October 23; Self-Motivation Works Best Where Self-Perception Matches Market Value
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful


Chapter Ten: Deciding 23 October

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?

Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Don’t be afraid;

you are worth more than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7

Self-Motivation Works Best Where Self-Perception Matches Market Value


The woman worked all day. She refused some of the money she earned. She deliberately left cash on the table.

“Why,” I asked, “won’t you submit an invoice for what we owe you?”

“Not worth it,” she said.


She explained, “I’m not going to bill you for the travel – just sitting in a car; that wouldn’t be fair…”


Your Business Professor was managing a team of 1099 Independent Contractors (part-time workers) who would be dispatched to teach classes in various cities across the county, usually within driving distance. My team would get a flat rate to conduct the training exercise, which was one-third higher than the competitive wage for that work. We wanted to pay premium wages for the best talent.

I also paid mileage and another hourly rate for ‘windshield time’ sitting behind the wheel motoring down some interstate highway. It could be a lot of money for a day’s labor.

I never understood why my staff turned down money until a mentor explained the ‘Equity Theory’ to me.

The theory states, “that people assess how fairly they have been treated according to two key factors: outcomes and inputs.” (Bateman, Snell 2012) This is from the point of view of the organization: Outcomes are what the employee gets form the company; Inputs are what the employee puts into the company. The two should be equal for employee happiness. Professor Bateman at UVA writes,

Ultimately one of the most important issues in motivation surrounds people’s view of what they contribute to the organization and what they receive from it. Ideally they will view their relationship with their employer as a well-balanced, mutually beneficial exchange. As people work and realize the outcomes or consequences of their actions, they assess how fairly the organization treats them.

The starting point for understanding how people interpret their contributions and outcomes is equity theory…Equity theory proposes that when people assess how fairly they are treated, they consider two key factors:

  1. Outcomes,as in expectancy theory, refer to the various things the person receives on the job: recognition, pay, benefits, satisfaction, security, job assignments, punishments, and so forth.

  2. Inputsrefer to the contributions the person makes to the organization: effort, time, talent, performance,   extra    commitment, good citizenship, and so forth. (Bateman, Snell 2012)

‘Equity’ here means ‘equal’ and that’s simply the perception of the value of what motivates each of us. Managers must understand writer Oscar Wilde in Lady Windermere’s Fan,

a sentimentalist…is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of any single thing.

Managers should be passionate, but not sentimental,

People generally expect that the outcomes they receive will reflect, or be proportionate to, the inputs they provide—a fair day’s pay (and other outcomes) for a fair day’s work (broadly defined by how people view all their contributions).

In every job interview there will be a question or conversation on compensation. The manager needs to know and decide what the candidate thinks he is worth in the marketplace. This is not his value as an individual by his Creator (which is infinite) but the price for his labors on this side of eternity.

What the job seeker wants and what the talent seeker wants had better match up or someone will be unhappy, unmotivated. A person in the market place is like a building on the housing market. A real estate appraisal is made to determine the selling price. The job hunter’s “comparables” or “comps” compare people with similar Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. And everyone compares themselves to others—especially in compensation.

Professor Bateman continues,

But this comparison of outcomes to inputs is not the whole story. People also pay attention to the outcomes and inputs others receive.

At salary review time, for example, most people—from executives on down—try to pick up clues that will tell them who got the biggest raises…they compare ratios, try to restore equity if necessary, and derive more or less satisfaction based on how fairly they believe they have been treated…

People who feel inequitably treated and dissatisfied are motivated to do something to restore equity.

My challenge was not that my staff felt that they were being paid less and that they would be unhappy and sabotage inputs to the organization. No. My “challenge” was the opposite. My people found a way to “increase” inputs by taking less in outputs from my company.


My staffer continued her explanation, “You already overpay me.” She was comparing the value of her work to similar women in similar positions. She was delighted with being recognized with being paid at a scale far above her counter-parts. “You don’t need to reimburse me for that other stuff…” She couldn’t work any harder so she took less money.

I had known the “price” and now I finally understood “value.” Paying people more saved me money.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7



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