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Don’t work, quest!

An important question for every interim consultant is ‘How to get the great assignments’. Working as an interim consultant for 9 years I haven’t had real problems in getting fun tasks and my time without an assignment numbers in the weeks. However, as a manager I need to coach my people in the best way to make sure that they get the great assignments.

In this blog I will argue that the best way to get the fullest out of your work experience is to compare it with a game. Instead of working I recommend to start questing. This means using the work environment as an area to go on adventures, help others with their problems and fully explore the land and the lore.

It’s all about experience

Computer gamers know that it is all about getting experience points. Experience points are vital in order to improve your skills in combat, wizardry, stealth and so on. Along the way you level up, obtain better gear and become capable to do more with less effort. This all prepares you to conquer the final evil boss, free the princess and be the great hero of all time.

“But this can only be done in games but not in real life”, you may be thinking. I would state “Yes, you can”. Real life is not fundamentally different in this manner. Change combat, wizardry, stealth with tasks like managing, analysis and communication and you can approach your workplace as an adventurer in the same manner as your favorite avatar in your own game.

Although the goal is different, comparing a game with real life the method is possible. You gain experience when you work. Leveling up is making a promotion and the higher you get, the better resources you might obtain. In the end you might even replace the final boss.

It’s all about experience. Try to gain as much experience from every job/project/assignment you get. Gain experience to boost your professional skills and your insight in your own strengths and weaknesses.

Celebrate the mundane

It can be argued that gaming is more fun but again, this doesn’t have to be true. In most games things happen that are tedious or boring. One of the most celebrated features of the new Zelda game is the ability to cook. Gamers celebrate that they are able to try out different recipes.

The strange thing is that doing something mundane can be regarded as very enjoyable. The reason most likely is because the mundane is necessary to do the extraordinary. You need to learn to do the simple things in order to be able to do the complex things. More importantly, there will come a moment when you don’t need to do it anymore.

Again the same goes for work. Most things are mundane, people expect you to do it because they don’t want to do it. So try to learn even from the aspects that seem boring. Instead of focusing on what you’d rather be doing, try to learn as much as possible and look for the moment to move on.

I have learned more while being on a job I did not like. When dealing with a terrible boss, instead of wanting a better one, I tried to learn how to ‘manage’ him. The reason I could do it was because I knew it was temporary.

Communication is key

Another comparison that can be made is that in order to become better, you need others. Learning everything alone is not as effective as with a group. Again the gaming world teaches us that this helps one. In MMORPG’s (massive multiplayer online roleplaying games) like World of Warcraft people form different groups in order gain experience while also socializing and interacting. A key component in the success of this is the capability of the members to communicate and cooperate.

Again, reality comes really close to virtuality. For instance, Spotify has set up its business according to a model dubbed the guilds and clans model. This model is copied completely from the gaming world. Employees do not only work in one scrum team, they work in different teams constantly mixed up of different employees and each team has a distinct target and goal.

The reason why I believe the Spotify model works so well is because it demands that every employer tries to cooperate in different groups. This increases the amount of experience because in every team your own role might be slightly different. You are asked to work with many different people in many different situations and try to continuously learn, adjust and grow. The most valuable experience is the ability to communicate. It really is key.

Let the adventure begin!

The main emphasis is that you start with allowing your work to become an adventure. It is more than just a means to get a paycheck. It is a means of improving yourself, a way to become the hero you always wanted to be.

Once you start accepting this, you will see that you will become more proactive, be more observant for opportunities and will experience the grinding as less troublesome. When you do this, you will see that the you will get the great assignments. This not because they will come to you but because you will go to them. So start today and let the adventure begin!

Wouter Mertens

Business Manager IT

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