“I’m not sure what we should choose for our primary game in our business this year,” one of the hot tub business owners shared with me. “There are lots of different things we could do. It’s hard to pick one area to focus on, and besides could you please remind me why we are calling this a game instead of an annual goal?”
I was video conferencing with the management team of a hot tub business and we were identifying their primary focus for their business during the upcoming year.
“That’s a great question,” I replied, “Most businesses use the term goals when it comes to communicating outcomes to their employees. Unfortunately, many employees get burned out when talking about goals.
Not only that, but the term “goal” can bring to mind a variety of experiences around setting goals, some positive and some negative. However if we talk about creating a “game” – that brings to mind an entirely kind of experience.”
I asked them to recall different games or hobbies that they enjoyed playing and to share what made that particular game or hobby fun for them. Their eyes lit up as they shared in detail what was fun for them about the games they enjoyed.
I eagerly interjected, “That’s exactly why we call this a game. We want to make it fun, exciting, energizing, challenging and engaging for your employees – the same elements that we all love about playing a game.”
Choosing a Game
After several meetings, the management team chose to create a game around achieving a breakthrough in their annual gross revenue number. I asked them to consider a number that was a stretch for them, but one that they could also imagine themselves accomplishing.
After they identified a number, I asked them they felt the number would be inspiring for retail, but for the service department, admin and their chemical division as well.
They excitedly shared, “That’s easy, it really is a game that every department and every individual can participate in, not just retail! Which is great because as a company, we tend to rely heavily on retail making their spa sales to meet our annual revenue goals, every department is going to have to participate full out if we are going to win at this game!”
Several weeks later during our video conference call with the employee leadership team, I asked the managers to share the game with their employee leaders.
After the management team had shared, it was clear that all the employee leaders were fired up and energized by the game when one of the admin leaders said, “I really feel inspired by this game, because I want to be part of a winning team, I mean nobody wants to be part of team that is losing.
It feels good when the entire business is succeeding in a big way and it would make me even more proud to work here!”
Each employee leader nodded their heads in agreement and in turn committed to playing the game.
Creating a Scoreboard For Your Game
The next step was to create a scoreboard for their game. With four different locations, it would be critical that the weekly “score” (gross revenue numbers) was communicated consistently so that every location and department would know on a weekly basis if they were winning or losing.
One of the owners who oversaw the books had to shift his mindset around numbers. In the past, he had believed that most employees didn’t care about the numbers and that ultimately it was a waste of time to compile the numbers because no one would read them. After some initial reticence and coaching, he began sending out weekly numbers.
He was shocked and excited when one of the retail staff told him, “I look forward to having these numbers every week, I’ve always wanted to have these numbers but now we get them consistently. It feels awesome to know exactly where we are on a weekly basis.
This way, I can take the numbers and figure out exactly how much money we need to make to achieve our monthly goal so we’re not waiting till the end of the month or the end of the year with having to pull off a huge impossible number because we didn’t pay attention to our weekly totals.”
The service department also took their weekly numbers and calculated how much each technician would have to sell to achieve their monthly goal. Every department was clearly engaged.
The excitement and anticipation grew even more as they entered the final quarter of the year. Three weeks before the end of the year, I met with the managers via video conference and asked them to share on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the highest whether or not they believed their team would succeed. A couple of the owners expressed doubt as to whether or not their team would be able to pull it off.
Playing Full Out – Even When You Think You might Be Losing
I took this as an opportunity to coach the management team,“The only thing that we can say with any degree of certainty about the time remaining between now and the end of the year is that anything is possible.
It doesn’t matter how your team performed last year, or how it’s performed for the past five years for that matter.
Can you see that when we focus on the last three remaining weeks ahead of us that the only thing we can say with complete honesty and integrity is that the final three weeks of the year are unwritten and that we don’t know what will happen and that anything is possible?”
They nodded their heads in agreement.
The management team went on to lead their team in a powerful and impactful way throughout the final weeks in the year.
The annual numbers game became common talk throughout the company as individuals and departments came together to make it happen. Sales people were looking for more ways to make a sale instead of depending on walk-in traffic, delivery became even more resourceful with getting spas delivered. Everyone was asking, “How much more do we have to get to win at our game?
The end result after the final numbers were tallied — was that they had succeeded with exceeding expectations and achieving their numbers! When you create a game that powerfully engages every employee and department and consistently communicate the scoreboard to employees, you unleash the power of engagement and team alignment – making the “impossible,” possible.