leaving their employer. Yet, in a sister survey of 262 large companies, only 45% of employers cited 'pay' as a top-three reason workers leave..."
      Does that reveal a character flaw in the employees - because they value their value, as expressed in their compensation? Or, rather, does it reveal a wisdom flaw in the employers - because they think that their demonstration of regard in the pay envelope is unimportant to their employees?
      Prices tell stories, and people love stories. When something is "cheap," there's a story found on that price tag: the product is probably "cheap" (meaning: sub-quality; not best-of-category). If the product, is, in fact, of a superior quality, despite the low-number on the tag... someone (the buyer) has just taken advantage of someone else's (the seller's) hardship. That doesn't breed relationships between the two: for relationship health, the seller is honored by the buyer who is willing to validate the seller with a fair price.
      Do you want to keep your best employees? Here's an incredible insight: pay them what they're worth. Do you want to motivate them to superior performance? Offer to share the success they enable - for you -with them. Share the wealth... and they'll pledge their loyalty. Hold back... and they're fair game for your competition who is willing to outbid your underpayment.
      Why is all of that true? Here's a biblical factoid: God made us to be motivated by self-benefit. That yearning isn't a result of Adam's sin; rather, it's tied into the Creator's design. How do we know that? you ask. Answer: God appeals to our self interest when he asks for our superior performance.
      In the Hebrew Hall-of-Fame, one of the all-time Top-10 is Moses. He is a man God holds up as a hero--evel human, for us to emulate. What motivated Moses to push-back from his career path in Egypt and take on the CEO position for the Chosen People? Listen to the commentary on his decision, written centuries later: “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward (paycheck!)” (Hebrews 11:26) "Hey, Moses, why in the world did you resign from Pharaoh's palace to take that position in the wilderness?"
      His reply may be a shocker for you; it may run in the face of your Sunday School assumptions. His answer?  "I did it for the money. God pays better than the competition... you just have to wait a little longer for it."
      Why in the world did he do it? It wasn't "in the world;" it was in heaven's future. That's where faith comes in. Most Christians today spend more time working for current returns rather than for eternal rewards; they haven't seen what Moses saw, out there on the long-term horizon...

Bob Shank

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