Monthly Archives: July 2018

Intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation vs get real paid

David Harrison and Eric Morath, In This Economy, Quitters Are Winning, Wall Street Journal, 2018-07-04

You know what? I wasn't going to say anything about this article. I posted it to LinkedIn. Then deleted it. I didn't want to look like a whiner. And I recently connected with my manager on LinkedIn.

Then today another engineer I enjoyed working with said sayonara. Jumped on the outbound train. I'm getting good at making hilarious responses to "goodbye I'm leaving/retiring" emails, if only because there are plenty of opportunities recently to practice.

Regarding the article: good for everyone cashing in. You should. Why not? If wage growth sucks: get paid. If your company thinks you're a commodity: get paid. No party lasts forever: get paid, sock it away, you might need it later.

Everyone knows you can bounce out of one gig and get paid to move to another. Bonus, moving bonus, raise, promotion, etc. But here's the kicker: imagine bouncing out, and then getting recruited to bounce back. Bonus, moving bonus, raise, promotion, etc., take two. Many people are saying that it's happening. Yes. If you decided not to listen to the poachers I mean recruiters, you missed two jumps.

I don't want to get mad about it. Or be jealous about it. But I also want to get real paid. I was thinking of buying a house this summer. Then I didn't—came up just short of the stake we wanted to post. So I have to answer to that while knowing that the solution to that problem was offered to me, but I declined.

Here's a fun article: Roland Bénabou and Jean Tirole, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation, The Review of Economic Studies, Volume 70, Issue 3, 1 July 2003, Pages 489–520. (a .pdf copy for you to read here)

The short story is: people respond to incentives, except when they feel that what they're doing has some kind of intrinsic meaning, and then it gets fuzzy—fuzzy in that incentives can cause a negative reaction. But if the opposite is true—if the work doesn't have that intrinsic meaning—there better be some kind of obvious payoff, like a child being bribed with some candy to not be a jerk.

I have no conclusion to this post. From here, everything devolves. Talking about money is hard—for me, at least. It was never a Prime Motivator. I shifted jobs for Social Reasons (what we'll call, for the time being, blowing up a career for a girl... twice, although the second time can be filed under Good Decisions), not for Money Reasons. Out of those shifts, only once did it resolve in: get paid. So, in the final analysis, there's this uneasy tension between doing what seemed right at the time and counting dollars today. I'm not sure I won on either front, really. Maybe the tension is more like: making decisions on globally important factors that weren't locally important, and then paying for them later.

A week in review, 2018-W26

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