I’m Getting Paid To Do This?!

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Some jobs are so enjoyable that you might consider showing up even if you weren’t on the payroll. It’s a rare occurrence but such jobs should be enjoyed because one like it may never happen again.

Example One: An early job for me in my career mosaic was as a lifeguard on the ocean. I was perched on the beach all day in an elevated stand enjoying the sun and water and all things beach related. There were rescues and emergencies but those situations only enhanced the job because in those cases I was helping others. I was surrounded by lifeguard partners, friends and special people that made the experience even more exceptional. And I was paid.

Any one who works as a taster in a candy factory, in animal rescue facilities or in the ski patrol might identify with the “getting paid for this?” question.

Example Two, and the other dimension to the “getting paid for this…” question is from the dark side. Amanda was a longtime employee of a government agency. Her job was to verify signatures and file documents for future reference. After twenty-five years on the job no one had ever asked for her to pull or verify a document. Not one.

Amanda’s job is an example of a situation where you are getting paid although you know you are really not doing anything. You are not adding value, you are bored, you are not being productive, or helping the organization in any way you can discern. In short, you can’t believe no one knows that you are hanging out being sort of busy, drawing a paycheck and being a drag on the success of the organization. And you are getting paid for it.

People who work in civil service, in the bowels of large corporations or unsuccessful organizations might identify with this conundrum.

If you have an Example One job you are lucky. If you have an Example Two job you should either look for another job or hope you are never discovered. Most jobs fall between the two examples given but the point is, someone is paying you to do something. The more closely aligned to the core of the business, the more likely it is that you will feel like your efforts make a difference and that you will be well compensated. Ask yourself, who is paying you and for what activity.

What you do should be related to what the organization says they do. If you work for FEDEX, one would hope you are doing something that help with deliveries. If you work for Chipotle you should be doing something that relates to food. If you work in a professional service business you should be doing something that serves clients in a way that makes them want to pay for it.

It’s not a mystery. A truly special organization will try to create roles that will make people say, “I can’t believe I am getting paid for this”. On the way to “special” the least one should expect is a line of sight to feeling great about making a contribution because you are being paid to do just that.

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