7 motivational takeaways from Pokemon Go

The quest for the augmented reality creatures has rewards for players. Consider, though, these aspects of the game that are relevant in engaging and revitalizing your workforce.

I’m baffled by the behavior of Pokemon Go players.

It’s as if they shift into a hypnotic state once they’re playing. I heard a great description: “Zombie aPOKEalyspe.”

People are suffering injuries, and criminals are using the game to lead players into situations where Pokemon-related attacks are happening. All this got me thinking: Why are so many so fanatical about this game?

It appears Pokemon Go is harnessing the power of augmented reality by giving incentives for people to go out and explore. There must be something we can learn from this and apply to motivating employees.

These are a few relevant things I’ve learned about the game:

  1. The game offers clear structure.
  2. Players receive immediate feedback.
  3. Players are challenged with attainable goals.
  4. The game encourages going outside and walking.
  5. Playing the game facilitates paying attention and noticing more.
  6. Players find it easier to interact and build rapport with strangers.
  7. It’s fun to play.

So, how do these factors translate to the workplace in motivating employees? Here’s my take on how you can replicate that Pokemon Go fervor within your workforce:

1. Provide clear structure with roles, responsibilities and authority. Tension and conflict within the team can often be addressed when everyone clearly understands who is responsible for what, along with aligning the responsibility and authority parameters. This common understanding can go a long way toward establishing expectations and preventing duplication of work and encroachment on one another’s territory. Clarity can be quite motivating.

2. Offer feedback on performance regularly and in a timely manner. This, too, helps everyone understand how their performance and behaviors are measuring up to expectations. Remember, some people crave more feedback than others. If you are someone who doesn’t need frequent kudos, you might forget that others do need critiques, praise and encouragement on a regular basis. It’s also motivating for high performers when the low performers receive timely feedback or face consequences should performance not improve.

3. Set challenging, yet attainable goals. You have to be able to measure performance and develop your team. Setting goals is a common practice, but you want to make sure that it’s a collaborative process. Take time to understand their personal development goals in combination with performance requirements. This way you’ll gain more buy-in, and the other person will be motivated to achieve those goals.

4. Encourage and support cross-functional work. This is another great way to develop your team. If there is an opportunity to work on a task force or special project with people from different functional areas, that person will not only learn from others’ expertise, but will also expand their internal relationships. This widens their perspective and encourages being open-minded when soliciting ideas from others. Once employees connect with people outside their regular team, those who were once strangers will have a common interest.

5. Delegate meaningful work or request they stand in for you in meetings. When we offer someone the opportunity to take on new, challenging work or afford him or her increased exposure with senior executives, it’s a departure from the comfort zone. When we are out of our comfort zones, we become more alert and boost our efforts to bring our A game.

6. You’ve gotta have some fun at work. We spend a lot of time in the workplace; if that environment is a constant grind and filled with stressful situations, we’re miserable. Leaders set the tone for the team. If you take yourself seriously all the time, if you lose your sense of humor and the human touch, your team will be cycling through a revolving door.

Martha Duesterhoft is a partner with PeopleResults. In addition to consulting projects, Martha provides executive leadership coaching, and has worked with clients including PepsiCo, Microsoft, McKesson, BNSF, USP, Catholic Charities, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University. Contact her at mduesterhoft@people-results.com and follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft. A version of this article first appeared on PeopleResult’s Current blog.

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