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Understanding the Rules of the Game

By Jeri T Dennston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International   11/8/2012

Takeaways: Understanding the rules of the game and making the game fun for everyone encourages staff participation, buy-in, and stay-in. Bosses have to play the game, too.

This is part 3 of my review of some concepts Michael Gerber shares in his book, The E-Myth.

Previously, I mentioned that the key to ensuring your staff performs the way you expect is to set up a Game that exemplifies the values and behavior you expect. I said that YOU as the owner and Boss must first ACT and MODEL the behavior you want your staff to exhibit.

Gerber goes on to list what he calls The Rules of the Game: Michael Gerber and The E-Myth Revisited

  1. Never figure out what you want your people to do and then create a game out of it. IF it’s to be seen as serious, the game has to come first.
  2. Never create a game for your people that you’re unwilling to play yourself. They’ll never let you forget it.
  3. Make sure there are specific ways of winning the game without ending it. The game can never end or it will take the life out of your business. But there must be victories in the process which are celebrated, to keep your staff engaged and to make the game appealing.
  4. Change the game from time to time – the tactics, NOT the strategy. The strategy is its ethics, the moral underpinning of your game’s logic. Watch your people. Their results will tell you when the game’s all but over and it’s time to change. The trick is to anticipate the end BEFORE anyone else does, and change it by executive action. Persist even when you get push back at first. Your persistence will move them through their resistance into a more lively game.
  5. Never expect the game to be self-sustaining. People do what you INSPECT, not what you EXPECT. They must be reminded often. At least once a week create a meeting about the Game. Once a day, make an issue about an exception to the way the game has been played and make certain everyone knows about it. Remind your staff often about the Game they’re playing with you.
  6. The game has to make sense. An illogical game will die before it ever gets off the starting blocks. It has to be built around universal truths that everyone can see and understand.
  7. The game needs to be fun from time to time. Plan the fun into your Game. Most games are NOT fun, so the challenge is learning how to deal with the “not fun” parts of the game so you retain your dignity while making mistakes. Fun needs to be defined by your people, so get them involved in making it Fun, something they look forward to.
  8. If you can’t think of a good game, steal one. Anyone’s ideas are as good as your own. But if you steal someone else’s game, learn it by heart, and, if necessary, give them credit.

In the case of the Hotel Venetia, the Game was about giving people what they want, listening to the needs of the customer and figuring out how to deliver those. That created the purpose behind the values or standards to live by.  What’s missing in many businesses is a sense of community and relationships. People want to connect with one another. By turning your business into a community where words like integrity, commitment, vision and excellence actually have meaning, you create a Game worth playing.

In the next article I’ll explore how you Play the Game.

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