Working efficiently as a team on-site is hard, let alone distributed teams. The communication/collaboration challenges they usually face can be quite stressful. And, while choosing the right team chat app can fix most of the communication issues, workplace productivity can still be a lifelong battle.
What if I tell you there is a way to make your team even more productive and teamwork — even more fun?
How, you ask? The answer is gamification.
When used properly, it can help you bring your team members together and motivate them to achieve more while keeping the atmosphere at work friendly and positive.
Here are some practical ideas on how to boost your team’s performance with the help of gamification.
5 ways to boost your team productivity using gamification
1. Build the team
Admit it: a close-knit team is a productive team. So, if you want to improve your team’s productivity, start with establishing a healthy and friendly atmosphere in your office. Make it a part of your corporate culture.
Talking about gamification and games in general, we all know how important team building can be. Yet, be careful and choose your activities wisely. Forget about trust falls and truth trains! There are literally dozens of fun team building activities that actually work (and aren’t awkward or embarrassing).
To make it work, apply this strategy to smaller groups, for example:
- company departments (marketing, sales, support, IT, etc.)
- project teams (people from different departments working together to complete a certain task)
- people working as one shift (as in case of 24/7 customer support)
2. Set the rules
First of all, create a transparent and fair system of scores and levels to keep all of your team members on the same page throughout the process.
Set milestones and make clear what the team has to do to reach them. You hit a milestone — you level up. If you miss a deadline, you lose points and have to start all over.
Break up a large project or goal into a sequence of smaller, manageable tasks which are easier to track and assess. By accomplishing smaller tasks within one milestone, you get extra points that add up to your individual experience and can be traded for real-life bonuses or perks, e.g. custom stickers or cool office supplies, coupons from local businesses, etc.
3. Track the progress
To provide real-time, clear feedback on every action, at every stage of the process, create a unified team leaderboard. This will help you establish accountability and increase transparency within your competition process.
However, make it all about achievements and progress — don’t turn your leaderboard into a wall of shame. Negative reinforcement is perfectly fine but there’s a line you shouldn’t cross if you don’t want to turn friendly competition into a conflict within your team.
Keep track of both individual and team scores to see the bigger picture of how they perform.
4. Reward the effort
Using a leaderboard is a great way to keep track of your team’s productivity. As a result, you can establish a system of badges to recognize and reward high-performers and introduce penalties to “punish” the laggards (something small and lighthearted not to spur feud among your teammates).
For example, you can reward all of your team members for their hard work by offering free movie tickets once in a while. Yet, the team/people with the highest rank in your leaderboard get to choose the movie while the underperformers have to buy popcorn for everyone.
If we are talking about intermediate milestones and individual performance, think of something smaller as penalties, e.g. make 20 push-ups, read a work-related book, quit coffee for a day, etc.
5. Motivate the underperformers
When rewarding and celebrating your most efficient team members, don’t let the rest of the team feel left out or discouraged. Remember: sticks simply don’t work without the carrots, and penalties alone won’t motivate your employees to work better.
Try to see and recognize small achievements even with the least productive team members. For example, when tracking individual performance of each team member you can see even the slightest improvement over time. Isn’t it a good reason to reward the person’s effort?
Aside from that, you can make your overachievers team up with the laggards and work on some tasks together.
How to make gamification work for you?
Gamification is easy: you split into teams and get points as you finish the tasks and complete milestones, you keep the score and reward the winners once in a while.
But does it work this way in real life? It takes time and effort to set up a well-oiled process and get everyone to participate. After all, there’s always a human factor when working as a team.
To make sure your gamification really works, consider the following:
- Gather your team’s support
Gamification can’t be a one-man show. Make sure all of your team members are down to give it a try and won’t sabotage your efforts. Don’t force it.
To avoid backlash down the road, invite your team to have their say in the process and help you set the rules.
- Pay attention to the details
The devil is indeed in the details. So, if you expect your team to finish a project by the end of the month, don’t boss around demanding the work to be done. Instead, cheer them up and play along.
Start with the language you use: replace boring milestones, objectives and KPIs with the corresponding game slang words, e.g. quest, mission, experience point (XP), etc.
- Arm yourself with proper tools
Keeping scores and maintaining a physical leaderboard doesn’t sound that fun after all. To streamline your gamification efforts (and take the human factor out of it), consider using specialized software tools.
To start with, explore gamification opportunities with the tools you are currently using. For example, Todoist Karma motivates users to stay productive by rewarding them with karma points for each completed task.
Using open source software like Keep The Score, you can also create and keep your scoreboard online. On top of that, there are lots of other gamification tools on the market (especially for salespeople), such as Spinify, SalesKick, Hoopla, etc.
From sales and marketing to human resources and customer support, gamification can be applied to almost every area of your business. And there are many reasons why companies including Google, Microsoft and Deloitte are choosing to gamify specific aspects of their operations.
Gamification makes a workplace (as well as work itself) more enjoyable and fun, while boosting your team’s productivity and morale.
Of course, it’s no silver bullet. It all depends on your team, you as a leader and the actual implementation of the tactics mentioned above. However, it is definitely worth a try if you are looking for a way to improve your team’s performance.
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