3 reasons to ditch WIIFM for WIIFU

Have you heard of WIIFM? It stands for “what’s in it for me.” It's one of those cringeworthy acronyms that is all too common in today's business world. The idea behind it is that to motivate someone to do something, you should focus on helping them understand what's in it for them. The theory suggests that people will only be motivated to change their behaviour if there is something in it for them.

I'd like to suggest we ditch WIIFM for WIIFU - "What's in it for us?" Here is why:

1. Human's are motivated by more than self-interest.

The problem with WIIFM as a motivator is that it suggest that we are all motivated purely by self-interest. I don't believe this to be true.

My belief is that people find the strongest motivation when they are contributing to something greater than themselves. Human beings have thrived for fifty thousand years not because we are driven to serve ourselves, but because we exist to serve and support each other. WIIFM doesn't acknowledge that the strongest motivation actually comes from the fundamental human desire to cooperate and support each other. It is a tightly interwoven connection. It defines all that we do, and everything else depends upon it. We are hard-wired to think of the tribe, because without it, our odds of survival are pretty low.

2. WIIFM doesn't promote cooperation and collaboration.

No meaningful change has ever been created by one person working alone. Any meaningful change happens when people work together towards a common goal, and that's pretty hard if you're only focused on what's in it for you. That's why focusing on WIIFU is a winning strategy.

Do me a favour....reflect back on a team effort that you were a part of that went really well. Got that memory in mind? How much time did you spend thinking about what was in it for you when you were performing your role as a teammate in that memory? Not much I bet.

3. WIIFU connects people to purpose.

Humans, by their nature, seek purpose - a cause greater and more enduring than themselves. The beauty of WIIFU is that "us" has so many possibilities. "Us" could be our team, our organisation our family, our community or even the whole of humanity. Thinking about what's in it for us shifts our focus onto the benefits of the change beyond oursleves and will almost always reconnect us with the true meaning of our work.

There is a common bond between us all and it is through this bond, that we do our best work. All we need are leaders who focus on WIIFU and give us a good reason to commit ourselves to each other.

So next time you want a great team outcome or want to motivate people to change, get them thinking about WIIFU not WIIFM!

Ben Lancken