Saturday, 27 September 2014

Release this free resource

Your employees work - and work hard  - for various reasons.

Obviously there are contractual reasons - they take your money and have to 'put in the hours'.

But above and beyond what they are contracted to, most employees put in 'discretionary effort' - over and above the minimum - perhaps because they like what they do, perhaps because they like the company, perhaps because they value being a member of the team they belong to.

Your job, clearly, is to maximise this discretionary effort.  You have to address the motivational factors that 'persuade' them to offer more; you have to give them the skills they need; you have to inform them about why things are important, involve them in key decision-making and respect their views.

Discretionary effort is almost free - you would be stupid not to try and release it.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Gamification (again)

Last week I talked about gamification - and whether it could be used to help improve productivity.
If you weren't thinking about it then, I hope you are now - Ambient research suggests that game-based learning will grow from $1.5 billion in 2012 to $2.3 billion in 2017. 
This is important.  If we are to grow our businesses, we have to grow our people - improve their knowledge and skills, making them flexible and adaptable employees.
Adding gaming elements to their training might work.
Let's remind ourselves about what gamification means - and what it doesn't. 
Asking the learner a series of questions, along with multiple options, is NOT game-based learning. 
Game-based learning is the application of gaming elements to a non-gaming context - such as learning or training ... and by gaming elements, we mean such things as:

  1. Challenge
  1. Motivation
  1. Rewards
  1. Feedback

- the elements that 'hook' gamers and keep them coming back for more.  Build these elements into the training of your employees and you might just 'hook' them into relatively painless acquisition of new knowledge and skills.  They enjoy; you win!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Using gamification to improve your business

We've heard quite a lot about 'gamification' recently - especially in the context of online learning.

I read the term many times before I sought to understand it ... so I thought some of you might be in the same boat and would appreciate an executive summary'.

If I'm right (after several minutes of research), gamification refers to taking processes (such as learning) and applying games-related functions like repetition, competition, rewards and recognition to make them more engaging to the participants.

Many industries have had some of these elements for a number of years, but gamification seems to mean taking these things to a new levels and integrating them more thoroughly. Organisations like TripAdvisor which give you credit for reviews you write (and regularly remind you of the number of readers, especially those who 'liked' one of your reviews) are 'gamifying' their websites.

So, whether you are ready to go full steam ahead with gamification, it might be worth considering how you can use the functions referred to above to better engage your customers or your employees.
Can you use data about output or performance levels to create competition between employees or workgroups; can you use that data as the basis of simple recognition or reward programmes? Can you use similar techniques when training staff for new roles - getting them to improve their' high score' all then time until they are fully competent?

Saturday, 6 September 2014

It was the right decision

Recently a colleague was bemoaning the fact that he had taken a bad decision.

When I questioned him about the decision, and about the outcomes, I formed the view that he had taken a 'correct' (or sensible) decision given the information he had available at the time.

As an example, consider the decision to make a bid in a game of bridge or make a move in a game of chess.  You make your move based on the experience you have of likely outcomes from the state of the game (or the cards you have been dealt) as it lies when you take the decision.  What happens subsequently will then depend on a number of additional factors - including the relative ability of you and your opponent(s).  You may lose the game.  However, if the same decision has to be made in the future, the likelihood is that you will make it in the same way - unless and until the number of times it turns out to be 'wrong' becomes statistically significant.

The same is true in business.  You must not confuse the outcome of a decision with the wisdom of the decision you took.  You must continue to take decisions based on the information you have available (though you might want to find out more if you can) and the experience you have of similar situations.  Then whatever happens, happens.  The outcome might not be favourable because of prevailing conditions - or due to plain chance.  But the decision was still the correct one.