Monday, June 14, 2010

Ten Points to Gryffindor: Using Team Points to Motivate Trainees

Anyone who has smallish children, or (ehhem) is like me and occasionally reads young adult fiction, is probably familiar with Harry Potter and, consequently, the world of Hogwarts (School of Witchcraft and Wizardry).

In the books and movies, the instructors at Hogwarts use point systems throughout the year as both an incentive for good behavior/academics and a deterrent for bad behavior. At the end of the year, the house with the most points gets the cup.

We could take a lesson from Hogwarts. But how does this apply to training? Well, team points can be incredibly motivating in a training session. They can be used to:
  • Reward "good" behavior (i.e. on-time attendance)
  • Encourage participation
  • Reinforce correct answers
  • Engage trainees as individuals and teams
Even if trainees don't know each other, and even if the "prize" at the end of the session is insignificant (or if there is no prize), competition still adds an element of fun and responsibility to a training session that might not otherwise be there.

Game shows: Game shows are a great way for teams to earn points in a team competition. You can either add a single game to a training session, or have a game that runs throughout the day (previewing information, reviewing information, teaching information, etc). You can use the same format in different rounds (i.e. Multiple matches of a Jeopardy-style game) or you can use different game formats. Game shows can even be structured in tournament style to make them an event within the training.

Knowledge Bucks: A great way to keep individuals engaged and participating in a less structured session is "Monopoly money" or Knowledge Bucks. This funny-money can be given out when individuals respond to a question, arrive on time, etc. Team members can put them in a designated box, and they are added to the team's total score. These can be tallied during breaks.

Energizers: Have the teams organize a post-lunch cheer, with the most creative, on-point and well-executed cheer receiving the most points. Have a paper-toss where members write questions on paper, crumple them up and toss them around until a designated time period passes and one person from each team must answer the question in their hand--for a certain number of points a piece. Activities like this both contribute to the energy of the room and the team competition.

Leader Board: Have a leader board that shows the tally of team scores for all activities--game shows, knowledge bucks, team cheers, etc. Update it at breaks so teams can see where they stand and to stoke a little competition. This doesn't have to be anything fancy--a grid on a white board or a PowerPoint slide will do nicely.

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