Good morning SOTGC readers. This is our third segment in The Hunger Games of Business. Some of these posts will have vague references to the Hunger Games books, and some will go into more detail to illustrate the comparison I’m trying to make. I apologize to those of you who have not yet read the books or seen the movies. So I will say this, if you are still planning on reading or watching them and want to have everything be a “first time experience” then perhaps don’t read my posts in this saga. This one is going to be directly centered on sales (since that’s what I do and is easiest for me to write about) however I do feel that the underlying theme can be applied to any job in any industry.
In the actual Hunger Games, every night the tributes will hear the anthem from the Capital and then the faces of the tributes who died that day will flash in the sky. This allows them a chance to see how many are left, who is no longer a threat, and then try to figure out: What alliances are weaker now? What alliances are stronger? Due to these deaths will new alliances be created and how will that affect me? Did the trap I set up for a specific person or alliance work? What strengths do the remaining tributes have and how should I change my strategy, if at all? As the games continue, and more and more faces are displayed in the sky as the game drags on, it also warns the tributes that the target on their own back is getting bigger and bigger, and the competition is getting more fierce.
In most sales organizations a similar version of this is done (minus the deaths of course). At least once a week our corporate office will send out the Rep Scorecard to the entire sales team. This ranks each rep, shows who is in the President’s Club standing (top 10 reps in the company based off of specific factors), every individual rep’s current revenue, their quotas, who is trending to make their quota, who is lagging behind, etc. There was a point where every day they were sending out the scorecards to us. I can’t remember if it was at the end of the month at the end of the quarter but for some reason I remember thinking it was WAY too often. I have a feeling it was because (in general) sales reps are extremely competitive people, and the thought behind it was probably to prod us to push for more revenue if we saw that someone was beating us.
I remember looking at the scorecard for the third time in one week, and sending a text to a couple of my buddies saying “Jeez! It’s like we’re in the Hunger Games and they’re displaying the faces in the sky!!! Every day we either move up or down a couple places based on random big orders that people do or don’t pull in.”
If you’re in the top 10 and trending in the President’s Club you know there is a big target on your back. Everyone IN the top 10 is vying for the top 3 spots, so the competition is extremely fierce. The people in spots 11-15 are all scrambling to drive business and get enough orders in to knock off the people in places 8-10 and make into the PClub standings. As the fiscal year comes to an end you can almost FELL the hunger amongst the sales team to see that scorecard, check their ranking, and then continue with, or adjust their strategy based on what they pulled in and (sometimes more importantly) what their co-workers pulled in (can you say sandbagging…?)
In regards to the books/movies I believe there is a definite purpose for the “scorecard in the sky” because they need to know who they’re still competing with, and who is no longer a threat. However, when it comes to work, no matter what section of the company you’re in, if you really think about it, there is AWALYS a scorecard in the sky, even if it’s not a physical one that’s emailed out to the entire team.
I personally have mixed feelings about the “scorecard in the sky.” Mostly because I feel that, unlike the tributes in the books/movies, we are NOT in a game where we play to the death. There isn’t just ONE winner because only ONE person is allowed to remain alive at the end. Part of me understands why companies email, talk about, or show the scorecard. The other part wonders if more harm than good comes of it. When it’s sent to us so often, we tend to forget what it is that should be driving us (customer service, truly finding the need that our clients have and supplying a solution, educating and allowing people to build the trust in us as consultants and get the comfortability with our products that will truly help their practice) and instead might lead people to push where they shouldn’t, or move too quickly and then have to suffer the consequences of that decision later on.
I wonder, what if companies focused more on the creative, positive, and impactful activities of what their teams are doing and sent those updates out to the team? What if their focus wasn’t STRICTLY on the revenue? Would that incite a different type of competition? A competition to be the best consultant with the most innovative ideas because that’s what is being “flashed in the sky?” At the end of the day, companies have to make money, and keep their eye on the revenue. I understand this, I do have an economics degree. However, Carnegie once said “keep an eye on the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” I wonder what would happen if companies could look further into creating less of a Hunger Games feeling of competition, and more at creating an environment that thrives off innovation and collaboration.