Defining Value

, 2008-08-29

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of value.  Earlier this week a colleague of mine tendered his resignation quite unexpectedly and at a very inconvenient time, a mere four weeks away from the consummation of a 2-year sofware implementation and data conversion project.  Citing health and family concerns, he decided that the value he received from his work was disproportionately low compared to what he was giving up in return.  Although the timing of this departure bothered me, I can't blame the guy for looking out for the long-term well-being of his family and his own health.

I've always been a busy guy, and I have to be cautious not to overextend myself for fear of shortchanging a consulting client or my fulltime gig.  I must admit that, when it came to crunch time, I chose the option to cut into my family time or my own "me-time" rather than lower my professional standards.  For me, in the here and now, the value I receive from going the extra mile professionally is worth what it costs me.  And even though I have to gently remind them from time to time, my family tends to believe the same.

Whether you are a fulltime employee, a contractor, or somewhere in between, both you and your employer/client must agree on the value of your services.  The value you bring to them will at some point intersect with the value you place on your own time, and it is in that space that both you and the source of your income will be happy with the relationship.  Now that sounds like a little bit of psychobabble, but I mean it to be an encouragement to both employers and employees (or contractors) to set your standards high enough to avoid conflicts in the definition of value.  A good employer will not try to lowball employees or contractors and will spend the time to properly vet candidates (both of which will eventually lead to a higher quality of candidates in the pool).  Smart workers will set their rates or salary expectations based realistically on their abilities and experience, and will not settle for a low offer or substandard terms simply to get the assignment.

Value is one of those concepts that varies widely from one person to the next.  How do you define it?

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