Gamification, social business and possible drifts


Gamification is a buzz word, and can be use for many thing with some misuses. But in this post, it is more about the possible drifts related to this process which should lead the employees to be more engaged. Between a volontary engagement and one obtain in a more sneaky way, the spirit is not really the same. Behind some processes which should be funny, you can see a mean to put people under pressure.

In that case there is even a possible impact on the annuel assessment set up by the manager. Behind the gamification, there is the ranking system related to an action/task on the enterprise social network (content post, vote, comments…). The easiest way for the manager is to take in account the rank without check the quality of the content.. Many managers don’t really make their teams growth, don’t have time to prepare their assessment with them, so they will choose this way (even if this ranking is not only quantitative, but related with the interaction of the others employees on the content). But in the end, it’s still a simplification of the employees action with a number instead having a more broader vision of their engagement through the whole enterprise social network. And even for some employees their action is limited in the time, but they are more efficient to support colleagues or solve an issue than others colleagues that spend their whole time on the network without a real added value.

If we are talking about ranking, there is the idea of level, with some archetype : neophyte, rookie, confirmed, guru… Not sure that the expertise is related to a badge and may be open a never ending discussion with a manager about expertise and recognition. I can see in some consulting firm, on the wall of the building some poster with a fast trackers list and another one with the low trackers list to put everyone under pressure. A hall of fame or a leaderboard is quite the same, even it could be more insidious… the management could say, it is not us, just the enterprise social network, it’s fun.

The social pressure of the peers is as stronger as the one from the hiearchy, sometimes even more. For instance at Google I have points if I am smiling and nice with my colleague. Do you really want that, carrot and stick ?

Just to be clear, I am not against the automation and an ESN linked to the HR system can really participate to a talent management program inside the company. But as it is complex to mesure the ROI of an ESN on the business process, it is the same for a person. Then you try to simplify the system, and it’s not the best way. Working differently should lead to a different way to assess, but the gamification is not the only solution and can easily be a fig leave  to put everyone under more pressure. Enterprise social network is just a tool, gamification just a mean and I am the one who manage them. So you need a real HR vision about it, the organization and management culture to make things right.