What is Gamification?

Gamification is the process of adding game-like elements such as rewards or points to motivate the employee/worker. This can improve their efficiency and their output of work at a higher standard. Monetary rewards may be effective however it can’t always be efficacious for some. Non-monetary rewards can be useful as a gesture to give an incentive for an individual, motivating them further. Gamification techniques are intended to leverage people’s natural desires for socialising, learning, competition or achievement. There are several successful outcomes using Gamification methods.

Types of rewards using Gamification:

Points
Money
Badges
Levels
Filling of a progress bar
Virtual Currency

Gamification is increasingly being used for companies. Over 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies surveyed in 2013 they planned to use Gamification for the purposes of marketing. Gamification has also been used for customer engagement and to encourage popular website usage behaviour. Gamification is applicable to increasing engagement on sites that are built on social network services. In addition, Gamification has been used as ideation games. Ideation games have helped people generate better ideas between each other.

Gamification has been used to improve the productivity of employees, healthcare, financial services, transportation, the government, education and more. As mentioned, Gamification is widely used among many fields of work.

Adhityan K V

June 27, 2018 . 0 Comments

Performance Management Systems – an Overhaul

Companies are experiencing a growing demand to examine their current performance management systems, analyse the loopholes and recreate a new system. This growing demand has emerged from the realization that despite the number of man hours and the review feedbacks which go into building and executing a performance management system, it is not yielding the results with the effectiveness that it should.

What is it about the conventional performance management systems that is not producing the desired results? Consider the two scenarios below:

Scenario A

Students are enrolled in a school which uses a single dimensional approach to evaluation. While the faculty provides unorganized random feedback to students over class assignments to encourage improvements, the student’s grade, promotion and reward all depend upon an end-of-the-year exam in a given subject.

Scenario B

Students are enrolled in a school which uses a multi-dimensional approach to evaluation based on regular assignments, class participation, practical projects and experiments and points are accordingly distributed across the various levers of evaluation. The end-of the year exam constitutes 50% of the evaluation grade.

Clearly students under Scenario A have that one day to prove their interest, participation and expertise in a given subject. Therefore, the day of the exam becomes fortuitous and it does not have room for mistakes or unforeseen circumstances. Whereas students under Scenario B have a wider palette to play with and display their strengths in a given subject across different evaluation levers – if the student fails or performs poorly in one assignment, he can work on the received feedback and work on the next project and pull up.

The two scenarios are simple, yet a logical parallel may be drawn to the present performance management systems in many companies. Similar to Scenario A, systems which set employee targets at the beginning of the year, rate people under every project and culminate all the rankings of projects under one end-of-year appraisal, a system which provides a very singular approach to evaluation. In fact, a survey conducted by Deloitte Services found that 58% of executives felt that the system wasn’t driving performance and engagement as it was meant to. The survey further revealed that that the inconsistency and skills rating from one reviewer to another – a comprehensive study later showed that ratings were a reflection more of the reviewer than the reviewed. This made them question the value of rating altogether. (Reinventing Performance Management, HBR.org)

Other companies like GE abolished their ‘rank and yank system’ which ranked employees relative to their peers and resulted in the lowest percentile being fired, almost ten years back but recently also got done away with the ‘whether to fire or not’ evaluation meetings between managers and employees. Eli Lilly has put in place systems which creates room for empowerment and offers voice to the employees. Adobe has aggressively implemented its practice of regular feedbacks and checking-in on employees. Accenture has created an internal application to assist in relaying feedback within the organization. And, finally Google which has always emphasized the importance of coaching has followed a strict model of development over evaluation.

The new wave of performance management system involves three basic components: (i) Understanding the performance of employees in a clearer, more tangible and frequent manner; and (ii) with a clearer picture of employee performance metrics, drawing a plan towards skill development and improvement; and (iii) reward performance accordingly

How do the companies implement the above?

    • Understand performance
      Companies have found that performance can be understood more clearly when it comes from the immediate team leader rather than the head of the pyramid manager, who may in most cases be disconnected with ground reality. For example, Deloitte has stopped asking feedback on skills altogether – instead reviewers are asked their own feelings and intention towards the employee: What would you do with them instead of What do you think of them – Deloitte does this by asking team leaders respond to 4 future focussed statements:
    • I would award the person the highest possible increase and bonus – this captures the overall performance view and value
    • I would always want this person on my team – this gets out at teamwork capabilities of the employee
    • This person is at risk for low performance
    • This person is ready for promotion today

The responses provide a snapshot of the performance of the employee at a certain point in time. Each snapshot is weighted according to the project’s duration.

  • Improve Performance
    Frequent conversations between the team leaders and the team members and weekly meetings which evaluate and assess the performance of employees, creating room for constructive feedback has led to performance improvement on a more week to week basis.
  • Reward performance
    Finally, with a clearer understanding of performance on a more dynamic basis and encouraging skill development though coaching and constant feedback, it is easier for companies to reward employees. In turn, employees who are now more actively involved in their own assessment and development, see the whole process as a fairer and more sustainable process.

