If You Take Money out of the Equation, How do you Measure Success?

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 16, Issue No. 6b
October 15, 2017

By Dan Coughlin


I’ve often heard this statement: that person has a really good job. Or this one: that person has a great job.

Those statements are code for meaning that person either makes a really good salary or a really great salary. Whenever I hear that I always think to myself that there has to be more to a really good job or a really great job than just making money. There has to be more to being a great organization than just how big the organization is financially.

Money is important. It’s important for individuals and it’s important for businesses. However, it can become so important that it can overshadow everything else in terms of defining success. We have to be able to peel back the layers of important outcomes in order to understand factors other than money.

Questions for Measuring Success with Money Not in the Equation

Here are three questions I want you to reflect on.

First, if you take your financial compensation out of the equation, how do you define success for yourself at work?

What would you use to determine your success if you don’t know what you’re being paid?

You might consider the quality of your work, the impact you had on other team members and on your customers and suppliers, and what you learned that day to improve the future of your organization. You might consider your professional relationships, and think about what you do to enhance a relationship or start up a new one. What would you use to evaluate your success without including money?

Second, if you take your organization’s revenues and profits out of the equation, how do you define success for your organization?

If you don’t know whether or not revenues and profits are going up or down, what would you use as indicators of success as an organization? Peel back the layers.

You might evaluate whether the products and services that are being sold are getting better or worse. You might measure success based on the results that your customers achieve when they use your products or services. You might measure whether your organization did what it said it would do for employees, customers, and suppliers. What would you look at?

Third, if you take the things you can buy out of the equation, how do you define success in your personal and community life?

Let’s extend these questions beyond your job and your employer, and look at success at home or in your community.

What would have to happen today for you to consider this to be a successful day?

For me, it includes showing my family members and telling my family members that I love them. It includes spending some time in nature and some time in exercising. It includes learning something either through reading or watching a film. For you, how will you determine if a day was successful or not if you take out what you can buy?

You can put money back in later on as an indicator of success, but for now I would like you to answer those three questions. Success has many layers of evaluation. We need to dig deep to get past just using money as our sole indicator of success.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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