Growing Within Your Company:
WIIFM and BOSOC: Alphabets that Spell "Career Success"

by Pam Lassiter, Principal of Lassiter Consulting

Pam LassiterSomeone just did you a favor, an unsolicited, thoughtful favor without expecting anything in return. They told you about a shortcut in the application you're using. They brought you some coffee from Starbucks. They gave you a lead to a new client. How did that make you feel? In addition to feeling slightly surprised and grateful, your impression of that person shifted a little. You're more receptive, paying more attention to them, and thinking of how you might reciprocate. That's just the point. When one person takes the initiative to help another person, things happen. You can put that same energy to work to grow your reputation and your career.

Are you familiar with the acronym "WIIFM," what's in it for me? Sounds rather crass, but it's a strong motivator in most peoples' actions and decisions. If you flip your brain over to "what's in it for the person that I'd like to influence' rather than yourself, you're onto a whole new way of thinking, and one that is powerful both at work and in life.

If you're in sales, you're hopefully doing this already with customers. Doing it for yourself, however, regardless of your expertise, is still easier said than done. Reacting to what's in front of us is easier than figuring out what is in someone else's brain. Use the Marketing Circle© and BOSOC to help separate them.

On the top side of the Marketing Circle© are your needs: more responsibility, additional funding or staff, not getting wiped out in an acquisition, etc. On the bottom side, are the needs of your employer/Board/person to influence. The needs can range all of the way from "closing the deal on time" to "seamless system conversion," "looking good," and "finding time to breathe." Want to jot down some on both sides now?

Eliminate yourself and your own needs when brainstorming those of your employer. Here's a clue: the closer you stay to profitability in defining their needs, the more powerful the results will be.

Here is the $10M question. Do you communicate with your employer using words from the top side or the bottom side of the circle? It's pretty obvious with the Marketing Circle© which side is the effective one: the bottom side. You get what you want by using the BOSOC (bottom side of the circle) with others. People are motivated to help you if you can meet their needs and express ideas in their terms, just as people react after they receive a favor.

Here's your final exam. Choose the more effective approach of the two.

To increase your budget:

  1. I can't do X next quarter unless I get Y increase in funding.

  2. I've figured out a way that we could find the money to cover X next quarter. Can I go over it with you?

To dodge bullets during acquisitions:

  1. I'm going to keep my head down, do a good job, work hard and they'll realize that I'm essential.

  2. I see that the acquirer is interested in statistical modeling. Actually, that overlaps with my work and my interests. I'm going to see if I can go to some of the training in it that the new company offers.

It hopefully is obvious that the right answer in both cases is #2. They both demonstrate initiative on your part, creative thinking and problem solving... leadership characteristics that will add to your reputation and success.

You're in the process of doing favors for many people. You're helping your boss solve problems and save time. Every step you take helping your boss, focusing on corporate profitability, makes him/her, your company and you more successful. You're using the BOSOC to build your reputation and your options. Kudos.

About the author

Pam Lassiter is the author of "The New Job Security," a Wall Street Journal, Award Winning Book, and principal of Lassiter Consulting, which provides senior-level outplacement and retention services to companies and executives internationally. Pam hosted ExecuNet's New England regional networking meetings for 12 years and makes appearances on national television and radio programs. Her articles on career management appear in human resource and business publications including Fast Company, Fortune, The Financial Times, Bloomberg radio, and CFO.