Adhityan K V

May 1, 2018 . 0 Comments

What is wrong with the traditional performance management systems?

Traditionally performance management has been a data intensive exercise, both for the evaluators as well as the evaluated. Performance data is calculated at the end of the cycle (monthly/ quarterly/ bi-yearly) to assess the back-ward looking performance of an individual. There are no measures to engage the employee with his performance at an early stage (in between the cycle) and to motivate him for performing against his weak areas. A traditional performance management system hence becomes a boring report generation system for the employees. 

GameChange Solutions is disrupting the landscape of traditional performance management by engaging the users in their own performance metrics and fun-based learning games. GameChange Solution’s gamified performance management solution – BitNudge acts as a motivation and engagement platform for the employees. 

The invention is aimed at improving employee productivity / performance and engagement at the workplace. BitNudge is designed with the belief that greater the employee motivation at the workplace the higher would be the performance and engagement levels. The closest use case of BitNudge is in Sales and Operations function where BitNudge can be deployed to improve frontline productivity or back/ middle office efficiency.

Unlike the conventional performance management system, BitNudge records inputs as well as outputs of the users. In other words, BitNudge focuses on both the “How” as well as the “How much” while calculating the performance of the users. Traditional performance management systems follow a “one-size-fit-all” type solution for all of its users, while the Gamified performance management solution follows a segmented approach for the performance management of its users – different types of users are treated differently on the gamified system to help them achieve their own inflection points.

Traditional performance management systems are typically designed keeping the manager in mind. They provide a comprehensive and detailed dashboard for managers to view the performance of their reportees. However similar dashboards do not add value for the frontline employees. The gamified performance management system is designed as an agent information system – it provides high frequency updates like point scores, ranks, badges, levels to the players which keep them engaged in their own performance.

Traditional performance management methodology has a binary state of play for its users. The users work for a two-state output in a traditional PMS – qualified for earning incentives OR not qualified for incentives. The user stops working for the sales cycle as soon as he assesses that he is not going to qualify for the incentives in that cycle and carries forward the business (leads) to the next sales cycle to maximize his probability to earn incentives in the next cycle. This leads to a delay in the sales as well as service of the customer on Bank’s behalf. A gamification system checks this behaviour among the users by creating multiple states of play. There are multiple interim statuses that are assigned to the user based on his past performance (rewarding consistency). The user in a gamified system is also motivated to maintain his status and hence maintains his consistent performance across the sales cycles. 

Overall feedbacks are not captured in the traditional performance management system. Largely the feedback is a one-way monologue (from manager to reportee) depending upon the backward-looking analysis of the employee performance. Also, there is no reporting and analytics on the activities performed/ time spent by the resources in learning and capability building. A gamified system features an overall (360 degree) feedback, which covers the feedback from all managers, peers as well as the social graph of the user. Gamified system also provides predictive and prescriptive analytics for the employees. Fun based learning systems are also a part of BitNudge.

Adhityan K V

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Success mantra for Gamification

Gamification, is not a technology product but is a methodology, a way to develop desired engagement among its users and to solve problems. Gamification is a behavioural design trend that is applied to motivate the actions and behaviour of a user through game elements in non-game context. Gamification requires understanding of Player Psychology, Human behaviour and desires, Culture, Marketing, and Economics etc for effective design.

From a psychology point of view, Gamification requires creation and development of a mental state among the user which generates intrinsic motivation. In this state the player is engaged with the activity, without any external disturbances and limitations, to achieve better results than others and to improve his/her performance as compared to his/her historical performance. It is important that the challenge that the player is facing to enter the state matches player’s ability (or perceived ability), if there is a huge misalignment between the challenge and ability then the player feels demotivated or get bored of the challenge. If the challenge is too easy the players easily get bored and if the competition is very challenging then the players start losing interest in the challenge, because they feel that the objective is not achievable. It is very important to keep the game-challenge under the control state of the players. The TED Talk. by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains Flow – the control state of the player, as a secret to player satisfaction.

Players often fail to realize that their skills and ability to perform an action is not stationary. Humans are programmed to learn from the feedback they get from challenges and incorporate the feedback to improve their ability. Most of the game players are often engaged with challenges that are comfortable according to their ability levels. As soon as the player starts getting bored at that level they are given incremental challenge, proportional to their ability acquired. Now the player starts engaging with the new challenge with improved ability. At the new challenge level, the learning curve of the player defines the duration after which a new challenge will be thrown at the user. If the player has a steep learning curve, he is posed a new challenge faster and if the learning curve is shallow, or if the player takes time to learn the new skills, then the new challenge for the player is delayed. 

