Making work a game – seriously!

ImageI think we can all agree that having more fun and excitement at work would be a welcome relief.

People play games for one reason only – they enjoy the experience. Game players get to test and acquire new skills, enjoy the camaraderie of the team (or even competitors), they like to win and the fun of winning. The game itself is often more important than the reward.

For entrepreneurs, business owners and executives, business is essentially a game. They love playing the game and they love to win – i.e. match wits with the competition and crush them! They know the rules! The profit generated by a successful business is part of “keeping the score” and winning.

In the lower ranks, business is not a game. In fact, work is – well – work. You show up, do your job, get paid, and go home. They don’t get to feel the excitement of the game – they don’t know the rules, don’t know the score – the game is hidden. They get the same reward (pay check) every month regardless of how well they do or how well the company does. The score is always the same – the scoreboard is hidden!

Open-Book Management principals teach everybody in the company to be a player. One of the initial concepts is to teach every employee how to read the numbers, what they mean and how it connects in with the big picture of helping the company win.

A game can be setup for any short-term initiative or problem that needs to be fixed or resolved. Games could be setup to raise sales, introduce a new product, lower office supplies expense, improve safety or decrease waste. Just about any company activity you would like improved can be turned into a game. Remember – every good game needs a scoreboard and a reward or payoff if you win. No scoreboard, no reward – no fun!

Keep in mind, games will get old if you don’t show employees the bigger picture of how winning this game will also improve the company results. The employees will start to feel like they are the ones being played and become cynical if you don’t connect the dots and give them a stake in the outcome.

By the way, you don’t have to think up the games yourself, involve your employees in making it happen. Develop a plan on how to show employees the bigger picture, keep educating them on the numbers of the business and how they drive company performance. If you implement playing games with the intention of educating employees and sharing in the improvements generated by the games – you will be successful. If you do it to manipulate your employees to work harder – the fun will be short lived and so will be any company improvements.

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