Money and Motivation. Your career needs both.

Black Friday … Christmas … Many opportunities to spend money. People keep making money in one way: working. Curiously, there are people who believe that people should not earn money from their jobs…

Small Compensation Professional

Many managers are bombarded with information that wages do not mean motivation. I commented this in my last article on leadership. I have acquaintances who come to me when I say this. One acquaintance once commented:

Your posts are hateful to anyone who is having to keep people.

Well … I would say that I make life difficult for those who want to keep good people with low wages. If the employee is good enough to be retained, this employee certainly generates more profits than costs. Therefore, bad luck to companies that do not value their talented people. This way of thinking only confirms my theory.

This mania of wanting to say that money has nothing to do with motivation only serves a few job positions in Brazil. To be more explicit, if we evaluate IBGE data, less than 10% earn more than 5 times the minimum wage, that is, 90% of the population earns less than R$ 5,000.00 (about U$ 1500,00, according to IBGE census of 2010, summary in the IG report) . All this money does not motivates applies to less than 10% of the population. It’s a niche speech that does not apply to most people.

To make it obvious, let’s set the scene for the company’s most motivated profile. The newbie.

First let’s go to the general picture: a person is sweating off to live by himself. Maybe got his/her degree and wants a bit of  independence. He/she lives in an environment of little private space (or in a small apartment or has to share an apartment). If this person has little or no parent help, he/she will probably have a popular car (in the fabulous quality of popular cars in Brazil) under some sort of lease.

Any extra money in this guy’s pocket puts him closer to his dream. However, he lives listening to the same as his managers: that he should focus on his career and not worry about his pay. In those years, I’ve seen Senior guys earning the same Junior.

First of all, let’s assess the absurdity we have come about not making money. I have seen consultant / coach give advice like this:

  • At the beginning of the career you have to sweat blood from working and focusing on the skills.
  • When you are experienced, you should focus on satisfaction and not give ball for money.

They never tell you to focus on money. Interestingly, the same types of consultants love telling you to focus on customer, relationship, and focus on everything else, because focus brings results. This is harmful to the company in the long run: smart people shouldn’t be treated like idiots.

Want to separate weeds from wheat? If your coach is in favor of the above two phrases, get away from him. He will never let you make money in your life. Even worse, he may try to convince you that money “is consequence.” Of course it is: consequence for those who knows how to value their work and charge for it.

Money and Motivation

One of the parts that I liked most about writing in Autodesenvolvimento (in short) was:

  • A person works expecting compensation.
  • A company compensates for the job done.

Several ideological threads discuss the capital-labor-money relation. Although I have my beliefs, I believe that all my readers have their own varied beliefs on this subject. Even though one thing is a fact: everyone wants to work to receive something in return. Even if it is not money, it could be peace of mind, seeing a better world, whatever…

Altruists are not the focus of this publication. Some people, in fact, the majority of them, work for money.

This is for those who make money from their work, and enjoy doing it by doing their best. This money is called salary. Payment. Remuneration. Compensation.

Ideologies aside, fairly compensated or not, it is a fact that those who received for their work exchanged hours of life for money. If they were smart, they made this trade by doing something they like, or at least what they think is acceptable.

Purchasing Power

Everyone knows what purchasing power is. For those who are in career beginning, money is the main motivator. There is no conversation at this point. No matter how many fresh starter employees like what they do, it will be natural to them to seek higher wages. It will be natural to seek better payment.

Why? Because of these very dreams that motivate the professional. It is precisely the increase in purchasing power that will put the employee in a comfortable financial situation to the point that higher wages will no longer cause an increase in motivation. By neglecting this, many companies end up losing their greatest talents.

However, it is also of no use to prevent employees to reach such career stage by not promoting anyone: this will only create a high turn-over and the company gets a reputation of being a school than a for-profit company. People do not want money to stop working: I know a lot of people who want to make more money so they can work better. They can invest more in their career.

I often say that an engineering manager rarely manages people. Most managers only talk about a raise or promotion in the case that someone is almost leaving. I call this “door career discussion”: it happens either in the entrance or the exit. And the blame always falls on the employees.

NOTE: several professionals, when climbing the corporate tree and especially when they are financially promoted, get themselves into nasty circle: they work harder to pay for more comfort needed to withstand the harder work. It is in these cases that more money will not bring more motivation. However, this is less than 10% of the cases of employees in Brazil.

Money does not buy happiness, but it brings peace of mind.

It is important to spend wisely the money you earn! Good financial planning is essential for the professional to have peace of mind. It is essential to keep people calm and serene. I comment on this in this article: Beware of Internal Disturbances.

I usually say that there is a good chance that the government will not help on anything … There is a greater chance that governments will hinder (through taxes) more than help in someone growth. I also tend to think that only the self is responsible for self growth and for the improvement of  one’s own life quality. For those who do not have an unlimited source of money, it is good to spend right. But beyond that, to have a reasonable life standard, one have to be properly compensated.

So let’s get back to the scene: imagine a fresh professional, being promoted and opting only for “motivation“. This person may want to buy an apartment. This person may want to change vehicle. Anyway, this person wants to invest in life quality. This person will want to experience the result of the motivation he/she received as payment for work. This person will have to lease everything (and pay interest), because the motivation came, but the money did not.

This person will *not* have gains in life quality. He/she will not have access to better goods and services. That is going to be the reality for this people for next 30 years, if he/she does nothing about it. If he/she is smart, he/she will do something about it. Either this person will have adopted a total pact of mediocrity (to receive little money by little work), or will leave the company.

No manager wants either.

About rftafas 183 Articles
Ricardo F. Tafas Jr graduated in Electrical Engineering at UFRGS with focus on Digital Systems and achieved his Masters also in Electrical Engineering on Telecomunications Network Management. He also author of "Autodesenvolvimento para Desenvolvedores (Self-development for developers). Ricardo has +10 years experience on R&D Management and +13 years on Embedded Eystem Development. His interest lay on Applied Strategic HR, Innovation Management and Embedded Technology as a differentiator and also on High Performance Digital Systems and FPGAs. Actually, he is editor and writer for “Repositório” blog (, editorial board member at Embarcados ( and he is Management and Innovation Specialist at Repo Dinâmica - Aceleradora de Produtos.
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