The video-game industry has pioneered the player psychology and have implemented the game elements for making games engaging and addictive. Try to analyse the game elements used in games like Temple run – running around an old temple from the monsters or Need for Speed – driving cars through streets with precision, or Candy crush – identifying patterns and crushing candies. All the games employ this basic principle – start with a basic ability level and gradually increase the difficult level in the game. The player identifies a comfortable game-level according to his ability and then learns the nuance of the game by repeatedly doing the same set of activities at that level. After the player ability has improved he advances to a new level and so on. Imagine the complexity of the advanced levels in some of the games that we play in our day-to-day life – Candy Crush, Angry birds etc.

It is almost impossible for a player to complete these levels without learning the basic techniques from the previous stages. Gamification leverages the capability of the players to engage in such type of self-improvising systems through positive reinforcements without putting a conscious effort at skill building and utilizes this to solve complex looking problems in non-game context. 

Gamification designers are controllers who control the challenges, competition faced by a player in the system. The following Gamification framework illustrates the use of game elements at different stages of the player journey. For achieving a continuous improvement in human behaviour and habit formation Gamification motivates the player according to his perceived ability and conducts positive interventions / triggers for nudging the player to perform better and better. Gamification organizes the game elements in the order of their increasing feedback cycle. i.e. at the start, the Gamification system starts giving points to the players for every action –

  • Points – are the granular building blocks of the Gamified system and have very small feedback loop. The player is awarded points as soon as the required activity is performed and collection of points can be viewed as a score

Once the player starts accumulating considerable amount if points they are assigned various levels / badges according to their score.

  • Level / Badges – are the qualifiers for a player into a league of peers who are performing better. At an informal level it also provides players with social bragging rights among the peers and motivates players to perform better

The players are provided with a ranking among other peers through leader boards, highlighting their position among the peers.

  • Leader boards – are the rank tables which depict the performance of a player against his peers. The key here is to generate various leader boards across various dimensions and highlight the dimensions in which an individual player is performing well and provide actionable feedback that how can he / she do better in other dimensions with development need

Other elements which are also used in Gamified systems are –

  • Trophies for past performance / continuous performance – Players historical performance as well as consistent performance is celebrated through trophies.
  • Special recognition for improvement in the rank – Not only the top performers, but the top gainers in performance are recognized.
  • Ranking of the group that the player belongs to in the case of a team / group formation – Creates an atmosphere of collaboration to achieve the group target and improving the productivity of the group.

All of these game elements are ranked according to the feedback cycle of these elements and are placed in a game scenario in order to create maximum engagement of the player in the game. These game elements boost the motivation level of the player and prevents the player from getting disinterested in the game.

Adhityan K V

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Powerful People React More Unethically to Incentives

Incentives are a potent tool for shaping human behaviour, but they’re famously tricky to get right. New research,. published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology, has uncovered an alarming wrinkle that complicates incentives even more: they may make powerful people less ethical. 

The study, led by Jessica Swanner at Iowa State University and Denise Beike at the University of Arkansas, involved 250 undergraduates at the University of Texas at El Paso. The researchers set up a scenario in which students were asked to inform on a fellow student who had confided in them. 

Students were told they would be given course credit to participate in computer tests on unconscious memory. When they arrived for the study, however, a researcher told them that a previous student had crashed the computer, so instead they would be participating in a study on interpersonal interactions and decision making. Each student was paired with a participant who was secretly a confederate of the researchers. The pairs discussed a series of personal questions, culminating with the confederate either admitting to or strongly denying crashing the computer. 

Next, the researchers randomly assigned each student to a boss (high-power) or employee (low-power) role for the next task. But before the task started, a researcher individually asked students for their help in figuring out who crashed the computer. The researcher offered additional course credit to half of the students for their assistance. (The other half, constituting the control group, wasn’t offered anything.) The researcher then asked the student whether their partner mentioned crashing the computer, prompting the student up to eight times to turn in their partner. 

If the student said yes — regardless of what the confederate actually said — they were asked to sign a statement testifying that their partner crashed the computer. The researcher noted how many prompts were needed before the student signed the statement, as well as whether the student tried to change the terms of the agreement or the wording of the statement. Later, the students were quizzed on what exactly the confederate said, the incentive the researcher offered, and how confident they felt about remembering the details of each. 

For most combinations of factors (high-power or low-power role, partner confession or not, incentive or not), the researchers found that offering an incentive had almost zero effect on whether the student turned in their partner. All students, both high-power and low-power, were much more likely to sign a true incriminating statement than a false one. In other words, everyone was more likely to say the confederate had admitted to crashing the computer when the confederate had actually admitted to it. But high-power students were three times more likely to sign a false incriminating statement when they were offered an incentive.

High-power students who were offered an incentive also stood out when it came to the number of prompts. All students were prompted up to eight times to turn in their partner (for example, “Are you sure they didn’t mention anything about crashing the computer?”). When the confederate had admitted to crashing the computer, all students became increasingly likely to turn in their partner for the first five of the prompts, after which additional prompts had no effect. But when the confederate had denied crashing the computer, high-power incentivized students became more likely to turn in their partner the more they were prompted to do it; everyone else levelled off after four prompts.

