Last weekend, I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer. Everybody was talking about it and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. After multiple hours of catching Pokémon, I realized something had happened to me. Pokémon GO motivated me to walk hour after hour until my phone battery died. This game motivated me unlike any manager had ever done. Here are three lessons that any manager can take home from Pokémon GO.
1. Give people a purpose
Pokémon gives people a purpose. Everyone I bumped into while playing the game – and believe me, it was quite a number – was trying to “catch ’em all”. There is something about catching a new and rare Pokémon that is very satisfying – and hard to explain. It sounds a bit silly, but it really is not. Check the short clip below showing a crowd of people running towards Central Park (New York) to catch a Vaporeon (one of the rarer Pokémon). People even get out of their cars in the middle of the street to try and catch it.
I have never seen an employee this passionate about getting to work. I think this video shows why employees need a sense of purpose in their work: to be challenged on a daily basis.
Simon Sinek (author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action) explains this brilliantly in his TEDx talk (video below). He wonders how companies like Apple are able to be innovative year after year, even though they are a computer company like any other. Apple has access to the same talents and consultants as any other company. So, how does it keep innovating?
Whether you work or play Pokémon, your motivation depends on why you do what you do. Managers become transformative leaders and inspire others when they are able to explain the motivation of employees to them.
2. Reward often
People are walking for miles and miles to collect Pokémon. According to a Qualtrics survey, 43% of Pokémon GO players report losing weight, with an average of 3.2 pounds. Also, players are outside an additional two hours per day on average compared to people who don’t play the game. Players are complaining about tired legs, sore feet and blisters, but they still keep walking. In fact, people walk so much that their dogs became exhausted! Pokémon GO seems to be much more effective to make people lose weight than any fitness app.
Pokémon GO proves that, in order to make people work, you need to reward them often. With every step they take the chances of catching a new Pokémon increase. And that is exactly what managers need to recognize. Rewarding lavishly and on a regular basis does wonders.
Dale Carnegie made ‘rewarding’ one of the key principles of his timeless classic How to win friends and influence people. In order to be a leader with the ability to change people, you need to praise the smallest improvement and every improvement. According to Carnegie, you need to be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
This last quote is backed by science. When people receive positive feedback, they feel positively engaged with their task, which simultaneously makes them like the task more.
When managers want people to work harder and enjoy their work more, they need to compliment them and give other positive feedback. It works very well and it is one of the easiest areas a manager can improve upon.
3. Develop people
After catching enough Pokémon, players have the ability to upgrade and evolve them. Only through these evolved and stronger Pokémon are people able to battle other players and eventually capture territories. Pokémon are a player’s competitive advantage.
Average managers attempt to improve performance. Great managers develop people.
This is in line with how great managers see people. They are less interested in their employee’s performance and more interested in their development. They know performance is an outcome of development done right.
Pokémon GO causes accidents and robberies. However, as mentioned before, it also gets people to move. This is where managers should take notice. By giving people a purpose in their work, and rewarding and developing them, managers get the most out of their people.
Employees are more loyal towards managers who put their employees’ needs first. We all know the saying: “people leave their boss, not their job”. Insufficient personal and professional development are amongst the main motives of people quitting their job.
So, my advice to all managers out there is not to fall in the same trap I did. Don’t start playing Pokémon GO. I can assure you it is addictive and it will cost you valuable hours. Instead, learn from what the game can teach you. Give your employees a purpose, reward them frequently and invest in their personal and professional development. And maybe, by doing so, you will make your employees as addicted to work as I became addicted to playing Pokémon GO.