Sometimes it’s weird working as a support person (HR, Marketing, IT, Accounting, etc.) for a professional services firm. While the work you do may be excellent, it’s never what directly sells the business – I haven’t once heard of a client who said, “OK, you have a great design portfolio, but I’m going with you because your mentoring program is stellar!” (though an HR guy can dream, can’t he?). The very nature of the job means that it’s always going to be secondary, no matter how much it’s valued.
So when two people independently told me the work the company is doing in social media is pretty foolish these days, I wasn’t surprised or offended. They shared their viewpoints and I shared mine. To them, it takes away from the real business. For me, it sets us up for the future. In both our minds, we want to keep the firm sustainable. But they can only do that the way they know how – by designing great buildings and continuing what’s worked for them in the past – and I can only do that the way I know how – by creating new opportunities and channels to capture business and clientele and through making us the best place to work in order to attract and retain top talent.
The thing is, regardless of whether it’s front or center or behind the scenes, I believe in what I do. I believe that my actions have value and that I make important contributions. I wrote a few months ago about a friend of mine who was willing to take a pay cut while I was thinking about my generation’s need to “make a difference”. Some of my readers said that the money was pretty key, especially in these recession days. And that has to be step one – getting paid and being able to support yourself.
But revisiting this whole idea, I do think that once you’re at that stage, you want to get to the point where you’re invested in the work that you do. Bringing home a paycheck is the top reason for going to work, but if you’re not invested, the money, while it will keep you there, won’t stop you from being discontent and flat out bored. I’ve been thinking that maybe when we say that we want to “make a difference”, it’s just a fancy way of saying that we want to care about what we do, whether that’s designing a building that converts carbon dioxide to oxygen while serving as affordable housing for inter-city families, or filing the resume for that person who designed it.
Do I work for a non-profit and ultimately save the world? No. Maybe it is about the money for me sometimes. Do I enrich the lives of the people that I work with by creating a better environment to be in? Well, I like to think so. And that has to count for something, right?