This study isn’t the first one to show that power causes people to focus more on their own rewards than on others’ well-being. Although an incentive may be intended to encourage proper behaviour, it may instead make a powerful person do whatever is necessary to secure the reward. 

The study’s findings are significant for the business world, where powerful people can have a huge effect on the careers and day-to-day work of those beneath them, but the implications go much further. The paper mentions two examples of incentives gone very awry: First, in 1994, Kenneth Wyniemko was wrongfully convicted of criminal sexual misconduct, breaking and entering, and armed robbery. He was sentenced to 40–60 years in prison despite the victim saying she had little opportunity to view her assailant. Among the evidence against him was a fellow inmate’s incriminating testimony, provided in order to avoid a life sentence. Second, in 2014, the mayor of Edmundson, Missouri, told the local police that their salaries would be increased according to the number of traffic tickets they wrote. The police department was later accused of making false citations in record numbers, especially against African-American citizens. 

The researchers point out that incentives are not inherently harmful; problems tend to arise when the behaviours that are incentivized pit powerful people against weaker ones. One way to counteract how incentives can corrupt may be to incentivize cooperative behaviours, such as employee satisfaction or retention. Keeping in mind how incentives can affect people’s behaviour, in good ways and bad ways, can help us use incentives more effectively — and fairly.

This article was originally published in HBR.

Adhityan K V

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Does Money Really Affect Motivation?

How much should people earn? Even if resources were unlimited, it would be difficult to stipulate your ideal salary. Intuitively, one would think that higher pay should produce better results, but scientific evidence indicates that the link between compensation, motivation and performance is much more complex. In fact, research suggests that even if we let people decide how much they should earn, they would probably not enjoy their job more. 

Even those who highlight the motivational effects of money accept that pay alone is not sufficient. The basic questions are: Does money make our jobs more enjoyable? Or can higher salaries actually demotivate us?

Let’s start with the first: does money engage us? The most compelling answer to this question is a meta-analysis by Tim Judge and colleagues . The authors reviewed 120 years of research to synthesize the findings from 92 quantitative studies. The combined dataset included over 15,000 individuals and 115 correlation coefficients.

The results indicate that the association between salary and job satisfaction is very weak. The reported correlation (r = .14) indicates that there is less than 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction levels. Furthermore, the correlation between pay and pay satisfaction was only marginally higher (r = .22 or 4.8% overlap), indicating that people’s satisfaction with their salary is mostly independent of their actual salary.

In addition, a cross-cultural comparison revealed that the relationship of pay with both job and pay satisfaction is pretty much the same everywhere (for example, there are no significant differences between the U.S., India, Australia, Britain, and Taiwan). 

A similar pattern of results emerged when the authors carried out group-level (or between-sample) comparisons. In their words: “Employees earning salaries in the top half of our data range reported similar levels of job satisfaction to those employees earning salaries in the bottom-half of our data range” (p.162). This is consistent with Gallup’s engagement research, which reports no significant difference in employee engagement by pay level. Gallup’s findings are based on 1.4 million employees from 192 organizations across 49 industries and 34 nations.

These results have important implications for management: if we want an engaged workforce, money is clearly not the answer. In fact, if we want employees to be happy with their pay, money is not the answer. In a nutshell: money does not buy engagement.

But that doesn’t answer the question: does money actually demotivate? Some have argued it does, that there is a natural tension between extrinsic and intrinsic motives, and that financial rewards can ultimately depress or “crowd out” intrinsic goals (e.g., enjoyment, sheer curiosity, learning or personal challenge). 

Despite the overwhelming number of laboratory experiments carried out to evaluate this argument — known as the over justification effect — there is still no consensus about the degree to which higher pay may demotivate. However, two articles deserve particular consideration. 

The first is a classic meta-analysis by Edward Deci and colleagues. The authors synthesized the results from 128 controlled experiments. The results highlighted consistent negative effects of incentives — from marshmallows to dollars — on intrinsic motivation. These effects were particularly strong when the tasks were interesting or enjoyable rather than boring or meaningless.

More specifically, for every standard deviation increase in reward, intrinsic motivation for interesting tasks decreases by about 25%. When rewards are tangible and foreseeable (if subjects know in advance how much extra money they will receive) intrinsic motivation decreases by 36%. (Importantly, some have argued that for uninteresting tasks extrinsic rewards — like money — actually increase motivation. See, for instance, a meta-analysis by Judy Cameron and colleagues.) Deci et al’s conclusion was that “strategies that focus primarily on the use of extrinsic rewards do, indeed, run a serious risk of diminishing rather than promoting intrinsic motivation” (p. 659). 

