I hope you had a fantastic, relaxing weekend and a great Mother’s Day.
W.I.I.F.M. It is an acronym that has been around for decades. It stands for What’s In It For Me? On the surface, that may sound a little selfish. In reality, we do things for only one of two reasons: To gain a benefit or avoid a loss. This could be an emotional benefit or loss, but it holds true nonetheless.
Why is W.I.I.F.M. so important? Because it is the way to tap into what motivates us and others to repeatedly create an environment that helps us flourish. Whether using this concept for your kids, co-workers, managers, family and friends or significant others, the same concepts hold true.
I often get the question, “How do I motivate my peers, boss, husband, kids, etc.? I believe that every one of us is motivated. Now, some people may be motivated to do as little as possible, but they are still motivated by something. Unfortunately, you cannot make someone motivated. While you can provide fear or incentive for immediate motivation, it doesn’t last, and if overused, it can have negative effects.
All people are motivated. The challenge is that we are all motivated by very different things, and we do things for our reasons, not others’. Remember, ALL behavior has a reason. So the challenge isn’t really motivation, it is leadership. The true question is not, “How can I motivate someone”? But rather, “How do I create a motivational climate that taps into what already motivates this person?”
I used to work on a very fancy golf course. Every time I would do something well, my boss would give me golf balls, very expensive golf balls. But he forgot to ask me a very important question. You guessed it, “Do you play golf?” Nope. I’m even bad at putt-putt. I am, however, motivated by feedback and appreciation. One day, I was so excited to share the feedback I had received from the CEO. He had told me one of the sessions I developed was particularly helpful, and that I did a great job. I proceeded to tell my boss and he said, “Oh, Anne, he says that to everyone. But here are some golf balls.” What? Golf Balls? All I wanted was a pat on the back, but that opportunity to tap into my motivators was not only missed but made worse!
So how do you find out people’s W.I.I.F.M.? There are few ways:
1. Pay attention. If you pay attention to what people talk about, what they are interested in, and what they focus on, you can often get a sense of what naturally motivates them.
2. Ask. It may seem fairly simple, but when was the last time you asked people what you could do the help them stay motivated? I had a 70 year old man in one of my training sessions that took this on as a personal assignment. He went home and asked his wife what motivated her. She looked at him and said, “It only took you 50 years of marriage to realize that all you had to do was ask me! I would love it if we could take walks in the morning and spend just a little while talking every day.” You might be saying, “shouldn’t they have discussed that long ago?” Maybe, but better late than never!
3. Pay attention to what de-motivates someone and STOP doing it! It’s not rocket science. If you know someone hates to be nagged, talk to them about the way they would like to be approached when there are things to do. Or if you know that someone gets embarrassed easily, make a concerted effort not to put them in uncomfortable situations.
In a time when we have all been hit hard financially, it is important to remember that money is not a primary motivator. Sure, we like what the money provides (things, status, flexibility, freedom, etc.), but typically, the money itself isn’t the primary motivator. Something as simple as a “Good morning! How was your weekend?” is all it takes to make someone feel appreciated and cared about.
So what’s your W.I.I.F.M.? You are the only one who can keep tapping into it to stay motivated. This means, if you are waiting for your spouse, kids, boss, employees, friends or family to motivate you, you will constantly set yourself up for disappointment. You know yourself better than anyone.
As you have discussions at home and work this week, do what you can to tap into others’ motivators. It creates win-win situations and makes life a whole lot easier!