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When Organizational Change Looms, Ask, “What’s in it for Me?”

When Organizational Change Looms, Ask, “What’s In It For Me?”

When leading a company through a big change, sometimes it’s best to put yourself first.

The WIIFM approach — “What’s In It For Me?” — is part of our natural psychology to ensure our basic needs (like belonging, safety, and self-worth) are met.

On the surface, WIIFM may seem selfish. But it isn’t a blatant disregard for others; rather, in addressing your personal needs, you are more likely to do the same for others and your organization.

Embrace the Vision from the Inside Out.

Putting WIIFM before WIIFO — “What’s In It For the Organization?” — requires a delicate balance of maturity, self-awareness, and big-picture considerations. Here are three steps to make it work:

Take your organization’s pulse.

During times of change, leaders can become blinded by the transition. But they can’t afford to lose sight of what this change will mean for all of the stakeholders.

Weigh the pros and cons from all vantage points, and don’t filter out beliefs that contradict your own. How will this transition affect communications, group dynamics, or your employees’ workloads?

Change management fails a whopping 70 percent of the time, according to recent McKinsey Global Institute data. With due diligence, you can steer your organization to the right side of that statistic.

Take care of yourself, and the rest will follow.

As a leader, your needs must be met in order for you to buy into the changes at hand. How will this new direction affect you? Do you feel comfortable with its concepts? If your employees sense you’re not on board, they won’t join you.

Taking WIIFM into account before applying it to the organization at large will save you time and money trying to identify staff needs, priorities, and requirements. You must embrace the change to motivate others to do the same.

One large city agency in the U.S. often uses WIIFM in its strategic planning and change management. When its leaders’ needs are being met, they are much more likely to communicate the value of the change to their subordinates. That messaging trickles down to colleagues throughout the organization. And this type of good communication has the power to make or break your planned transition.

Rally others around the cause.

You’ve bought into the plan; now your employees need to follow suit. This is where WIIFO comes into play.

Early in a recent three-day training session, state government transportation workers were reluctant to engage. But by focusing on how they personally could transform their organizations into better places to work — where they and their ideas mattered — the more engaged they became.

At a time when nearly 50 percent of American workers say they never feel appreciated at work, getting that agency’s employees invested in WIIFM encouraged them to share more ideas, enjoy collaborating with their colleagues, and invest in the organization’s future.

Change can cause anxiety for CEOs and employees alike. But in accepting a level of self-need, you allow yourself to transcend to a more holistic view. Just as the old adage tells us we must love ourselves before we can truly love others, business leaders must accept and embrace WIIFM before they can truly provide for their organizations.

This article originally appeared on CEO