The second article is a recent study by Yoon Jik Cho and James Perry. The authors analysed real-world data from a representative sample of over 200,000 U.S. public sector employees. The results showed that employee engagement levels were three times more strongly related to intrinsic than extrinsic motives, but that both motives tend to cancel each other out. In other words, when employees have little interest in external rewards, their intrinsic motivation has a substantial positive effect on their engagement levels. However, when employees are focused on external rewards, the effects of intrinsic motives on engagement are significantly diminished. This means that employees who are intrinsically motivated are three times more engaged than employees who are extrinsically motivated (such as by money). Quite simply, you’re more likely to like your job if you focus on the work itself, and less likely to enjoy it if you’re focused on money. This finding was true even at low salary levels (remember, as per Gallup and Judge et al, there’s no correlation between engagement and salary levels). Now, a sceptic might ask if this is just a correlation showing that people who don’t like their jobs have nothing to think about other than the money. This is hard to test. Yes, that could be one reason; another could be that people who focus too much on money are preventing themselves from enjoying their jobs. 

This research also begs the question: Is this a money-focused, engagement-eroding mindset one that employees can change? Or does it reflect an innate mindset — some people happen to be more focused on extrinsic rewards, while others are more focused on the task itself? We don’t know. But my guess is that which you’re focused on depends mostly on the match between your interests and skills and the tasks you’ve been given. And in theory, your mindset should be malleable — the brain is remarkably plastic. We can try to teach people that if they focus on the task itself and try to identify positive aspects of the process, they will enjoy it more than if they are just focused on the consequences (rewards) of performing the task. The analogy here is that it’s much more motivating to go for a run because it’s fun than because I must get fit or lose some weight.

Intrinsic motivation is also a stronger predictor of job performance than extrinsic motivation — so it is feasible to expect higher financial rewards to inhibit not only intrinsic motivation, but also job performance. The more people focus on their salaries, the less they will focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.

The fact that there is little evidence to show that money motivates us, and a great deal of evidence to suggest that it actually demotivates us, supports the idea that that there may be hidden costs associated with rewards. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should work for free. We all need to pay our bills and provide for our families — but once these basic needs are covered the psychological benefits of money are questionable. In a widely cited paper, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton reported that, in the U.S., emotional well-being levels increase with salary levels up to a salary of $75,000 — but that they plateau afterwards. Or, as Arnold Schwarzenegger once stated: “Money doesn’t make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.” 

But one size does not fit all. Our relationship to money is highly idiosyncratic. Indeed, in the era of personalization, when most things can now be customized to fit our needs — from social media feeds to potential dates, to online shopping displays and playlists — it is somewhat surprising that compensation systems are still based on the premise that what works for some people will also work for everyone else.

Other than its functional exchange value, pay is a psychological symbol, and the meaning of money is largely subjective. For example, there are marked individual differences in people’s tendency to think or worry about money, and different people value money for different reasons (e.g., as a means to power, freedom, security, or love). If companies want to motivate their workforce, they need to understand what their employees really value — and the answer is bound differ for each individual. Research shows that different values are differentially linked to engagement. For example, income goals based on the pursuit of power, narcissism, or overcoming self-doubt are less rewarding and effective than income goals based on the pursuit of security, family support, and leisure time. Perhaps it is time to compensate people not only according to what they know or do, but also for what they want. 

Finally, other research shows that employees’ personalities are much better predictors of engagement than their salaries. The most compelling study in this area is a large meta-analytic review of 25,000 participants, where personality determined 40% of the variability in ratings of job satisfaction. The more emotionally stable, extraverted, agreeable or conscientious people are, the more they tend to like their jobs (irrespective of their salaries). But the personality of employees’ is not the most important determinant of their engagement levels. In fact, the biggest organizational cause of disengagement is incompetent leadership. Thus, as a manager, it’s your personality that will have a significant impact on whether your employees are engaged at work, or not.
This article was originally published in HBR.

Adhityan K V

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What motivates us at work more than money?

“When we think about how people work, the naïve intuition we have is that people are like rats in a maze,” says behavioural economist Dan Ariely (TED Talk: What makes us feel good about our work? ) “ We really have this incredibly simplistic view of why people work and what the labour market looks like.”

Instead, when you look carefully at the way people work, he says, you find out there’s a lot more at play — and at stake — than money. Ariely provides evidence that we are also driven by the meaningfulness of our work, by others’ acknowledgement — and by the amount of effort we’ve put in: the harder the task is, the prouder we are.

“When we think about labour, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it: meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc.,” Ariely says.

Below, take a look at some of Ariely’s other studies, as well as a few from other researchers, with interesting implications for what makes us feel good about our work.

