What's In It For Them?

The most common question I'm asked, when I begin working with a company to support their change initiative is, "how do we get people to do what we need them to do?" When the stakes are high and time-lines are tight, answering that question is key to moving any project forward. So, why is it so hard to get people on board, and what can leaders do to help people dig in and support the change?

All organizational change requires individual behavior change. I think people drag their feet and resist engaging in the new behaviors that change requires of them because they can't see the personal benefit of cooperating. They don't get the WIIFM (what's in it for me) and until that question is settled in people's hearts and minds, very little happens.

Now, I'm not saying that we humans aren't capable of altruistic behavior on the job. Most employees are happy to contribute to the United Way campaign or pitch in for an ill team member when necessary. The WIIFM in these instances is easily identified; there's a good feeling attached to helping those in need. What I'm talking about is that committed, sustained behavior change that's required to transform an organization.

Here's the deal - People need incentives to make real change happen. That new outfit for loosing those last 10 pounds, the degree for slogging it through all your classes or a medal for being the first to cross the finish line. Incentives give us energy when we're tired, a boost in morale when we're discouraged and a reason to go on - when we're not sure we can keep going.

Basking Robbins has 31 flavors of ice cream. Do you offer thirty-one different reasons for employees to engage in your change effort? People want different things, and incentives generally fall into five categories:
Power or status activities
· Unique Opportunities
· Recognition
· Compensation
· Opportunities to Pay it Forward

Incenting employees can be as easy as asking them how they see their part in the change, where the jazz is for them, and what reward or pay-off they see for helping their team or department achieve the new goals. If you ask, people will be happy to tell you what's in it for them. Short - sighted leaders sometimes think that the only employee incentive (WIIFM) should be keeping a job. Not enough with today's war for the best talent.

In the spirit of Christmas, I've got a gift for you. Clink on this link Incenting & Rewarding and you can download four pages of possible incentives. You may find some that fit with your culture and change effort. Or maybe the things on my list will spark an idea in your mind, or your employee's minds. I encourage you to get familiar with exactly what's in it for your employees to get on board. Help them find their WIIFM early on in the project - and you'll see a greater degree of engagement all along the way.

Let me know which of the incentives you like best. Better yet, add to my list by posting to my blog.