by Sarah Sweeney, Marketing Assistant at Aurion Learning.
Many HR and L&D professionals face the problem of ensuring that their training and learning programmes maintain learner engagement and motivation. Gamification has been regularly recognised as an opportunity to help solve this problem.
In this post, we consider whether gamification can enhance the learning experience. Before we consider if it is game on for gamification in learning, it is necessary to look at what gamification essentially is.
What is Gamification?
Games and game like components have been invading the learning realm for quite some time now. Although its definition differs, for the most part, gamification in learning is the use of game mechanics to ‘gamify’ content to engage and entice users by encouraging and rewarding use.
Although Nick Pelling first coined the term “gamification” in 2002, it has actually been around for some time – 40 years in fact, with many organisations already using features in their work from video games.
Indeed, it can be said that loyalty programs, target-based bonuses and employee-of-the-month schemes are all examples of how gamification as an incentive to growth has been around for a long time too.
Examples of gamification in learning include:
- Training: technology giants, Microsoft use gamification to train users of Microsoft Office on how to use the new ribbon interface effectively.
- Education: New York based school – Quest to Learn, advocates game-based learning to make education more engaging and relevant to children.
- Employee productivity: Management tool Arcaris uses gamification to improve productivity in call centres.
Now that we know what gamification is and where it is being used in learning, it is necessary to see whether it actually works.
Does Gamification in learning work?
The gamification of e-learning unquestionably presents unique possibilities for learning technologists as they explore additional ways to educate and importantly engage learners.
It is widely recognised that adding interactive activities in e-learning are no longer optional extras, but essential to effective learning. However, it is important that the addition of game like elements into the e-learning programme are only applied in the context of the programme that allow the learner the opportunity to apply their retained knowledge to live situations, rather than distract and dazzle learners with wizardry from the overall learning goal.
Frequently, my social media feeds are inundated with social games, although irritating at times, there is no escaping the surge in popularity of online gaming and social media. The site, DevHub, reported an eightfold increase in the number of users completing their sites after adding gamification elements to the process. If there was any indication that the gamification was a fad, according to research from M2 it’s here not only stay, but increase in its use.
“The global market for gamification apps and services will grow to $2.8 billion by 2016.”
The enthusiasm for gamification has however met with some criticism. Game designers Radoff and Robertson have criticised gamification for excluding aspects like storytelling, an important element of learning. Whilst university researcher Deterding, has argued that current approaches to gamification create an artificial sense of achievement.
What does the successful application of gamification in e-learning look like?
- Gamification isn’t about games, but the learners.
- It isn’t about knowledge but behaviour.
- It extracts the motivational techniques out of games and uses them for life-applicable learning.
- It allows quick feedback of progress and communications of goals that need to be accomplished.
Gamification is made appealing for e-learning because of our human tendencies. On the whole, we generally enjoy actively participating engaging and competing with others. Gamification allows learners to connect and learn together with playful applications and incentives, particularly when there are engaging game design elements used.
Today’s learners are however no longer placated with trivial reward systems but rather sophisticated experiences that hold real value. Organisations embracing the gamification in learning can stand to see learners more engaged and retain more information, but only if it is applied aptly to the e-learning programme, achieving the overall core learning objectives.
Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.
In the last of our guest blog posts on talent management, Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions talks about performance appraisals and PDPs.
First of all a statement on Succession Planning; this statement might not be true, but it is my firm belief after many years of working with businesses all around Europe. It is this…
Succession Planning is the single most important and critical piece of functionality in the Talent Management suite – however it is:
1) the last one that you should implement, and
2) possibly the hardest piece of functionality to get right.
Sorry if this is in bold – I would probably put it in flashing lights as well if I could…
Consider this – how many times have you seen companies lose their way and quickly lose market share, profits and shareholder value when the wrong person is appointed into a critical position? How many times have you read about the time it has taken to appoint someone else into a critical position, and seen the impact that this delay has had on all the above, and on the other side of the coin, how many times has success of a business been linked directly to the critical talent that is the driving force or forces behind the company.
Often this is the CEO or Managing Director of the group, but just as often it is the Chief Financial Officer or the technical boffins in the company that are the financial and the creative brains and therefore just as critical to the performance of the company.
Succession Planning is therefore about one major thing – making the right decisions about who inside the company is able to step into the critical positions at the right time. The right time might be an emergency – what happens is the CEO falls ill? What happens if a critical technical person decides to resign to pursue something different? There are many circumstances that will lead to businesses losing people that are fundamentally critical to the business, and in a large company there could be hundreds of critical positions.