  • Seeing the fruits of our labour may make us more productive
    • The Study: In Man’s search for meaning: The case of Legos, Ariely asked participants to build characters from Lego’s Bionicles series. In both conditions, participants were paid decreasing amounts for each subsequent Bionicle: $3 for the first one, $2.70 for the next one, and so on. But while one group’s creations were stored under the table, to be disassembled at the end of the experiment, the other group’s Bionicles were disassembled as soon as they’d been built. “This was an endless cycle of them building and us destroying in front of their eyes,” Ariely says.
    • The Results: The first group made 11 Bionicles, on average, while the second group made only seven before they quit.
    • The Upshot: Even though there wasn’t huge meaning at stake, and even though the first group knew their work would be destroyed at the end of the experiment, seeing the results of their labour for even a short time was enough to dramatically improve performance.
  • The less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do it
    • The Study: Ariely gave study participants — students at MIT — a piece of paper filled with random letters, and asked them to find pairs of identical letters. Each round, they were offered less money than the previous round. People in the first group wrote their names on their sheets and handed them to the experimenter, who looked it over and said “Uh huh” before putting it in a pile. People in the second group didn’t write down their names, and the experimenter put their sheets in a pile without looking at them. People in the third group had their work shredded immediately upon completion.
    • The Results: People whose work was shredded needed twice as much money as those whose work was acknowledged in order to keep doing the task. People in the second group, whose work was saved but ignored, needed almost as much money as those whose work was shredded.
    • The Upshot: “Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort before their eyes,” Ariely says. “The good news is that adding motivation doesn’t seem to be so difficult. The bad news is that eliminating motivation seems to be incredibly easy, and if we don’t think about it carefully, we might overdo it.”
  • The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it
    • The Study: In another study, Ariely gave origami novices paper and instructions to build a (pretty ugly) form. Those who did the origami project, as well as bystanders, were asked at the end how much they’d pay for the product. In a second trial, Ariely hid the instructions from some participants, resulting in a harder process — and an uglier product.
    • The Results: In the first experiment, the builders paid five times as much as those who just evaluated the product. In the second experiment, the lack of instructions exaggerated this difference: builders valued the ugly-but-difficult products even more highly than the easier, prettier ones, while observers valued them even less.
    • The Upshot: Our valuation of our own work is directly tied to the effort we’ve expended. (Plus, we erroneously think that other people will ascribe the same value to our own work as we do.)
  • Knowing that our work helps others may increase our unconscious motivation
    • The Study: As described in a recent New York Times Magazine profile, psychologist Adam Grant led a study at a University of Michigan fundraising call centre in which students who had benefited from the centre’s scholarship fundraising efforts spoke to the callers for 10 minutes.
    • The Results: A month later, the callers were spending 142 percent more time on the phone than before, and revenues had increased by 171 percent, according to the Times. But the callers denied the scholarship students’ visit had impacted them.
    • The Upshot: “It was almost as if the good feelings had bypassed the callers’ conscious cognitive processes and gone straight to a more subconscious source of motivation,” the Times reports. “They were more driven to succeed, even if they could not pinpoint the trigger for that drive.”
  • The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules
    • The Study: Grant ran another study (also described in the Times profile) in which he put up signs at a hospital’s hand-washing stations, reading either “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases” or “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.”
    • The Results: Doctors and nurses used 45 percent more soap or hand sanitizer in the stations with signs that mentioned patients.
    • The Upshot: Helping others through what’s called “prosocial behaviour” motivates us.
  • Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance
    • The Study: Undergraduates at Harvard University gave speeches and did mock interviews with experimenters who were either nodding and smiling or shaking their heads, furrowing their eyebrows, and crossing their arms.
    • The Results: The participants in the first group later answered a series of numerical questions more accurately than those in the second group.
    • The Upshot: Stressful situations can be manageable — it all depends on how we feel. We find ourselves in a “challenge state” when we think we can handle the task (as the first group did); when we’re in a “threat state,” on the other hand, the difficulty of the task is overwhelming, and we become discouraged. We’re more motivated and perform better in a challenge state, when we have confidence in our abilities.
  • Images that trigger positive emotions may actually help us focus
    • The Study: Researchers at Hiroshima University had university students perform a dexterity task before and after looking at pictures of either baby or adult animals.
    • The Results: Performance improved in both cases, but more so (10 percent improvement!) when participants looked at cute pictures of puppies and kittens.
    • The Upshot: The researchers suggest that the “cuteness-triggered positive emotion” helps us narrow our focus, upping our performance on a task that requires close attention. Yes, this study may just validate your baby panda obsession.

Adhityan K V

February 1, 2018 . 0 Comments

Root cause of salesforce productivity problem

Employee engagement, employee learning and development and performance management are among the key challenges for an organization trying to improve its employee productivity. By developing sustainable solutions to these challenge the organization can improve its ability to perform in long run. These issues can be attributed to the following granular observations –

  • Performance variance among peers – High variability is observed in the performance of the resources at similar levels. The difference between the performance of best decile and worst decile is of the order of 20x among branch / POS based sales agents and about 200x among direct sales agents
  • Low SLA adherence / On-time follow-ups – No standard metric to track the SLA committed to the end – customer on behalf of the organization. No-show / non-timely follow-ups of the sales representative often results in customers diverting to other avenues for his requirement
  • No transparency in the pipeline at all levels – Currently there is limited to no transparency available about the pipeline across organization, which makes it difficult for the decision makers and stakeholders to take informed decisions and provide data-backed feedback to their repartees. The organization’s communication channel is broken and employees at lower level do not find themselves attached to the organizations goal, according to surveys

Current ways of improving the sales productivity includes investing in management information systems, setting up KPIs and awarding monetary incentives on the basis of individual’s achievement. There are also booster schemes of running special campaigns and incentive schemes for limited period of time which helps in achieving instant increment in the productivity. However all of these conventional techniques are unsustainable in longer run.

