Myth #4: “We Lose Good People Because We Don’t Pay Enough”

Do people leave because they are not paid enough?  Sometimes but more often than not it is because of the leader.   “You join a company but you leave a boss”.

Read and connect with your clients better

Mentor – Mark Oliver

  • Money doesn’t motivate! (I expect some push back!).
  • Improve leadership – people join a company but leave a boss.
  • The cost of lower staff engagement (and it is easy to overestimate how engaged staff are).


Kevin: The question for you this morning as we talk to our guest mentor Mark Oliver, we’re talking about leadership.  Do people leave because they are not paid enough? Sometimes but more often than not it’s because of the leader. Here’s a quote for you, “You join a company but you leave a boss.” Let’s talk about that. Good morning Mark, how are you?

Mark: I’m good thanks Kevin. Good to talk with you again.

Kevin: Thank you, we’re taking myth number four from Mark’s book Motivational Leadership. “We lose good people because we don’t pay enough”.   Is it that simple Mark?

Mark: The research strongly suggests it’s anything but that simple.

Kevin: Yeah.

Mark: And I think people’s experience would support that. Apparently up to 70% of people when asked why they leave a job say it’s because of their manager.

Kevin: Staggering isn’t it?

Mark: It is.

Kevin: Is that because there’s a lack of engagement? Cause we’ve already talked about charisma and the traits of a good leader, but is it because they don’t get engaged enough?

Mark: It’s along those lines Kevin, it really comes back to this idea of trust and care. It’s important to feel that you’re trusted, and also to be able to trust people you work with most importantly your leader. And if your leader doesn’t care about them. Whenever I mention leadership being sort of self sacrifice, if a leader doesn’t care about the person you’ve got good reason not to trust them. And it goes wider, if you think of customers that’s where I think leadership hash some commonality with selling. For people really to buy off something … for small things it might not matter, you know like if I’m at the reject shop and buy some stuff I might not care about trusting the person selling to me, but certainly in bigger sales, in selling of real estate trust I would imagine is key. And the way we mark the trustworthiness of somebody is how much we think they care about us.

Kevin: We’ll get a bit of pushback on this but money, you say money does not motivate. But there are some cases where money if it’s low enough will motivate a purchase won’t it?

Mark: Sort of yes and no. Maybe if I sort of reframe the perspective on this. There are certain roles, low level roles, tactile type work where if you pay for something you tend to get more of it. So let’s say you’re digging a trench, if you pay somebody $100 for every metre of trench they pay versus $300 for every metre of trench you’re likely to get a long trench for sure. So in that sort of way motivates. I’m going to come back to motivation by the way in perhaps a surprising way. So you can think of money though as motivating in that terms, and that’s really commission basics.

Mark: So when it comes to commission, yeah money sort of motivates, but in terms of bonuses, end of the year stuff where you get a bonus there’s lots of evidence not only does it not motivate it actually gets the people to adopt behaviours which damage the organisation. It was one of the key reasons for the 2007 crisis, basically these young bankers were paid huge bonuses so they might be on $200,000 pounds or $400,000 were paid a million dollar bonus if they hit certain targets. And they all said, bear in mind the bonuses were paid in June, by February nobody was working for the bank or the interest of the bank. We were twisting and slanting everything we could to make sure we met the figures that gave us our bonus, even if it meant that it would cause the bank to lose money, which it often did.

Kevin: There is a difference between incentive and motivate isn’t there?

Mark: Absolutely, because to really challenge your organisation perhaps you can’t motivate anybody, not possible. Motivation is an internal thing, it’s always intrinsic it’s not extrinsic. You can help people be motivated but you can’t motivate them. And if you think about it it’s quite obvious because you can try to motivate two people and the same behaviour, same time, same circumstances, one person is motivated the other isn’t. You can’t have been motivating that person you can only help them be motivated and that’s the job as a leader, that’s a job as trying to sell something. It’s very important to understand, that difference is subtle but very important.

Kevin: It gets back to what we said right at the start doesn’t it? It’s all about engagement, staff engagement. It’s pretty easy to overestimate just how engaged people are though, Mark isn’t it?

Mark: It is. Yes. When I go to companies and I ask them to give me an idea of what sort of percentage of people are engaged in their organisation, or what they think it’s generally engaged, the percentages are much higher.

Kevin: Than reality, yeah. Interesting stuff. Tomorrow when we come back for a final episode with Mark we will talk about motivation and whether or not it’s possible to motivate unmotivated people, staff. Mark comes back again tomorrow. Thanks Mark, talk to you in the morning.

Mark: Thanks Kevin.

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