What’s in a Rate?

value vs rate scale

Over my professional life, I’ve been on both sides of the fence: charge a rate for my services, or pay a rate for someone else’s services.

So like everyone else, I’ve had to decide what I was worth (sometimes even on the spot, which is NOT recommended…), and also decide what someone else was worth. It ain’t easy because it is very subjective. To make it easier, some people look at industry rates, to… standardize. But that is not necessarily good: by definition “industry” refers to somewhat large scale sampling, with attributes evened out or simplified. Yes, there is a need for that. BUT, there is also a need for considering each single decision/context/contract/hire: what is the value I am offering/looking for?

Because ultimately we are talking about people who are going to get paid for specific work, and because it [too] often creates tension/noise once we get into it, I recently have been trying to think a bit more about it, to hopefully make it easier, and fairer, somehow. And I hope I will generate some discussion and… make the world a better place, one person at a time.   😉

Side note: some organization have decide to open the books, at least internally, to let everyone know how much everyone is getting… (see Happy Manifesto, p. 68 “Make salaries open”): the result?  Very positive! (…supposedly).

So… here are my thoughts, and back to my initial question: what’s in a rate?

Yes, there are the standard attributes: education, skills set and experience. But is that it? Certainly not. What about specialties? What about other skills not necessarily [directly] required, but could very much be beneficial for the job? What about professionalism? Mindset (agility, creativity…)?

Should we not consider more than standard attributes?
Should we not consider more than standard attributes?

Yes, there are plenty of things to consider, not to mention the so-called “millennials”, which, I’ve been told, are changing the world!  Don’t get me wrong: I love working with everyone, and especially those that want things to move fast, including millennials.

Side note: yes, I know. Millennials are different. I was too when I showed up on the marketplace. Every generation is different… from the previous one. The millennials are probably somewhat different than previous new generations, because of the technologies, [and how they were raised]… Here’s a good piece on the topic: why everyone is wrong about working with millennials.

Back to the rate question: Wouldn’t it be great if we had a machine, or app, that scans the service offerer’s thumb [or retina], then the service requester’s, computes a bit, and then and bang!, displays the fairest rate???

Sure. But… it ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

Let’s go back to the rate’s dimensions I mentioned before, and break them down a bit:

  • Education
  • Skills set – Specifically those requested + others that may be beneficial
  • Experience
  • Professionalism
    • Quality of output (including attention to detail!)
    • Reliability
    • Engagement
    • Honesty (say when you can’t do something… capable of asking for help)
  • Mindset
    • Agility (don’t get stuck, open to learn new things – even on their own dime…)
    • Creativity (openness, stepping back, investigate, etc.)
    • Drive (the positive one, not negative of course)
      • Team-oriented, for the benefit of all
      • Personal, to surpass one self
    • Potential?

Let’s be clear: I am NOT saying everyone should have ALL of that!  I’m just saying there is more to consider than the basics.

To illustrate the variance that exists amongst people, consider the following illustration, which shows different people, differently “equipped’ who could potentially do the same job, at the [fairly] same quality, thus the same value ($$$):

Could different people, differently "equipped", do the same job, at the same level of quality?
Could different people, differently “equipped”, do the same job, at the same level of quality?

So if the above is true, how can we fairly evaluate these people???

Could this constitute a new resource criteria grid? Is it too “soft”? Could it be graded (not to say rated)?

Finally, whatever the criteria is… an important key aspect to keep in mind: the expectations need to be CLEAR!!!   …on BOTH SIDES!!!!    🙂

More to think about…


6 thoughts on “What’s in a Rate?”

  1. I personally was thinking about IQ vs EQ in reading your article. I think the IQ phenomenon is what people look at when deciding the rate (schooling, experience) but those that get the job done and generate repeat business are often high in EQ – something linked to leadership. I think the future is linked to drive and leadership and not necessarily generation, academic background…those are my thoughts.


  2. Thanks Niki. I like the IQ vs EQ. Even though Emotional Intelligence has been getting more attention lately, with reason, organizations hiring or retaining services tend to stick to IQ as it is easier to quantify.


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