Another what happens if the business doesn’t have a replacement, capable of stepping into a critical position? The business will have to go outside to the market to recruit the right person, and this will have several large negative impacts:
Immediate Financial Cost
Critical roles will almost certainly have a large salary and benefits package attached to them, and therefore head-hunter and associated costs will be high. Most head-hunters charge companies based on the value of the employee, and often they will charge the equivalent of between 6 months and 1 full year of the person’s salary that they are recruiting – so if headhunting a new critical person, the immediate impact is likely to be a 6 figure sum disappearing off the bottom line revenue of the company. Large businesses with more than 25,000 people use head-hunters many times in a year, but used correctly, Succession Planning could reduce this significantly by better identifying and preparing worthy successors from inside the business. It has a potentially massive immediate impact on the profitability of the company.
Time to recruit
Recruiting the right person is likely to take months, and while this happens the business will have issues of various kinds, with the most obvious one being drift – without the business or technical lead in place the business will not perform as it should, and this could have a high cost over the months that the business is lacking it’s leader(s).
Time to train
People who are recruited from outside – even though they might be very skilled – still need time to get up to speed with the way the company operates. This will have a negative impact and the business will struggle while the new head takes time to start to add value.
Dissatisfaction in the existing workforce
If the company does not promote from within whenever it can, then it can cause deep unrest and dissatisfaction and can often lead to other critical members of the workforce leaving the business.
So to summarise on these points – there is a real and valuable business case for the management of succession planning – and therefore it is often seen as the most strategic and valuable part of the Talent Management suite by senior people in the business.
Succession Planning is also about doing planning for the 1 year, 2 year, and more replacement of critical talent. Planning worthy successors from inside the business takes time – so if the business starts to look at potential successors for critical senior positions what types of information do they want to have available and therefore analyse?
- Competencies – if a potential successor is there, how many gaps does he or she have in their competencies when you evaluate their scores on these against the competency requirements for the critical job position?
- Performance appraisal ratings – What have the recent performance appraisal rating been, and therefore is the potential successor a hi-po (High Performer)?
- Career expectations – does the person want to make the next move and take on this extra responsibility? Some people for outside reasons may have the skills but may not want the extra burden.
This is why Succession Planning and Succession Management has to be one of the last components of Talent Management to be implemented – it is useless without the metrics gained from time spent using the other components. Without this there will be insufficient data to do the analysis and then groom the identified successors.
How does a business use Succession Planning to prepare the right individuals?
The first and most critical step in Succession Planning is to identify competency gaps and appropriate training that will allow potential successors to close gaps in their competencies relative to their job position.
This will allow the business to get the internal workforce ready to take on those critical positions quicker. Communicate opportunities to the people concerned, and make sure that they are comfortable to move up if and when needed.
Succession Planning is a vital part of Talent Management and should be a very easy sell to senior people such as the HR Director and the CEO.
Continuing his series of guest blog posts on talent management, Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions talks about performance appraisals and PDPs.
So onto Performance Appraisals – I don’t know about you, but I think a lot of managers don’t really enjoy performance appraisals. In my humble experience managers in some larger organisations will complete a performance appraisal because HR tell them that they have to, but they will put as little effort into the thing as possible and in reality their views in the appraisal will be far too subjective. If they like the person, then the appraisee will get a good rating, and if they don’t it’s highly unlikely that that person will do well, irrespective of their ability to do the job.
So this then is the conundrum of HR – most HR managers understand this, and so want to achieve two things:
- Remove subjectivity and replace it with objectivity.
- Make the process as easy as possible for all concerned.
Every company I have worked for in the software world has used a different form for performance appraisals, and since I have worked for a number of companies for more than 5 years, I have seen performance appraisal forms change inside a company a few times as well. This is the challenge for the software business that wants to supply this functionality to clients – they will have one way of doing it, and often they will want you to replicate this in software – which is difficult to do without customisation.
Constituents of a Performance Appraisal
I’m not going to tell you in this blog what a performance appraisal is – I’d actually be quite worried if you don’t know this….however let’s for a minute consider the type of things that different companies might (or might not) want inside a performance appraisal.
- A review of the past period – often 6 months or more often 12 months – including a competency review – has the appraisee got better in the competencies related to his or her job during the period?
