EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re going to start a series of blogs, videos and infographics on motivating, leading and (ahem) actually being “Millennial” in the workplace and we’re going to call it: “The Millennials Aren’t Aliens”. Enjoy great content on a sometimes misunderstood generation that is the fastest growing population in the workplace.
First an admission. I play Pokemon Go.
Now, I have (two little kids) excuses but I’ve found the game to be a unique “gaming” experience that mixes both the real and virtual smartphone worlds.
I was bewildered when I first learned of it, and like most, it was only till I began explaining this game to other leaders, CEO’s, peers and the like (mostly 35years old +) that I learned exactly why so many are entranced by this game.
My answer is simple – it’s a game that takes every experience of being young, adventurous and technologicaly advanced and puts them into one game.
So, regardless if you’re uninterested or all-in on Pokemon Go, there’s a LOT to learn about the players who swear by this interesting game.
But first, A POKEMON GO PRIMER: If you’re not aware of what Pokemon Go is then let me try to explain. Pokemon is a Japanese-made Role Player Game where players gather animal-esque Pokemon characters to then challenge other Pokemon players with their arsenal. Made popular in the 90’s through a series of games and TV shows, it’s hooked generations of players through card games to video games.
Pokemon Go is the next iteration of the popular game that mixes the popular Pokemon franchise with Google-Maps-like player universe where you can search your city in “real life” and capture Pokemon’s in order to build your arsenal of characters and try to level up.
In its short lifespan, the app has already surpassed Twitter and other popular Smartphone apps in the ‘most active daily users’ category and is quickly rising up the Apple App store charts as one of the most popular apps ever.
91% of the game’s players are 35 and younger. This is no surprise to virtually anyone but it’s important to realize that understanding Pokemon Go could also provide an insight into the world of what motivates and captivates millennials and younger.
Here’s our Top 3 takeaways:
1) It’s both a social and private experience
The first thing that most players realize once playing the game is that Pokemon Go utilizes both social and private playing experiences. You can get lost in the characters, hatching eggs and “leveling up” but you also have to venture outside to completely play the game.
What does that teach us? Well, many things but most of all we learn that Millennials are both fiercely independent and social beings at the same time.
As a result of growing up in the age of social media and literally every moment being potential fodder for Facebook and the like, the younger generation appreciates and values privacy as well.
Taking time to motivate and lead your younger workforce by utilizing both private and social cues is critical. Have group meetings and regular private coaching sessions. Recognize positive behavior or accomplishments in both a social and individual way.
2) There’s no one “type” of person that plays the game
Pokemon Go has done one thing that few other apps or games have been able to do and that is reach mass appeal quickly. Looking at the statistics of who plays the game, there’s no one type. In short, if you’re under the age of 35, chances are you’re playing (or have played) this game.
What does that teach us? We can’t ever assume Millennials are “one size fits all.” Far to many CEO’s and leaders assume motivating their newest and brightest in the workforce means changing their entire approach to many business functions. However, that’s not always the case.
As leaders, you can’t have an “either-or” mentality. Adopting a “both-and” mentality could be the difference between retaining your youngest and best talent.
Think of bonuses or raises. Typically, the prevailing thought around raises or bonuses is that giving them leads to greater production and happiness at work. In fact, as it relates to Millennials (those “adult age” around 2000 to 2009) this doesn’t motivate most of them as much as a simple “thanks” or social recognition can.
This is where “both-and” thinking can help you.
In order to motivate your newest Jr. Developer, offering BOTH a smaller raise AND social recognition might be exactly what pushes them forward (and saves you money). Regardless – don’t limit your thinking to “Either-or”.
3) Pokemon Go is about tribes
The game presents you with opportunities to join a group which is represented by a color. Joining a group gives you certain priveledges like training and “leveling up” and players are fiercely loyal to their groups already.
What does that teach us? If you’ve spent any time watching natural work groups that arise out of your workplace then you’ve noticed the phenomenon of “tribes” and these are of great importance to leaders.
In the game, they represent not only the “tribe” of those who play the game, but also the IN game tribes or teams that players can join to access areas to train.
In recent research from Dr. Logan, John King and Dr. Fischer-Wright, in their book Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, much light was shed on the power of naturally occurring groups or “tribes” in the workplace.
Much like in the game, workplace tribes develop through stages and at each stage there are important takeaways. One takeaway at an early stage: the key to recognizing productive and efficient “tribes” in your workplace. Language.
Dr. Logan and crew point to language among tribes that sets them apart. Positive and productive tribes have key words or phrases that sets themselves apart from other teams. They know when they’ve done well and they recognize and reward each other for it.
Tribes at lower levels of development are more negative in their language among each other.
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