Through gamification, the workplace engagement levels are stimulated using a series of tools and techniques. For instance in order to improve performance, employee-level competitiveness is harnessed in a positive manner to ensure that competition stays friendly and generate positive increase in overall productivity. The rules of the ‘game’ offer employees a clear understanding of goals, metrics and behaviours that lead to achieving rewards and recognition. Achievements are broadcasted on private and public scoreboards thereby providing almost real time feedbacks to the employees. Employees are presented with in-game challenges and competitions based on the ability level of the employee, and the employees are required to perform incrementally better with increasing difficulty level. The employees are also enabled with resources for capability building, which the employees can leverage at any time and at his own pace based on his comfort level as opposed to classroom-based training.

Adhityan K V

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Gamification in sales

Sales is not the most engaging and rewarding function in an industry, in the eyes of the majority. Sales employees are given targets at the starting of the sales cycle and their performance is evaluated according to the outputs generated (sales closed successfully) at the end of the cycle. There is limited to no effort made towards engaging or motivating the employees throughout the sales cycles. As a result, sales trajectory of the employees at most organizations observes a hockey stick effect i.e. during the first and second quarter of the cycle there is limited output from the sales teams, while the third and the fourth quarter of the cycle are loaded with application submission from the sales employees. Such an approach of the sales employees often results in miss-selling of the products to the end-customers. The employee sells the products to the customer, without understanding the customer requirement properly, just to achieve the performance level to be eligible for incentives of the cycle. 

Following figure depicts the pattern of achievement of sales target in one cycle –

The key to solve this problem is to effectively engage employees on performance related topics – raise the motivation level of the employees to achieve interim objectives in small increments and provide them almost real time feedback. Senior managers should provide non-monetary rewards and recognitions to motivate the employees. Immediate managers and team leaders should celebrate the small wins of the sales teams frequently during huddles and through other internal communication channels. Product managers and designers should invest in latest tools and technologies like Gamification in order to provide engaging experience for its employees. According to a recent Gallup survey – organizations spend 1000 times lesser for engaging its own workforce as compared to engaging customers. The theoretical link between employee engagement and organization growth can be visualized through the following Engagement-Profit chain – 

But still there is little to no emphasis on improving the employee engagement at workplace. In this scenario, Gamification can be a very useful technique for engaging the employees in serious work at workplace. Gamification uses game elements and game design techniques to solve serious problems and develop desired behaviours among the employees at workplace. The key elements for developing player psychology using gamification is to provide right level of motivation according to the player’s perceived ability, coupled with actionable recommendations – triggers.

Fogg talks about such a model for behaviour change in his paper “A Behaviour model for Persuasive Design”. The paper provides a perspective of making effective behavioural changes by keeping the user sufficiently motivated, adjusting according to the user’s perceived ability, and introducing triggers to perform. These three elements also have subcomponents –

  • Motivation –  Pleasure / Pain, Hope / Fear, Social Acceptance / Rejection
  • Ability – Time, Money, Physical effort, brain cycles, social deviance, Non-routine
  • Trigger –Spark, Facilitators, Signals

Fogg in his paper asserts that these three factors – Motivation, Ability and Trigger – should occur at the same moment, otherwise the desired change in player psychology will not happen.

Gamification can be effective in implementing such a persuasive design. Motivating player’s behaviour and engaging player is at the core of Gamification. Gamification enables to track the motivation level of every user and quantify their perceived ability to complete a given task. With appropriate technology implementation the customer journey can be analysed on the technology platform and actionable insights or triggers can be provided to the player which will enhance the probability of the user to engage with the platform and enhance his ability in the desired dimension. Such activities performed repeatedly over time will elevate the overall productivity level of the game players (employees of the organization). The magic happens when a significant section of the employee improves their perceived ability (read: productivity), and that when the overall organization becomes more productive with a closely connected and engaged workforce.

Adhityan K V

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Why improve employee engagement?

In today’s modern world, where an individual’s creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are required in their job, it is very important to keep the employee engaged and motivated at all times. This contrasts with most of the previous ways of employment, where the employees were told what to do and the employees were required to perform the task as per the instructions. At these times where the requirement for the employees to be engaged is at all-time high, the engagement survey from Gallup shows an opposite story.

According to the Gallup’s employee engagement survey conducted in 2013, only 13% of the workforce is actively engaged at workplace. Engagement is defined as – the employees are engaged if they are psychologically aligned with the organization goals and are willing to make positive contribution towards the goal. Worst of all 24% of the employees are actively disengaged, which means that they are not satisfied, unproductive and do not respond to the existing methods of productivity improvement, which involves traditional Performance management systems, incentives, traditional classroom-based trainings etc. 