- A review of objectives and progress – most HR groups want their employees to be set objectives at the start of the period and then the performance appraisal is the formal assessment of progress against those objectives. Objectives can be personal in nature, or can be linked to department, business unit, or company objectives.
- A review of the next period – setting and agreeing some objectives for the next period. These again can be supplemented during the period if needed.
- An overall rating – some organisations want an overall rating for the appraisee.
- A skills review – what skills does the appraisee have that do not directly tie to their current role?
Some organisations might have more than this, but some will have less. Some will separate the objective setting for the following year, and want to put this into a separate area and time. Evaluating a person’s performance in a given year may sound easy, but with management changes happening quite often in large organisations, and changes of role, these can make performance appraisals a complex area to try and handle in the real world, and to try and automate this in software can be even harder.
Benefits of Automating Performance Appraisal Management
For Talent Management what is the implication of a good process here – what are the benefits of automating this area?
- Automatic storage of a person’s potential improvement over time.
Paper records in HR are an administration overhead and time consuming to manage.
- Automated management of the workflow process.
Who does the appraisal or part of the appraisal need to go to and when?
- Conformance with regulatory requirements.
Managing performance appraisals in this way means that the business can much easier conform with any government regulations in the area.
- An ability to look wider across the business and report on the critical talent much easier.
Having this data across the business often means that it is much easier for the business to select talent pools – groups of people who can be accelerated and become the future leaders.
- An increase in objectivity.
Software should allow other people to be involved in the appraisal process for more critical or senior people. This gives the business the ability to have a 360 degree view at appraisal time. Think about these things when you go to companies and talk to them about this.
The PDP and its Relationship with the Performance Appraisal
So now you understand what a performance appraisal is, what is a PDP? A PDP is a Personal Development Plan. At the start of a period (this may be for instance when the performance appraisal for the last year has just been completed), the business will want each user to know what he or she needs to accomplish in the next period. This goals setting can include goals that the individual wants to achieve (personal goals), department goals, business unit goals etc. Goals should be capable of being pushed down through the organisation hierarchy to the individual.
So why would an individual want or need a personal goal? Perhaps they want a promotion or want to move roles into a more senior position. It might be that some of the competencies required to be in this position are ones that the person needs to have training in order to improve his or her rating. Personal goals always need agreement from management but are often a critical element of the PDP. The PDP is a living breathing and evolving document during the period, and the goals from the PDP then drop into the Performance Appraisal at the end of the period, and the user is formally rated against those goals at that time.
Does this Have an Effect on Compensation?
A pretty obvious question, but one you need to be aware of in software terms. Compensation is often directly or indirectly tied to ratings and scores from performance appraisals. Objectives set for the period often have bonus pay linked to them, and so if you remember the Gartner diagram from my second blog in this series (Talent Management 2: Competencies, Ratings, Scales & Pitfalls) compensation management is a part of Talent Management, and you will sometimes get request from businesses to link the performance appraisal process through into a compensation product.
There is a lot more to Performance Management but that will do for now. A lot to think about – but think of it from the viewpoint of the person who is wanting to buy – what the HR director wants will be different to the CEO, and different to the business unit manager. We’ll discuss that a little more next week.
Continuing his series of guest blog posts on talent management, Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions talks terms and 9 box reporting. Confused? Read on.
Terms and 9 Box Reporting
This week I’ve decided to write up a bit on Talent Management terminology as a lighter bite for the week. I’ve gone into some functional depth in the last few weeks and so thought it would be good to maybe lighten things for a week.
Hippos and Hippies
I’ll start to drill into Performance Management in the next few weeks, but before I do I’d like to look at the terms so that when I then talk about them everyone is not confused…
Hippos (actually Hi-Po’s) are High Potentials. High Potentials are people in the business who have been recognised as being possible leaders of the business in the future. I actually found a pretty funny website here http://www.highpotentialssociety.org/Society/society.html for people who want to classify themselves as high potentials – but the reality is that in business it is important to be able to identify those people who have the potential in the future to really drive the business forward. To understand who is a high potential, and to understand more just google the term – you’ll find loads of data about this term.
Hippies (actually Hi-Pe’s) are High Performers. High Performers are people in the business who in their current role are performing very well, and are good at what they do. They will normally be very competent in their job role, and will be getting high scores in their performance appraisals.
9 Box Reporting
It makes sense that a person who is a high performer could also be a high potential – but a high performer might not be a high potential for a number of reasons. Maybe the person is happy where they are and does not want the extra responsibility that comes with a more senior position. Maybe the person is in a deeply technical role where there is no value to the business in moving them further up the organisation.
