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Let Their Lives Flourish – Essentials Of Enterprise Gamification

Our CEO and gamification guru Jukka Koskenkanto talked about the essentials of enterprise gamification last fall at the Nordic Digital Business Summit in Helsinki.

It’s About Time to End the Stone Age of Management

It’s Time to End the Stone Age of ManagementDo you have to fill in performance appraisals once or twice a year in your workplace? Does this form filling process feel meaningful to you? Do the forms have any connection to your daily work?

According to research, man is happiest when he collaborates with other people and pursues meaningful goals. The best way to encourage him for better performance is to give him positive feedback on his actions often enough.

In order to perform better in the ever so tough competition, companies are aiming at being agile and innovative in business, and at the same time they wish their employees would be more active, and responsible, and helpful for their colleagues, and have initiative. Have you ever heard of a company that would not try to get rid of the silos? These goals are really something to stand up for, but too often they are not being lead through the organization.

It’s usually quite hard to put goals into practice if there is no process. I’ve kept asking myself, why performance management practices in companies are based on yearly performance reviews regardless of the set goals and research knowledge. There are various problems with performance reviews:

a) The goals are trickled down from the top-level of the organizational hierarchy
b) The reviews are private and only few can access the information
c) Feedback is usually given only if the employee has not performed well enough

I argue that the only reason these practices are kept alive is tradition; this is the way it has always been and there’s no knowledge of better. However, research shows that this traditional approach to performance management will most likely lead to undesirable behavior: avoiding mistakes, repeating old patterns and doing just the minimum. Of course the traditional approach and negative interference to poor performance can quickly adjust the performance level for better, but this will not bring about lasting change. It doesn’t encourage employees to top performance and it surely does not advance innovativeness.

In our opinion, innovativeness and agility are not the sole privilege of startup companies. It’s mostly a matter of inspiring leadership and management. What I certainly don’t mean with inspiration in this context, is management blogs and videos shared in the corporate intranet, if at the same time employees are filling out performance appraisal forms which don’t have a clear connection to the mood boosting videos published a week before. Corporate culture is formed based on what is being done and what kind of actions the processes promote; not based on what we say we’re going to do.

We at Cloudriven want to make performance management inspiring, engaging and social – who knows, maybe even addictive :). We also want to monitor work progress on a daily and weekly basis, give positive feedback for performance and attach work to a broader context and meaning. Our goal is to help our clients to create sustainable value in their business. Natural byproducts for this are better work and customer satisfaction as well as better financial results.

If you still believe in the traditional way of management, fear not. Inspiration, engagement and social are not synonyms for laziness. Sweat will still be the cologne of accomplishment and success the ladder you cannot climb with your hands in your pockets. We’re not going to demolish the significance of individual performance, yet we’re putting it into a larger frame.

How does that happen? Invite us for a coffee and we can find the solution that best fits your organization’s needs. Be sure to check out our Habit for Performance Management solution as well.

The Secret to Success?

The fifth Nordic Business ForumRoad to Success took place last week and the theme this year was Forward. The first day was filled with inspiring speakers, like author and management researcher Jim Collins, the CEO of KONE Matti Alahuhta, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 38th Governator of California, who is of course best known for his movies. In their presentations, the gentlemen discussed about the reasons behind success.

The essence of the day was captured in Matti Alahuhta’s answer to the question of what was the most important reason behind the success of KONE. For Alahuhta, the reason was KONE’s ability to engage people, because it’s the people who make change into reality. There are many things that have an effect on employee engagement: rhythm, repetition, management’s ability to listen, feedback, individual’s ability to reflect on their own procedures and actions, support from the community etc.

I got to thinking, how is it even possible to promote success with business applications if one of the most important factors explaining success is how engaged people are at their work? I came to the conclusion that it most certainly is possible, but the answer is not solely in usability, which can either block or hinder the use of the application at work, but it’s not the actual reason to be engaged at work. Along with removing blocks, we should also think about the ways the application could make work a meaningful experience.

Do the business applications of your company provide your employees a meaningful work experience? Do the applications communicate your company’s goals? How about linking the goals to employees’ daily tasks? Do the applications give feedback for performance? Do they sustain the right rhythm and repeat important things regularly? Can they be used whenever and wherever with any device?

If your answer to any of the above questions is “no”, we’d be glad to hear more about your goals and challenges that you’re facing when trying to reach the goals. If you answered “yes” to all of the questions, we congratulate you and wish you all the best on your journey.

The leap from good to excellent is long to make. But with a right kind of business application, it can be made significantly shorter. It’s easier than just sleeping less, as Mr. Schwarzenegger suggested in his presentation.

Meaningful Work Is the Best Cure for the Fear of Engagement

Engaged WorkersWhat kind of results would you dare to expect of an ice hockey team that has only 2.6 players who are willing to give everything they’ve got for the team? 12.6 players don’t really care about the end result and 4.8 are just waiting for the beach balls to be thrown on the ice.

According to a Gallup survey, employee engagement matters. Organizations that had at least 9.3 engaged employees per one unengaged grinch achieved 147 % better Earnings Per Share than their competitors.

This should at least draw the attention of business decision-makers, but engagement should also be in the interest of the employee. It happens to be so that the engaged employees felt their lives to flourish three times more likely than the unengaged. So what’s so wrong about being inspired and engaged?

Cures for the Fear of Engagement

We believe that the fear of engagement at work eases, if the person can feel that she’s doing a meaningful job. Work becomes meaningful when the employee

1) respects the shared goals of the working community,
2) understands how her work is connected to the goals,
3) can build her success on her strengths,
4) receives respectful, yet guiding feedback from her supervisors and colleagues about her successes and failures,
5) is given the chance to take care of both her physical and mental welfare by exercising, getting enough rest and eating healthy.

In addition, the Gallup survey emphasizes that you should invest on recruiting the right people and try to combine the strengths of the employee with the right work tasks. Employee welfare is of course important as well.

Janne wrote in June about the way we at Cloudriven found the cure for the fear of engagement. He highlighted three important aspects:

1) Manage weeks, not years
2) Choose three things you promise to deliver
3) Create positive social pressure to motivate

The first point is usually forgotten in many organizations, because many times the management is so focused on the figures that the actions behind the results are neglected. All kinds of policy action programs may still be launched, if the white papers support those. The most important thing is still missing, though. The actions! In these cases the end result typically is either a complex organizational chart that includes comprehensive descriptions of the main processes and subprocesses, a new information system or a prestudy that comes with a long list of development proposals. Whereas in organizations where people share the same goals, not one of the working weeks is the same and work is done a little bit differently every week. At the same time this indicates that

a) the management has successfully communicated the shared goals and defined the weekly critical actions together with the employees,
b) the respectful yet guiding feedback has been given to the right people, so that actions can be changed.

Most of us want to keep our word when we’ve promised something. So just the mere act of promising out loud what we want to accomplish during a working week drives most of us to make an effort. No one wants to give excuses, at least not every week. Transparency and the freedom of choice combined with meaningful rewarding creates a proper positive pressure to get your weekly tasks done.

The second part of the blog post will be published on week 36.