Games on the other hand enjoy a huge level of participation and fan fallowing among its users. Video games are becoming increasingly complex, detailed, and compelling to a growing audience of players. With better graphics, more realistic characters, and greater strategic challenges, it’s not surprising that players would rather play the latest video game than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch television. According to the recent Reuter’s survey, ESA, TED / Jane McGonigal and other sources –

  • Online revenue, including digital delivery, subscriptions, Facebook games: $24 billion, up from $21 billion in 2012
  • Activision Blizzard Annual revenue: $4.99 billion Top franchises: “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft”
  • China: 34% increase in games revenue (2012), 30 years is the average age of players, 45% of the gamers are female
  • 3 billion hours per week playing video games in the planet

Owing to this stark contrast of engagement between games and workplace, Gamification provides a way to efficiently engage employees at workplace using game elements which have proven to be engaging and often addictive. Gamification is not only about playful activities. Though video games and Gamification employs game mechanics at their core but they both have very different objectives.

Owing to this stark contrast of engagement between games and workplace, Gamification provides a way to efficiently engage employees at workplace using game elements which have proven to be engaging and often addictive. Gamification is not only about playful activities. Though video games and Gamification employs game mechanics at their core but they both have very different objectives. 

Gamification engages players on an emotional level, motivates them through intrinsic and extrinsic motivators to change behaviours sustainably, develops skills and drives innovation. Following are some of the areas where Gamification can be implemented at work to improve engagement.

  • Repetitive and meticulous tasks – Gamification provides a way to incentivize and celebrate small victories in day to day life of the employees, who perform repetitive tasks which are otherwise boring. Due to the nature of these tasks any mistake of the employee creates rework which is the worst form of waste in any lean and efficient process
  • Feedback and recognition – Employees are encouraged to submit feedback of the performance of other employees as well as to recognize the performance of peers going beyond their job description on a Gamified platform. This creates an environment of motivation among the employees at workplace
  • Learning at work – As the products keep on getting complex the employees are required to keep in pace with the knowledge of the products, about the knowledge of the market as well as about the knowledge of new processes introduced at workplace. There is limited to no self-motivation for an employee to keep himself up-to-date with the latest information. Gamification can also engage employees in consuming this new information in a gamified way

Adhityan K V

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Gamification at work

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”grid” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” z_index=””][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”1829″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_column_text]“In every job, that must be done, there is an element of fun you find and snap! The job’s a game” – A Spoonful of Sugar

Gamification is a tool to encourage people to change their behaviour by positive re-enforcements. While doing so, the Gamification technique uses game design concepts like providing opportunities to earn points, developing a constant sense of challenges, presenting an opportunity to improve the user behaviour and recommending user actions to achieve the next level and so on. Gamification has been successfully implemented in multiple situations to drive the desired behaviour from the audience. Some examples from day to day life are -[/vc_column_text][unordered_list style=”circle” animate=”no”]

  • Speed camera lottery – In this system users were asked to obey the speed limit on roads. Users were thrilled at the idea that riding according to the speed limit or lower makes them eligible to enter a lottery and can potentially earn them money. The over speeding riders were fined, and a portion of the fine was collected in the lottery pot which was distributed among the riders who obeyed the speed laws. This experiment observed a reduction in average speed of about 22%, from average speed of 32 Km/h the reduced speed was about 25km/h
  • Driving efficiency indicators – In this system the drivers are prompted to change their normal driving behaviour and switch to more fuel-efficient driving. New cars, especially hybrid cars, are equipped with sensors to sense the efficiency of driving in terms of fuel saved. Drivers compete with each other in terms of maximum distance they can drive on their cars with one gallon of fuel and hence try consciously to be fuel efficient. Companies like Nissan, Toyota, Honda and many more are rolling out these features inbuilt into the console of their new generation cars to promote fuel efficiency
  • Fitness applications – Normal healthy habits of walking, jogging, running or even playing individual sports are gamified through fitness applications. These solutions have created a game of fitness around the day-to-day activities performed by the players. Various individuals having different lifestyles can also compete with each other on the basis of these common currency – points that they earn on the basis of their individual goal fulfilment. Some leading examples in this area are Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, Apple watch and many more

[/unordered_list][vc_column_text]Most of the organizations believe that Gamification cannot be applied to their work, because their work is very complex and serious is nature. They assume that work and play are opposites of each other. However, research does not support this assumption. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play explains that the opposite of work is depression and NOT play in his TED Talk. .

The concept of gamification is to bring the level of engagement that users display in games, to serious work. This does not mean that the users will be shooting arrows at birds or riding a car across the town on their computer screen. The key elements of game design which create the addiction in games are built around the work environment to generate the spirit of positive enthusiasm among the employees. The employees will get more engaged with their routine day to day work, start competing with the peers on the basis of performance and generate overall better results.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1573544308128{margin-left: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Adhityan K V

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