HR Directors have therefore found a diagrammatic way of dropping people into boxes in a graphical report commonly called a 9 box report. It is a matrix where one axis rates people based on their high potential score and the other axis rates them on their high performance score. I like this diagrammatic view.
As you can see, if you put people into the various spaces in the grid, then you know a bit more what you should do with them. Software systems give the business the ability to rate people as Hippos, Hippies, or both – however I would always remember that the system is just a tool – companies still have to rely on the abilities of their managers to rate individuals – a bad rating because of lack of knowledge can still drop an individual in the wrong box…and this can be detrimental to the business and to the individual.
Businesses try their hardest to retain people in most quadrants, and will try to have their churn (rate at which people leave and join) be of people in the bottom left quadrant.
By the way – two interesting things:
1. There is also a 16 box – where the scales are 4 by 4. However the more boxes the harder the management becomes.
2. I once met a senior HR manager at a UK event who presented on this subject. She spent a lot of her time producing a set of 9 box reports for her 100,000 person organisation. She was very proud of the myriad of excel spreadsheets she maintained…a lot of hard work that modern Talent Management systems should now support.
I would love to define this this week but I’ve come to the end of this week’s chapter – so let’s talk through Talent Pools next week, and then we’ll move into Performance Management after that.
Continuing his series of guest blog posts on talent management, Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions talks about competencies and assessments.
Many of us think of assessments as things that are used in learning to assess a user’s understanding of a set of education. Assessments in the Talent Management world are a different beast altogether, and the purpose of this week’s blog is to review assessments in the world of Talent Management.
Last week I talked a bit about competencies – leadership and technical. The critical talent in a business can be the people who are identified as the future potential leaders of that business, but can also be the deep techies, who we can all love to hate, but who at the same time are sometimes the more critical talent of the business. People with the ability to lead effectively are in demand, but some technical abilities can be truly unique and therefore quite often it is the people with technical competencies that can be the critical talent for the business.
At some point each year (and for some businesses and roles at multiple points during the year), the business will want to have a person’s competencies assessed formally. Assessments of this kind normally are not something that you can do via a test – it is not an assessment that we, with our learning backgrounds think of – it is normally more of a subjective measure of the abilities of an individual, and this is where there can be a challenge for the business and for HR.
The 360 degree Assessment
Let’s give a real example of this in action. Fred is a call centre manager, and at a personal level his manager doesn’t really like him much. However he is good at the job, is liked by the people who report into him, and has a good reputation with the customers. In a normal organisation with a pyramid organisational structure, and in a pressured business environment, it might only be his manager that will formally score him against his competencies, and this might cause an issue since his manager doesn’t really like him. More and more businesses and HR are therefore trying to move to a 360 degree assessment model, where Fred is assessed by his manager, by the people who report into him, and by other people, including maybe even the customers who work with him, and the people who work alongside him.
This is called a 360 degree competency assessment, and there is software out there that will do this automatically. The benefit of this approach is that the ratings become more objective and less subjective if the business involves all the right people in the rating of his ability to do the job. Some software will allow the business to weight the scores, so that maybe the manager’s rating counts for 50% of the score, the subordinates total 30% etc….
There is always a negative to this and the gotcha here is that the more people you involve, the more time it takes, and the more admin it needs – paralysis by analysis again can easily rear its ugly head.
Things to think through with assessments
Competency assessments can be as complex an area as the business wants it to be – consider these questions:
1. Should a rater be named on the assessment, or be anonymous? If someone rates you with a poor score would the business want the person being rated to know who it was that gave him that low score. The ability to set a rater as anonymous is sometimes asked for, but both ways can have positives and negatives – anonymous ratings with comments are often constructively more useful as the rater feels more able to be honestly constructive about the rating. However anonymous ratings may not give the person being rated the ability to ask the rater why a rating was given or how they could improve. So there is not a right answer here.
2. How many people should be involved? – the more the better, but too many and you get paralysis through analysis.
3. Should you have different setups for different jobs? – for instance if you have a retail organisation with high turnover and you set the assessment so that everyone is assessed in a 360 degree way, is it right to have a shelf stacker rated in the same way as a senior manager – of course not – so you need to have a flexible approach where 360 degree assessments may only be used for areas of the business and people where it will benefit the organisation.
