Archive for October, 2018

“What’s in it for you?”

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

wiifm1If you read this blog, you’ll have a better chance of being promoted, paid more, liked more, going home early.

Got your attention?

“What’s in it for you?” as a strategy is in fact short term and unsustainable for marketing, for management and finally for life.

“What’s in it for you?” can be a successful short term marketing tactic (buy one get one free; text for the chance to win; free lip gloss with every sku) that can lead to a race to the bottom.

When you’re the first to market with this tactic you can gain temporary advantage.  When you begin to rely on it because all the competitive brands in your sector do it to drive share or sales then you’re in a race to the bottom.

A strong brand doesn’t have to discount its way into the shopping basket.  Brand strength is one of the true paybacks of successful long term marketing.  The case studies that are rewarded in this year’s IPA effectiveness awards which I had the honour of judging are full of strong stories about building distinctiveness and driving effectiveness beyond the short term drug of discounting.  The databank is full of still more.

“What’s in it for me” can be a way of managing staff.  Open bar, summer picnic, free biscuits.  Tick off all your tasks and expect a reward.   Of course, staff need fun, rest and relaxation but a culture where you treat them like pets being trained to perform with treats or toddlers with a star chart doesn’t develop them or grow your business.

And what if you do want them to do something without reward, over and above the job description?  If the culture is one of performing seals purely acting in the hope of a fish then your chances of this are slim.

A strong team is made of individuals who look out for each other, not a collection of people who only act if there is something in it for them.  People don’t just act selfishly.  We’re not just in it for ourselves.  The collective matters, the team matters, and good managers find ways to encourage and reward good team citizenship over and above striving for personal reward.

Not all managers do this.  There are managers who will set their deputies the task of competing with each other for praise and promotion.  The best response to this is to point out that there’s plenty of competition outside the organisation, wasting energy on internal competition in a hideous and pale parody of Game of Thrones is a misuse of time and energy.

Of course there must a reward exchange.  There needs to be something in it for you.  But if it’s the first and only criteria then the outcomes won’t be pretty.  If you’re hooked on that “What’s in it for me?” hamster wheel professionally or personally, then it’s time to get off and start considering the bigger picture.  There are many ways you can behave at work which will help others.  Don’t be a bystander when you witness unfairness, speak up for the overlooked, the bullied or the silenced.  Or sign up here to be a gamechanger for disability in Scope’s new initiative.

What’s in it for you?  A real reason to get up and go to work happy.