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Purpose, Profit, or Potential?


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I'd like to hear your take on this from two points of view.

#1 as an employee, what order would you prefer?

#2 as an employer, what order would you arrange?

 

For the sake of clarity, here's what each means to me;

Purpose: A sense that the work being done provides consistent meaning and/or emotional satisfaction to everyone involved.

Profit: Monetary reward that exceeds the value of the work right now. How much do you make beyond covering your expenses.

Potential: Access to opportunities, relationships, or other benefits in the future.

To kick things off, here are my answers.

As an Employee I'd rank it  Profit, Potential, Purpose.

As an Employer I'd choose Profit, Purpose, Potential.

It's been my experience that employers who low-ball wages don't actually value the worker as much as they claim.  As an employee, I put potential second because I've found that's where most of the interview promises are broken.  I've left more jobs because the employer broke a promise for advancement than any other reason.  To my mind, if they can't deliver a long-term path for advancement, their purpose isn't aligned with my best interests.  I'd hasten to add that advancement doesn't necessarily mean promotion.  My current job title hasn't changed but through the work I've gained access to a higher/better tier of professionals than I otherwise could.  

As an employer I chose a different order for the last two because I think businesses that chase every shiny thing lose their connection with everything but profit which often suffers.  I see a lot of businesses grinding away at "potential" stuff that rarely works out because they don't have a plan beyond pursuit.  That failure inevitably leads to broken promises.  If figure you can't deliver on something if you don't know how to get from here to there. Profit is number one because I've never encountered a successful and stable business that couldn't/wouldn't prioritize earning a profit.

What do you think?

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I think that as an employee if you have enough profit purpose becomes the primary reward.  I have stayed at jobs which payed less than I might have made elsewhere because I enjoyed what I was doing and where I was doing it and who I did it with.  Also, where you are doing something can be part of the reward.  You may take or stay in a job that you would otherwise leave because it allows you to be in a particular place.  You may want to be close to family, someone with whom you are in a relationship, or someplace where you may indulge your non-work passion such as skiing, opera, ethnic food, or anything else.

I guess that I am saying that there is more to it than your 3 suggested values.

Also, from an employer's stand point it depends on what type of employer is involved.  By definition, a soulless corporation will be only concerned with profit while a sole proprietership may be motivated by something else, even, (dare we say it) altruism.

GNM

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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So,

Profit, from the company's perspective, is often in direct competition with profit, from the employee's perspective.

At least, once the abacus-wielding analysts and consultants and financial "experts" have been paid. Once they have -their- checks safely cashed, the final word often seems to be "Payroll is your largest controllable expense."

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On 6/21/2018 at 9:16 PM, George N. M. said:

I guess that I am saying that there is more to it than your 3 suggested values.

That's very true.  I intentionally limited it to these three for two reasons.  The first is that open-ended questions elicit responses that don't allow simple comparisons.  

The second is to hear how people shift their thinking when the question is posed from two points of view.

You mentioned a "soulless corporation" would only be concerned with profit by definition.  OK, so expand on that.  If it makes the business more money to have employees who feel they have purpose, wouldn't that be a priority for them?  Being nice/humane to people is certainly cheaper than paying them more. 

 

On 6/24/2018 at 12:29 PM, Exo313 said:

So,

Profit, from the company's perspective, is often in direct competition with profit, from the employee's perspective.

At least, once the abacus-wielding analysts and consultants and financial "experts" have been paid. Once they have -their- checks safely cashed, the final word often seems to be "Payroll is your largest controllable expense."

I can see why you put it this way but I think there is a flaw in that reasoning which underpins my priority question.  If profit is the only concern for both parties, the balance will reflect the supply versus the demand.  This can cut both ways.  I can think of several industries that are in decline because the workers would rather see the business fail than to accept a competitive wage.  Thinking of this in the one dimension of profit leads to a natural impasse.  

Just out of curiosity, why didn't either of you actually list your preferred priorities from either perspective?

 

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17 hours ago, JustAnotherViking said:

Is this not basically just Maslow, and has been extensively studied and debated already? 

On some level can't every personal preference be bent to apply to Maslow's hierarchy?  I suppose there are some folks who let that psychology govern every aspect of their lives but I wouldn't assume it's universal.

Even if I tried to apply Maslow to my three preferences, it still leaves the ranking uncertain.  Which one is the "higher level" purpose or potential?

Maslow also admitted that his hierarchy is very person specific.  An artist who neglects their health illustrates that point.  

 

 

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On 6/26/2018 at 8:21 AM, JustAnotherViking said:

To me, I would filter purpose under 'Esteem', and potential under 'Self-actualisation', based on the common traits associated with each.

So in order of need: profit, purpose, potential

What order would you choose if you were running a company?

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Maybe sociologists, psychologists, or black smiths can reduce an employee's or an employer's motivations to a few categories but I'm skeptical of the validity of this exercise.  As previously mentioned motivations can be very complex for either individuals or organizations.  There is such variation that even if the categories are broad enough they become meaningless.  

It may be interesting to contrast organizations which, by necessity, are motivated by profit and those which are not such as various non-profits (some large such as some hospitals, REI, or USAA) and governmental organizations.

 

 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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  • 2 weeks later...

rockstar.esq..... I read your posts and normally I have no idea what you are on about ....a different language, or a diferent world ...But I do read them! This one makes more sense to me and mirrors the conversation I have had again and again recently with other smiths (self employed mainly) .

 That is the trick of balancing purpose (the main drive for most of us) with profit ( the thing that enables us to carry on). I have no faith in potential having been false sold it  numerous times.

When you start purpose is cheap and profit is hard won, you can bask in a self indulgent work rich slavery that glows with self respect and achievement , normally at the cost of (or at least in opposition to) profit.....and if you survive you will start making profit . The point will come when you are enslaved to it and have to work a personal value of you'r own satisfaction in the work.......and these things will battle and if you are lucky they will find peace together..

 trying to do the work you love and make money...Having your Cake and eating it.

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I agree with you, basher, but I would maintain that, if one truly puts purpose first, profit and potential will find their way.  This is idealistic, of course, because we all love the idea of working towards a great purpose; however, in reality we are all looking constantly over our shoulders with anxiety waiting for the profit and potential to be borne from our purpose.  Which begs the question: In this world of present necessity, is it really possible to not put profit first....even when we are telling ourselves that it is our great purpose that drives us?

I personally reconcile this conflict by managing my own definition of purpose.  What type of effort provides personal meaning and satisfaction?  If I have a selfish definition, one wherein I am fulfilled internally, then all is lost.  However, if I find fulfillment in providing utility to others (service), I can have purpose in my work even when it is not the type of work I love to do.

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Good Morning JW,

If you are just starting, your focus should not be on Profit. It should be learning to do a job and doing it to the best of your ability. As you learn, your ability will increase until you can make something that will display your Pleasure of doing a good job. When you get that far, if someone is pleased by what you are making, they may want to have the pleasure of it as well. Then you get the great privilege of making another one. Through this exercise of enjoying what you are doing, you may enjoy the Pleasure of creating some Profit. Maybe!!

Along this path you will also learn the value of personal Attitude control. If you don't maintain a sort of Humble attitude, you will fail to make your dreamed of "Profit". Focus on Positive Steps and you will enjoy the Journey.

Neil

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