John’s Perspective: Determine Your Currency

John’s Perspective

Do you know what your professional currency really is? This is what motivates you and is the medium through which your boss or colleagues can most affect you. And surprisingly, it’s not the same for everyone. Understanding what your currency truly is will help you better understand yourself and goals.

Your currency isn’t a nice-to-have

Your currency isn’t going to be something that’s a nice-to-have, it’s what will make-or-break things for you. For instance, while everyone wants a fair salary (and ideally as high as possible), salary amount isn’t everyone’s currency. If salary is your currency, then it will be the ultimate motivator for you and getting a higher salary will be the best form of recognition. It also means that getting a much higher salary is what will likely lure you to another company.

But if salary isn’t your currency, while you will appreciate and be happy about bonuses and raises, getting a higher salary might not be enough to keep you at a job that isn’t meeting your currency. Likewise, if salary isn’t your currency, you might find that while a higher salary at another job is appealing, you won’t necessarily accept the new job just for that.

Currency can be a number of things

While there isn’t a set list of what a person’s professional currency might be, most people tend to have salary amount, title, responsibility, recognition, workplace prestige, and impactful work at the tops of their lists. You can see from the variance in that list that these are all very different motivators and deal-breakers – someone who wants a lot of responsibility may value having direct reports more than someone who wants to work on impactful work which affects the organization. And someone whose currency is workplace prestige will forgo a higher salary or elevated title in order to stay at a very admired company.

Once you understand your currency, work towards it 

If you understand that your true currency is workplace prestige, and your current organization is not prestigious enough for you, perhaps you would be happier and more successful if you moved to a different organization. Likewise, if having more responsibility at work is your currency, then have a frank conversation with your leader about what s/he thinks you will need to do over the next 6-12 months in order to gain more responsibility on a specific project, area of the business, or more people responsibility.

You’ll find that having this understanding about yourself will help you make career decisions more easily and will help you feel happier and more fulfilled in the workplace. It will also allow you to have more impactful discussions with your leader about how you can be the most engaged in the workplace.

Join us The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center at one of our upcoming Enrichment Courses to learn more about the best practices of leadership, customer experience, and the talent experience.
The “John’s Perspective” posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Marriott International.