For the last 20 years, I have listened to various presentations highlighting the WIIFM philosophy. Just in case you’ve not experienced such a topic, WIIFM stands for “What’s in It for Me?” and it has become a crutch for many employee-centric processes and programs. We can easily move into pandering to our staff, hoping that we can win them over. We become the not-quite-cool high school student trying to suck up to one of the populars by doing his/her homework so he/she might be seen talking to you.
Is that what our businesses have become? The desperate kid trying to fit in? You do know that those kids are obvious to others around them. It’s not a secret that they will do anything to be liked. So, if you think your employees are unaware of a company trying to do the same, you’d be mistaken.
When Jennifer Lopez’s character, Mary, in The Wedding Planner realizes that she’s missed out on so much of life because she’s been devoted to the brides she works for, it’s a heavy sadness. She sees that her desire to work hard was really about pleasing everyone. She even gets to the point of agreeing to marry someone she doesn’t love, just so she can be married and satisfy her father’s wishes.
And now, I see the hands raised wanting to challenge, or perhaps rebuke, me. Easy now. Of course, our organizations have to be appealing. But at what cost? Are we driving towards the latest trend in order to be “tight” and so that our staff knows they work for a “lit” company? (Apologies if I am blowing your mind with my use of current lingo…substitute those words in quotes with hip, cool or phat, if you prefer). The talent we have and the talent we want should represent more for the company than just the A-level high school socially-desirable crowd.
Over the past two weeks, I have attended two conferences. I couldn’t help but notice the giveaway stuff at the booths. There were so many fidget spinners available. And while I can appreciate the original intended ADHD audience, it’s now become a fad. It’s not likely that all kids have ADHD, but rather, the spinners are cool. They spin for a while. It’s mesmerizing to stare at, just like a fire. Has your company given out fidget spinners to all staff to keep up with trend?
It’s about balance and security. Trendy isn’t all bad, but has it become the goal? Have you put more time into the latest and greatest rather than sustainable core competencies? I know we need advancement of competencies. You share that at conferences, in group chats and in the Twitterverse. We are acutely aware of it. Let’s invest in that as much as being appealing, without being desperate.
If we have too much of our individual or corporate esteem tied into the audience we’re serving, we have it backwards. Let those around you and those you want to attract into the company see that you’re a functional, smart, balanced, creative organization. They will make healthier assumptions and connections to the company’s message. And from there, about others who work there. A candidate will be more inclined to want to join in. Just throwing out fidget spinners, 4 weeks of vacation, Friday half days, Taco Tuesdays, and HumpDay Happy Hours are not sustainable. They become old quickly, and therefore, make it easier to move on.
Check your organization’s motives and strategies. Align them to a balanced approach to corporate culture, investment and influence. Be willing to be that bold, just not desperate. Don’t be a Mary!