Ethel Merman thought people should lighten up to really live, crooning these lyrics in 1931:
"Life is just a bowl of cherries: don't take it serious, it's too mysterious . . .
Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all!"
Is life all fun and games? Definitely not.
But leadership experts are finding that one of the best ways to train people is by helping them laugh and compete as they learn through play.
United States... Gaming?
Recently, the US Army employed "serious gaming" to address challenges in their leadership training.
While soldiers were very capable in weapons and war strategies, the Army found its forces need to grow in their soft skills by increasing familiarity with the values, norms, and cultures where they were deployed.
First Person Cultural Trainer, a gaming simulation, was developed specifically to help junior leaders understand the consequences of their speech, body language, temperaments, and choices. Trainees used a 3D avatar to interact and work with individuals in a foreign community and to gain feedback on how their choices affected their ability to build rapport. Students progressed through four levels of gaming to build communication, interpersonal, and intelligence gathering skills.
Games for the Win
Advances in game-training strategies have steered many organizations toward a more recreational focus in their corporate cultures.
Games and stories are a fundamental part of human life: according to one study done by Essential Facts, in 2016 more than 60% of households in America had someone playing video games regularly. Humans excel in games because we love reward-based challenges, especially when objectives become progressively harder or more addictive!
To embed gaming in their corporate training culture Cisco used a "LiveOps" call center to challenge competing agents, ultimately reducing call time by 15% and improving sales by an average of 10%.
A Colorado restaurant gamified its objective to increase sales of specific menu items. When they sold a 4-pack of cinnamon rolls, staff could play online "point-yielding games," and reward points were redeemable for a branded debit card. One study estimated this restaurant realized a 66.2% ROI due to the increase in sales productivity.
Why do games work? Game training is effective because it:
- Motivates employees to surpass expectations or to complete training exercises
- Allows people to fail and try again without negative repercussions
- Makes time for real-time reflection and feedback sessions
- Grows individual confidence in carrying out tasks (as people practice, break challenges into micro-learning segments, and accurately perceive their ability to succeed)
Game Options of Your Own
Want to improve productivity or increase the cost-effectiveness of your team training?
Games offer hands-on, motivating opportunities that can be used over and over. Purchase simulations like GameLearn training platforms, or consider three hands-on options of your own:
1. New Hire Scavenger Hunt.
Whether it's a physical or online hunt for facts, facilities, or people, get people competing and moving and calm their nerves in the process.
2. Product Knowledge Mix and Match.
Employees take turns being introduced to a variety of customers (including purchasing needs, budget, or personal background).
Players then compete to match the best product to each customer while negotiating a deal or completing the sale.
3. "What If" Training Simulations.
These games give teams the opportunity to explore hypothetical situations.
If they made XX decision, what would happen? Assign real-life tasks and challenges, allow teams to collaborate and present options, and process together about the benefits or consequences of the strategies they chose. Added bonus: supervisors learn alongside employees and gain hands-on experience in leading their teams!