I recently had a challenging but thought-provoking experience with an interior designer. I had this renovation project I wanted to do, and I quickly realized I lack creative thinking around interior design. So, I found a referral for an interior designer. Shortly after I paid the retainer, I began getting invoiced by the hour or for every minute we spoke. At the same time, she wasn’t following through on her deliverables and commitments. Nevertheless, she continued to invoice me for every conversation or communication, much like an attorney.  

After four months of this, it came to a head. 

I had a conversation with her about the importance of keeping me in the loop on progress that was being made. In the talk, I also shared the importance of finishing items she committed to and returning emails in a timely manner, which felt remedial. After another three-week lag between a commitment and her promised communication, I terminated the contract. 

As irritated as I was, the final conversation was fascinating because I really wanted to help her see the difference between billing for time versus billing for value. 

I asked, “Do you feel the amount I’ve invested in this project has delivered the experience you wanted me to have?” She couldn’t answer that question. Like a politician, she squirmed and squirmed and squirmed. From this view, she missed the point. She missed the learning opportunity, which was if she had been focused on the value she was trying to deliver, we would have reached a better end state together. We would have gotten somewhere. But she sold me a service delivered by an hourly rate. As a result, she demoted herself to being an hourly worker.

This got me thinking; When some people rise in the morning, are they more focused on getting paid for their time or getting paid for their value? Ironically, the wealthiest people I know focus on their value (even if their compensation is a function of time). Star athletes, actors, high compensated leaders, surgeons… we want to hire the ones that provide value; and with that, we pay them extraordinary rates for their time.

Thinking about one’s job is very fascinating to me. Do you think of your job in the tactical sense? Is it billing for hours? Is it checking boxes? Is it completing invoices? Or do you think of the actual value that you provide? More like: “Why is the world a better place because I got out of bed this morning and did this work?” And why is the company more successful? Why are the people who work at the company better off because I came to work today? 

From my story, she didn’t treat herself like a sophisticated and knowledgeable service provider or expert. I wasn’t paying for her hours. I was paying for a solution to a problem and agreed upon the outcome. I was paying for her skill set…..the skill set to solve this problem and create this output. That is very, very different from paying for hours. 

In this day and age, we are in an energy economy. What is an energy economy? We are no longer paying people for dollars and cents minute by minute. Instead, we are paying people for the energy and trait of the value they bring. In my example, I wouldn’t have cared if she literally had a robot in the background doing all the work in half the estimated time to get me the solution and outcome I was looking for.  

Stories and experiences like these are how Leader In Motion came to be. Ever-evolving and effective leadership isn’t about what books you’ve read or what hours you’ve spent in school. Yes, intellect is essential, but it’s what you do. It’s what you do in situations like these to completely transform the value you bring; delivering value builds long-standing relationships and creates raving fans who stay with you and can’t wait to refer you the next time someone asks. 

She could have gotten my business back and then some because all I really wanted her to do was acknowledge that the value had not been delivered and re-commit to creating that value. But she was so focused on the hourly worker role, billing, and tactics that she missed a massive opportunity.

What about you? Do you get up to deliver time or value? And what do you expect of your team? Are you treating them like hourly workers, making them punch a clock or are you challenging them to deliver real value based on their skills and expertise?

Share this