4. Do you want comments at all, or just ratings? – comments can help but again take longer to put into the system.
5. Should you even involve the extended enterprise? – customers and suppliers – should they be involved at all in rating your people? Their opinion will count for customer and supplier facing people, but do you want to expose them to your internal appraisal systems.
Trends and my thoughts
There are lots of considerations here, and there is no right answer, but to finish off this week with some high level trends and thoughts:
1. There is a movement away from subjectivity towards objectivity.
2. Some organisation wrap the competency assessment into the performance appraisal – but the 360 degree assessment can be done at any time of the year, and often businesses will isolate one from the other.
3. When linking competencies to learning the last thing most organisations want is to have the rating of a person move upwards automatically after the person involved has attended training related to a competency. Businesses are much more interested in seeing that the training has allowed the person to be more effective in that aspect of their job, and so while we often want to link competencies to training so that the business can allocate suitable training based on competency gaps, the business will want to have a period of time then after the training before the 360 assessment to see how the training has affected the competency of their workforce. Some systems allow the business to visualise the uplift in competencies and link this to delivered training and this is one of the “nirvanas” for the L&D department….
Enough for this week….next week I’ll move on to Performance Appraisals – a subject we should all know well.
A big welcome to Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions who is our guest blogger for the next six posts.
In this series of blogs, Steve will give us an over-view of Talent Management, taking in competencies and ratings; competency assessments; terms and box reporting; performance appraisals and PDPs; and succession planning. In this first blog post, Steve provides a top level overview of talent management.
What is Talent Management?
The reality is that Talent Management has been around ever since people hired people. As companies got larger and larger it became more and more difficult to sort out the good from the bad, the workaholic from the lazy, etc. Human Resource Management groups were born, and as software evolved then groups like PeopleSoft came to the fore to sell solutions to these groups. I worked for PeopleSoft for 8.5 years and even though nobody ever used the term Talent Management, there were still a group of applications that did the functions that Talent Management systems of today try to do.
The second real truth. Not one vendor of software has a fully functional Talent Management solution. Not one. Many vendors claim to have Talent Management solutions, and some cover a number of the vertical pillars of Talent Management but nobody does it all. It is actually very difficult to provide all of the vertical components; even Oracle is not able to do this yet…so if you get into a debate with a client always bear this in mind. So back to what it is… I will shortly share a diagram that I liked about it, but basically, Talent Management covers recruitment, workforce planning, performance management, succession planning, learning, and goes all the way through to compensation management. It is a full circle approach to the management of the people within your business, where performance affects compensation, compensation affects performance, learning affects performance, performance and potential affects succession planning, etc etc. I’ll cover much more detail on each part and what to think about when selling and talking about it at a future stage…but back to the high levels…
Who do we sell Talent Management to?
We then come to the conundrum of selling Talent Management….most companies that you sell into do not have an integrated Talent Management strategy. I found over the years and am still finding it today that a business’s internal structure will tell you a lot about what you can sell them. Most companies still have someone responsible for L&D, and you will often find three things about this person:
- They don’t talk very often to the HR Director.
- They know nothing about performance and Talent, and if they do, they have very little influence over any decisions related to this.
- Their budget and their empire is very much focused on Learning.
Talking to HR Directors you find that most of them have very little real interest in Learning. HR Directors are focused on three things:
- How do I support the CEO’s aim to maximise shareholder value – otherwise known as operating profit?
- How do I make my business an *attractive place for people to want to work? E.g. How do I attract the best Talent?
- How do I minimise the churn rates in my business?
They are often looking two or three years in the future, but at the same time you often find in talking to them that fire-fighting takes much more of their day to day activity than they would like. IT systems are often seen more of a challenge, and with Learning only being one component of a full solution, in actuality they are more likely to take the view that a single corporate view of people from a single system would add a lot more value than multiple silos for learning, development, performance, compensation etc. However since the business has a group who just looks after the L&D requirements you are actually likely to find that the HR Director has a HR business that is not ready to take on an integrated system – so most businesses will still come to market with a specific part of Talent Management and with an RFP where the “strategic direction” they want from the software vendor is for an “Integrated Talent Management Strategy”. In reality most businesses current structure will make this a difficult thing to implement…
Ok – so I hope this helps – top level on Talent Management, and top level on who NetDimensions sells Talent Management solutions to. I intend to drill down in the coming chapters into the different functional areas, and next week’s blog will link us from learning into competencies and the management of these things – the positives and the negatives, how most vendors talk about competencies, and the average HR Director’s view.
Bye for now, Steve.