Ever try to get someone to volunteer to help you out with a project? Or what about getting employees to work collaboratively on a new organization-wide project?

Were you successful in recruiting your volunteers or employees? If you were, then you most likely tuned into their “WII-FM” (“what’s in it for me”) station.

I find that people (and organizations) sometimes take for granted that others will simply jump onboard to assist with a cause or a project just because they are asked to do so. If this were the case, it would certainly make it easier for those of us who ask, but you probably know how difficult this can be.

In order to recruit individuals (paid or unpaid) for anything, it is always easier if you know their WII-FM.

To give you an example, I recently worked on a project with a team of intelligent managers who were assigned to the project by their employer. Initially, the team was excited to be there, but trepidation soon set in. What they thought they were getting by participating in the project was not what they expected.

For one, more work and responsibility was added to their already overburdened schedules and they were being told that they would be taking on a role after the project for which most of them felt unqualified and ultimately afraid of failure. As the project progressed, the team members turned over frequently. Why? Because the original team’s needs were not met – not by a long shot! Their bosses were out of touch with their WII-FM needs.

As a leader in your organization, you know that in order to recruit employees (and volunteers) for projects or events, you need to inspire them and build cohesion among them such that they will want to be on your team. You need to sell the experience, not the product (after all, how exciting is it to work on a records management program? really?).

It’s the experience of working together with a dynamic group of individuals and being given the power to make decisions about the organization’s future that will inspire your employees. That’s what you need to sell! No one will jump at the chance to work on the “records management program,” but most will jump at an opportunity to be involved in decision-making.

One of the best ways that I know how to tune into employees’ WII-FM is for leaders to treat their employees as their peers. When you treat your employees as your peers, using empathy to recognize and understand their point of view, you will inspire your employees to produce great outcomes for your organization.

It’s leaders and employees working shoulder-to-shoulder that make the organization efficient, productive and profitable. If you’re not shoulder-to-shoulder, it’s time to get up from behind the executive desk and walk the shop floor. That’s the best way to hear your employees’ WII-FM station.

Communicating for Results

Here’s a true story. It happened via e-mail (e-mail contents modified to protect the innocent).

Consultant: Hello, Simon, As you may be aware, I am the consultant working on developing your company’s Information Security Policy. I was given your name by John Smith who said that you would be able to answer my questions in relation to your company’s strategy as it pertains to information security. I am available almost anytime next week except not between 9 and noon on Monday and not on Wednesday. I need one hour of your time, please. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Client: Sure I can meet with you, but what is this about? I don’t know if I would be the best person to talk to about this. Would you be able to meet with someone else?

Consultant: If you feel that I should be speaking with someone else, then I can certainly do that. Who should I contact?

Client: It turns out that you do need to talk to me. I thought this was about some other topic.

Consultant: When would you be able to meet with me, please? As I mentioned, my schedule is fairly flexible for next week except I am not available between 9 and noon on Monday and not on Wednesday.

Client: How about at 10:00am on Monday?

Consultant: Unfortunately, as I indicated in my original email, I am not available on Monday at the time specified. Would the afternoon work for you? Say at 1:00pm?

Client: Oh, okay. I missed that. Sure Monday at 1:00pm works for me.

Consultant: Thank you. I’ll send a meeting invite, shortly, so that we’ve both got a placeholder in our calendars. See you on Monday.

Communication such as the above happens all too frequently. It causes not only delay in action, but frustration and even anger at the target. And in the above case, it took four e-mail transactions to have the original question answered and because the consultant and client have not yet met, when they finally do meet, the consultant may already have formed a preconceived image of a client who is very inefficient. This is not a good way to start a meeting.

So what do your communications say about you?

Here are nine ways to ensure you engage in effective communication and maintain a professional image at all times.

  1. Before responding to a message, first read or listen (as the case may be) to the full message. Don’t just skim over key words and assume you understand the full meaning of the message (see the above example for what happens when the full message is not read initially). You will save time and frustration not only for yourself, but also for the originator of the message.
  2. Communicate on time and within a reasonable time. Emails and voice messages must be answered within 24 hours (or less). No exceptions. Claims of being too busy just don’t cut it. If you’re too busy to respond to business messages within 24 hours, then you’re either in the wrong job or are performing your job very inefficiently. Or both.
  3. When texting, be sure to keep texts brief and to the point, but also be courteous and respond promptly. Text messages are meant for immediacy and expediency. They should be treated that way.
  4. When using blog posts or team wikis to communicate instead of other methods such as e-mail, in person meetings, or video conferencing, make sure that those with whom you are communicating are aware that you are using these modalities, so they don’t contact you via other methods and wait for a response.
  5. When leaving a message, whether it’s via e-mail, voice, text, etc., always leave your full contact information where the person can reach you. This means leaving your name and telephone number at a minimum. E-mail messages should contain a full signature block that includes your title, organization name, organization address and telephone number, and organization website.
  6. If you’re listening to someone in person, be an active listener. This means really listening to the speaker by minimizing internal and external distractions, facing the speaker, and asking questions to clarify for meaning (this is especially important if you are being asked to do something). Research shows that we can hear four times faster than we can talk, so we have an ability to sort ideas and understand for full meaning before responding.
  7. Pay attention to body language. Nonverbal cues can give you more information about the delivered message. And when you watch for nonverbal cues, remember that others are also watching you. What is your body language saying about you or your message?
  8. Practice emotional awareness while communicating. The ability to manage all of your feelings appropriately during communication is the basis for effective communication.
  9. Still using carrier pigeons to deliver your messages? It’s time to retire.



Money, Money, Money

A study in 1972, repeated in 2004, showed that the percentage of very happy Americans stayed virtually unchanged at about 31 percent. This despite the fact that the average income increase was about 50 percent. The findings of this study were also replicated in other countries. But doesn’t money make us happy?

It turns out that when we get more money, we are happier with more money, but only for a short while. Once we adapt to ‘more money,’ our happiness level drops to previous levels because now we need to acquire even more to get back to the ‘high’ level of happiness that we had when we got more money. To sustain our happiness then, we need to keep making more money.

But what about individuals who already have more money than they could possibly spend in several lifetimes? Last week, I listened to a news reporter ask Jimmy Pattison, one of the world’s richest people, if he ever takes a vacation. Pattison’s response was that everyday is a vacation for him. So the question here is why would one of the world’s richest people continue to work so hard? Why not retire?

It turns out that those individuals that succeed at what they do tend to keep doing more of the work that makes them so successful. It is their drive to succeed that keeps them at their jobs, but it is also their creativity that drives them to keep raising the bar. Their success drives them, not the money. In fact, the more one is successful, the greater is the need to continue to be successful in order to sustain an acquired level of happiness that is brought on by success. Money is just a nice side effect of success.

That is why successful people and organizations continue to be even more successful. They work hard to create success for themselves and as a result to increase their profits. I would say that there is a strong possibility that the most successful and profitable organizations in the world also have the happiest employees. The common denominator? Money. So does money make one happy? Yes.