Sports are something that everyone can understand. Not everyone is necessarily a fan, but the concept of deciding who is the fastest or who scores the most points is straightforward. Our understanding of sports is visible in the sports analogies we use daily–hitting a home run, backing up to punt, and running as a dark horse.
It is this concept that has created sales gamification, a process by which progress toward company metrics is reported in a sports-like format, showing video displays of who leads the race and who else is in the running. The system provides a quick, infographics-style glance at what is going on, giving everyone an update on where things stand without calling a meeting to tell them.
When a system like this goes into place, it can benefit the company in several key ways:
Keeping Performance Out Front
Pie charts and bar graphs are informational, but today’s worker prefers snapshot updates. Getting those rapid, current updates is easier with gamification because it doesn’t require constant emails, computer presentations, or sales meetings to update staff. The monitor is on, and the latest information is right there.
This is a very effective way to remind people of the importance of having total focus on goals. Many companies generate all kinds of analytics without ever sharing them, so a gamification system permits updates from areas where we don’t normally get news. You can report on the number of trouble tickets each IT staffer has handled, or the number of facility repairs made by maintenance staff. This helps the unsung heroes get a little recognition as well as motivating them to see their own progress.
Spurring A Great Race
An employee’s progress toward a certain metric can be hard to measure in relative terms. You may feel like you are selling like crazy, but you don’t have a good picture of how you measure up until monthly meetings. With gamification, you find out where you stand on a basis as frequent as management desires, and you are continuously motivated to see yourself move up the leaderboard.
And regardless of the competition aspect of it, you at least have a tool to evaluate yourself. Your numbers sound low this month; is there an economic issue that’s affecting the entire staff, or are you just struggling? Knowing the overall benchmarks can provide a lot of help in determining whether you are addressing the right reasons for low output.
Annual awards are great. People deserve recognition for twelve months of effective work. But recognition doesn’t have to wait until the banquet or the picnic every 365 days. As we noted above about keeping performance out front, it is very valuable to employees when they know day by day where they stand. And when that knowledge is accompanied by their smiling company photo as the top performer, it gives them a little of that annual feeling all year.
But it’s even helpful for those who aren’t at the top. Seeing yourself begin to show up in the top 5 is a powerful motivator. You see that you are on the right track, and you know that you are getting among the top performers in the company. You may even grab a little time at the top. If this sounds just like weekly sports polls of college teams, it is supposed to. Every underdog likes a few minutes as the favorite, after all.
It may seem contradictory to say that competition builds teamwork, but it actually can. The reporting of who your top five people are doesn’t build resentment by Numbers 2 through 4 against Number 1. Instead, it creates a camaraderie among them as the hotshots of the company. All employees need to remember that sometimes there’s a photo finish, and finishing a couple thousand in sales behind the next person is by no means a sign of poor performance.
As those top five people look at their results, they will gain respect for each other as a worthy opponent. And perhaps most important of all, they will look at outside competition in a different way. They’ll see either how other companies fall short or outrun them, and they will be motivated either to stay on top or to make up ground.
Sustaining momentum and continuously rewarding excellence can be a difficult and expensive challenge. Gamification can permit a fast, understandable review of how things are going, giving employees greater feedback about the company’s progress–and their own.