Is this common employee question killing performance in your organization?
If there was one question I’d like to hurl into deep space, “What’s in it for me?” would be it. The main reason is that the “What’s in it for me?” question breaks down our hope that we might accomplish something special together, and all be better for it.
When individuals prioritize their own needs and gains at the expense of others, our sense of relatedness decreases—and both intra-team competition and interpersonal suspicion increase.
This amounts to a special form of self-protective behavior—hoarding and hiding information. It’s akin to sealing off a wing of the company library and saying that the information will not be shared with others to help solve the issues and challenges of the day. This behavior hinders the organization’s ability to learn quickly, which reduces its capacity to compete and serve its clients.
It’s especially troublesome when a manager asks the question.
Recent Blanchard research published in the Journal of Modern Economy and Management revealed that people who perceive their managers as primarily self-oriented experience more negative emotion and are less likely to speak positively about the organization to industry colleagues, friends, and family. They also have higher turnover intentions.
Conversely, people who see their managers as highly interested in the needs and well-being of employees at least as much or more than their own personal needs are statistically much more likely to:
- perform at high levels;
- use more discretionary effort;
- positively endorse the company to industry colleagues, friends, and family;
- be highly ethical in their jobs;
- have the intention of staying with the company longer.
In other words, a manager who is others-oriented fosters the kind of behavior and intentions that help organizations thrive.
So, what can you do to build more employee goodwill—and help fling “What’s in it for me?” into deep space?
- Stop using the phrase yourself.
- When you hear others using the phrase, share the business and personal benefits of being more others-oriented than self-oriented.
- Cite the latest research as often as you can—because people will want to know you have strong evidence for your new point of view.
Working together effectively is a key competency in today’s work environment. Here’s hoping that you and all your colleagues will together enjoy much shared happiness and success.
About the author:
The Motivation Guy (also known as Dr. David Facer) is one of the principal authors—together with Susan Fowler and Drea Zigarmi—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new Optimal Motivation process and workshop. Their posts appear on the first and third Monday of each month.