Leaders Know Your Time Has Worth

Recently a friend and colleague said, “I’ve finally gotten to the point in my life where I don’t give my time away to just anyone for just anything.”

The person who said that is not a greedy person; he is generous, especially with his circle of family and friends. Recently, he returned to the work world and had the chance to negotiate a wage. He didn’t know what to say, because it had not occurred to him that his time was worthy of compensation.

Your time is valuable.

I have two points to make:

  1. You can put a dollar value on time.
  2. Avoid taking someone’s work for granted regardless of their compensation status.

My friend Matt reminds me that there are only 168 hours in the week. Use them wisely. It’s okay to set boundaries by saying “no.” In fact, the ability to know our own limitations by not overcommitting is a sign of personal growth.

For most of us, our 168 hours in a week involve:

  • Working to earn a living.
  • Caring for family, friends, and one’s household.
  • Self-care, such as recreation, rest, sleep, and leisure.
  • Community care.

Although everyone has a different ideal balance, I suspect there are a lot of us who get out of whack sometimes. Maybe we’ll find ourselves working too much to take care of the people around us or taking care of family and friends too much to take care of ourselves.

Your time is both valuable and intangible. People need us. We need to earn a living and make the world a better place. Additionally, we have to take care of ourselves, because if we don’t, we can’t do the other three. As flight attendants remind us, “Put on your own oxygen mask before you help others with theirs.”

Your time has worth.

I taught in a public school from 1991 to 2010. Many people speak of “that one teacher” who went above and beyond and made a big difference in their lives. However, teachers, as a whole, are underpaid and underappreciated. I have seen this quote several times, and it rubs me the wrong way: “Teachers don’t teach for the income; they teach for the outcome.” The outcome is not an excuse to continue to pay teachers less.

I know someone who provides event planning services. She told this story of a client who expected extra touches that were about two steps beyond what she had promised. Most of the time, she goes the extra mile for her clients, but this request was too much and she couldn’t deliver. “What are we paying you for anyway?” the client snarled.

“I explained the scope of the contract. In doing so, I found myself pointing out ways in which I’d already gone above and beyond.” She went on to say, “I didn’t like that I had to defend myself for doing my job. Later, I noticed I didn’t try as much to make them happy. I basically started phoning it in, which is something I never do.”

Expect your time to be appreciated.

When we give our time to others, it’s okay to expect it to be appreciated. Just because someone is compensated for their time doesn’t mean you can be rude to them. Unfortunately, we see this happen at restaurants, convenience stores, and retail outlets. 

In Dan Pink’s Drive, he explains that people are motivated by three things: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Yet, in the workplace, this kind of motivation only works when people are being paid the market rate or above for their work.

Effective leaders understand those initial two points:

  1. You can put a dollar value on time.
  2. Avoid taking someone’s work for granted just because they are being paid. Please be appreciative of people even when they’re compensated.

Effective leaders balance the need to make money for their employer, while also advocating for fair compensation for the people they lead.

Effective leaders show appreciation for people’s work, even when they’re “just doing their job.”

What stories do you have?

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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