It’s All about How You Play the Game

team performance play the gameI’ve been writing and thinking a lot about teams lately, and a news item about old colleague got me thinking about how we need to reinvent how teams work together and are incented to achieve peak performance. It was just announced that FantasySalesTeam was acquired by Microsoft. In the spirit of full disclosure, CEO and founder Adam Hollander and I worked together several years ago, and it’s exciting to see old friends succeed. But what’s even more exciting is what Adam and his team have created – and the lessons we can learn from it success.

FantasySalesTeam is a gamification solution for sales contests that allows sales managers to track multiple metrics around results, behaviors, and activity, as well as encourage competition on an individual and team level. This video on their website explains in detail how it works. The really interesting thing though, is it also incorporates nonsales staff into the process, increasing their sense of involvement in generating organizational revenue.

The idea here is far beyond what one product can do for sales driven organizations. The idea is how do we radically rethink how we define performance. It’s about outcomes, as well as behaviors and actions. How do we find immediate ways to recognize, measure and reward performance on all of these levels, and have people invest not only in their own success with that of their team?

These are not easy questions. They require us to really look at not only what performance means to an organization, but truly analyze the behaviors and actions that are correlated to driving those results. They require us to continually look for and measure and provide feedback on these traits. They require us to talk about reward and compensation in a much more transparent way. If we’re invested in each other’s success, we need to be much more open about our wins and our losses, and upfront about the financial impact that has for us as individuals, teams and is an organization.

Salespeople often have a reputation of being tough – they are used to rejection and being told no, to being put on leader boards, to fighting for every sale. But why shouldn’t the rest of us be just as accountable for individual and team success? It’s not about a gladiator fight to the death. It’s about actually understanding what great performance is, being unafraid to look for it, reward it, and coach for it. And to hold each other accountable as a team for achieving it.

We can’t all draft our fantasy project team for every task at work. But this idea of rethinking our accountability to the organization and each other could help us radically rethink performance management and team building. And maybe have a little fun to boot.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst, Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group @mollielombardi

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