One of the biggest challenges for business leaders today is to keep their teams motivated and engaged. A company specializing in solving this is SCC Members Sparta Sales. Sparta has come up with a software solution for keeping teams engaged through competition. Their gamification software promotes actions, not outcomes, meaning anyone can ‘win’ – boosting morale, engagement, motivation and ultimately performance. We caught up with UK Managing Director Peter Britten to find out more about the concept.
Where did the idea for Sparta come from?
When you are running an organisation, the number one priority for you as a leader is to keep your team motivated, engaged and focused. Engaged, motivated employees will always outperform unengaged and demotivated employees.
The problem is: motivating people, especially those in customer-facing roles such as sales and support, has for many years been a mystery. Most leaders treat their staff like coin-operated machines - feed them money (in the form of bonuses, commissions and prizes) and they’ll work hard for you. The truth about what motivates people at work though couldn’t be further from the truth.
People are most driven and most motivated when they are are engaged. Now, what does engaged mean? Engagement at work is actually quite simple. People need to know what to focus on, understand how their work impacts the “big picture”, are recognised when they do well, and lastly are given a chance to develop and grow.
Again, most organisations are failing when it comes to building engaged teams and therefore are unable to build truly high-performing teams.
The founders of Sparta wanted to solve this problem and build a platform to make building a high performance organisation a breeze. We wanted to make it simple to motivate, recognise and reward your staff to maximise performance across an entire organisation.
How does it work?
Sparta is a gamification tool that enables you to run competitions for your employees to drive actions not outcomes.
As the administrator (or what we call the ‘power-user’), you follow the simple step by step instructions to set up activities and behaviours which are weighted by points or as overall percentages of your goals for your competition. Once you have added the behaviours and activities you want to encourage your employees to be undertaking and that can be measured, you then simply set a start and end date for the competition and assign what the prize(s) will be given to the winners. The competitions can be done either in an individual or team format.
The users then simply log their activities either through the Sparta platform on their computer or through the Sparta App. This takes absolutely no time at all, and the results are then displayed in a feed for all to see, along with a league table showing everyone's positions on your desktops or on TV screens around your office.
WHY does it work?
The majority of organisations seem to be focus heavily on standardised KPI’s and results when coaching and managing their employees, not on key behaviours, actions and activities, whilst not consistently providing motivation, recognition and reward to their staff.
Organisations also seem very focussed on spending time managing top performers (20% of your workforce), or trying to get under performers to perform at all (10% of your workforce), which sadly is sometimes a losing battle.
But the main focus should be on those inconsistent middle performers (70% of your workforce). This is where Spara comes into its element, as by moving those middle performers up into the top performer bracket will have a significant impact on your business.
What Sparta enables you to do is to focus more on driving employee behaviours, actions and activities that have an impact on the development of the employee to perform against their KPI’s and targets. Sparta encourages the working practices you desire from your staff, employee engagement, fun and motivation, mirroring the behaviours that make your top performers so consistent, and helps you coach your employees to be carrying out the activities they should be doing to make themselves more successful in their roles.
Example of this could be encouraging employee knowledge of your competitors and the market place, whilst also sharing that knowledge with each other. You could therefore set up a behaviour in the Sparta tool where every time an employee reads an article about a competitor they then share that with their colleagues. The result, improved competitor landscape knowledge and improved collaboration across the team.
What results do you see from using it yourself?
The Sparta team use the product internally almost daily. We ourselves use the platform to build a great culture (based on recognition, feedback, accountability and energy) and to focus on the behaviours that are critical to success.
Throughout the different stages of the company, our usage of the platform has of course changed. In the early days, when the core focus of the company was acquiring new customers to validate our product ideas - we used Sparta to reward people for meeting new customers, and acquiring new customers.
As we matured and we reached a certain level of “product-market-fit”, we needed to prioritize other behaviours and activities. Now that we work with over 100 customers, we know our product is a fit for the market - so now we measure and reward our staff for performing behaviours pertaining to improving customer satisfaction, knowledge sharing within our internal team, gathering product feedback from our user base or any other number of core behaviours that we believe will help Sparta become a more successful company.
In terms of results, we see a clear relation between the metrics we measure in Sparta and the execution of those metrics or behaviours. “What gets measured gets done”.
What response have you had from clients? Feedback?
The response from customers has been phenomenal so far. We work with over 100 customers, including some of the world’s biggest enterprises including Coca Cola, Volkswagen and Office Depot and they’ve seen tremendous results.
Why is there a need for a solution like Sparta today?
Think about the problems and challenges Sparta can solve - it saves you and your employees time, with the need for everything to be done digitally, Sparta allows you to run competitions and drive crucial employee behaviours in real time, creating that instant healthy competitive spirit across your organisation and making their own learning and development fun and transparent. Leaders can implement coaching and measurement of staff motivation and development in a quick, simple and time saving way.
As an organisation you can build on and enforce your company values, creating that all important company culture, encouraging employee career progression and staff retention which is crucial to a happy and successful workforce.
Sparta will make everyone in your organisation feel valued and that they are being invested in. It's common for some departments not to focus on behaviours and activities to help improve their skills and provide that all important recognition. Think of outside of sales and customer services, how are those other departments made to feel engaged in their roles outside of the norm? Sparta is the way forward to help achieving making all employees feeling included to the overall success your business.
Where do you see it (as well as this trend) going in the future?
I really think that Sparta is helping define a new way of managing people and operating a company.
We believe most people never reach their full potential because management fail to create an environment that motivates them, engages them or helps them focus on what really matters – the behaviours that lead to success.
We feel that we are just at the beginning of this shift. Sparta can hopefully be a catalyst for the world’s biggest companies to fundamentally change the way they operate, and therefore build better workplaces everyone, and help their staff reach their full potential.