When I started working at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology, I met one of my mentors and best friends for the last 25 years.
Andy and I talked a lot about our work, science, politics, education, and family.
In one of those conversations about managing people right after I had become a group leader, he shared with me the idea of three kinds of payments:
Every activity we do provides us with three payments:
The pocket/wallet payment is the monetary compensation that allows us to pay the bills, keep our bellies full, and have a roof over our heads. It is the one that provides resources to support us and our families.
The payment for the heart is the payment to our emotional well-being, to our mood, is how that activity makes us feel, how it helps us to feel fulfilled, to feel useful, and to feel that what we do is important or makes a difference.
The payment for the brain, which has to do with the challenges that the activity poses, how it motivates us, how it helps us learn, and how it helps us become better professionals and people.
The best situation is when the three payments are present. Money is a decisive variable depending on our circumstances and the moment in our lives. But, if we have a choice, then a high payment in money will not compensate for the lack of payment for the heart and the brain. The same happens with the other currencies; sometimes, the heart payment is very high, but without the other payments, it is not sustainable to carry out that activity.
As managers and leaders, as people in charge and responsible for others, we must take care of that balance in the three currencies of payments. That way, we help each team member be their best version.
I always remember these three currencies of payments when I make decisions for myself and also when I reflect on and design programs and content about our communities of practice, the nature of our work, and our volunteer members.