I started swimming a couple of years ago. I started swimming after injuring myself every time I tried to pick up running.
After a few months of swimming, I no longer suffered from the back pain I had for a long time, I felt much better and stronger. And I was proud of my progress – I started with 1K (>0.6 miles, 40 laps) and slowly increased to 2.5K (>1.5 miles) per swim, with improved lap times.
However, after a year, my progress slowed, and since the session took an hour, I didn’t want to commit to additional time.
Talking about my newfound sport with one of our strategic customers, Brian, who also happens to be an amateur swimmer, he said he uses FORM, AR (augmented reality) goggles, which project on the lens your swim distance, pace, heart rate and more information in real-time.
Immediately I bought myself a pair. After a short period of time, I improved my pace. It was very similar to gamification, with real-time feedback, internal rewards, accomplishment recognitions, and other intrinsic motivators that kept me pushing my hardest during the hour’s practice.
But, after a few months, I hit a wall again and stopped improving. I knew it was time for change and found another workout option in the FORM goggles, which puts you in an intervals mode. Instead of swimming at a constant pace like I normally did, you have different programs.
The program I chose was a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training):
Warmup – slow pace;
Faster – moderate pace;
3 sets of HIIT (2 x 2 laps, 4 x 2 laps, 6 x 2 laps);
and warm down.
As a result, I managed to improve my pace again. Even better, my once boring training session became much more interesting, I felt more in my muscles after practice, and more importantly, I received a better dose of dopamine.
HIIT…but for business
So, what’s the connection to business? In sales, we are all wired to measure performance on a quarterly cadence, likely due to budget cycles.
However, it is also a form of HIIT. Sales and other performance-focused roles are very intense, and it’s very hard to keep high levels of performance for long periods of time. Therefore, releasing pressure at the beginning of the quarter and increasing it by the end improves performance. The same goes for marketing: holiday sales (Labor Day, Black Friday), campaigns, etc., bring people to buy more.
So, how can we utilize HIIT in business? How can we improve stamina, and strength (skill), and burn fat (wasted time), to keep improving and break our virtual walls of performance?
Short-term performance challenges yield measurable results
The answer is to create short-term challenges. Challenges should include the following characteristics:
- Create a clear and simple goal. The goal can be a KPI, a task, a training session, etc.
For example: selling the new product that was launched last week.
- Clear and simple target. The target can be specific (number, $), an level of improvement (10%), or a relative target (better than the average of my team).
For example: sell 20 units a day.
- Time-bound: Every challenge should have a defined start and an end date. This creates focus and sustainable excitement.
For example: 2 weeks.
- Personal or team challenge. Based on the business needs, determine if challenges should be defined at the team or personal level.
For example: personal improvement.
- Competition or achievement base. Define if winners are those at the top (highest achievement), the first to meet the target or anyone who meets the target. Choose your approach based on which outcome you think will be most motivating.
- Promotion: Make sure to promote your challenge. Create a campaign that will build excitement before and during the challenge and celebrate once it’s finished.
- Follow-up. Build upon the success of the challenge with another challenge. For example: Challenge top performers to bring success tips to the whole team.
I want to return to Brian from the beginning of the post. As a customer at CellularSales, Verizon’s largest authorized retailer, he was the first to adopt, and was also part of the design process, for Centrical’s Challenges module. The capability enables managers and employees to create challenges in real-time. The results of implementing challenges for Brian’s organization were amazing, driving improvement i overall sales, new product launches, and up-selling of accessories, while helping employees grow, succeed, and engage better with their company.
I’ll summarize, for work to be meaningful and to bring out the best in every individual, it needs to be exciting, fresh, dynamic, challenging, and motivating. Companies can use the mechanics and dynamics of gamification and HIIT to keep people engaged, aligned, continuously growing, and unleash their full potential. And of course, the net result will improve the bottom line.