Employee Training, Team-Building Turn Into A Game(show)
The emcee takes a step closer, pulls an oversized index card from the deck he’s holding, and reads the question aloud.
“For 100 points: What popular TV show format is helping Maine businesses train and motivate employees?”
You hesitate for an instant, then press a large round button on the podium in front of you. The emcee calls your name. Your heart races as you lean toward the microphone.
“Um… TV-style corporate game shows?”
Music plays, bells ring and lights flash as you give the correct answer. It’s an exciting television moment – except it’s not happening on TV. Actually, it’s being played out in a Brunswick company’s conference room, or a hotel ballroom in Central Maine. Players — the company’s employees — stand at a podium, just like on Jeopardy, and press a buzzer to answer a question.
Maine’s Alex Trebek
Brad Taylor of Limerick could be described as Maine’s version of Alex Trebek. As emcee and president of hi-NRG Entertainment, Taylor travels around the state — and as far south as Boston — with an authentic TV-style game show.
When Taylor puts on a show, it’s got all the glitter and flash of an authentic in-studio production: lively music, flashing lights, loudspeakers, electronic scoreboard, sound effects — all the bells and whistles (literally).
“The game show format is a natural magnet for people,” explained Taylor. “Everyone understands instantly how it works. Even if they’re not contestants, they play along in their minds and see if they know the correct answers. Because it’s so much fun, it’s a great way for a business to really connect and communicate with its employees, whether they’re presenting new information, motivating employees or fostering teamwork.”
Fun, Training, Team Building: games for all reasons
Taylor offers three distinct types of game shows for the corporate market. The first, obviously, is straight entertainment. The setting might be a company picnic, holiday party or employee appreciation event. “For these kinds of events, we’re there ‘just for fun’ — so everybody can have a good time,” he explained. Calvary Bible Church in Porter, for example, recently hosted a hi-NRG game show for its Valentine’s Day progressive supper.
Favorite themes at entertainment shows include Name That Tune, which utilizes Taylor’s extensive music collection, and the Maine Quiz, in which contestants answer questions about lobsters, lighthouses and the four seasons of Maine. (Winter, Still Winter, Mud Season and July.)
Employee training programs are the second type of game show format Taylor provides. “We’re not trainers,” Taylor stressed. “But our game show is a powerful tool for corporate trainers who want to enhance the effectiveness of their training. In many cases, the trainer acts as the game show host, and we simply provide the equipment and the technical expertise to operate it.”
In that context, the game show is an upbeat substitute for a written exam. It surveys the students’ knowledge, but in a much more entertaining way. “It’s a great way for companies to ‘top off’ a serious training session.”
Unlike a written exam, the game show format provides instant feedback — even before the students have left. The trainer knows immediately whether the audience “gets it” or not. And the question-and-answer format is perfect for re-explaining and emphasizing certain topics in a fun, morale-building style. “It really reinforces the learning that’s been covered in work sessions and strengthens product knowledge,” said Taylor. “Companies seem to love it.”
“Knowing in advance that there’s a quiz show at the end of the training motivates the employees to pay closer attention all through it,” he grinned. “They really want to get those answers correct.”
Team Building Techniques
The third type of game show blends entertainment with serious business goals. The focus is team building. The goal is to break down barriers and help people learn to work together as a team. Instead of transferring knowledge or getting laughs, the goals are psychological. “We try to involve people on many different levels, motivating them to interact and get to know each other better.”
Each employee becomes a member of a team, with no more than 10 or 12 per team. Each team member team must accept at least one of the challenges assigned to their team. Team members quickly find themselves coaxing and cheerleading each other. “It’s important that each member succeed and score on their individual task. It’s the only way for that team to win.” Taylor explained that this forces team members to think strategically and aid the team.
“Bonding is crucial,” he said. “They have to bond, so they’ll want to work together.” As they work together on their challenges, team members notice and appreciate each other’s intelligence and skills, the gifts their teammates possess. This awareness can immediately be applied back in the workplace.
“It’s pretty eye-opening to discover that Charlie, for example, has a real gift for language, and that Elizabeth has terrific design sense, or that Gary has incredible knowledge of American history – things you didn’t even know about them,” Taylor continued. “Back in the workplace, that initial bond grows deeper as they find they can call on each other as resources. As a team, the employees become closer, and enjoy their job more. The whole operation runs more smoothly, and the company wins big.”
“It’s win-win for everybody.”
Last May, at the Maine Human Resources Convention held at the Samoset Resort, hi-NRG’s game show delighted business owners, managers and Human Resource Directors.
“It was a good presentation,” said Susan Carlin of Community Concepts, a social services agency in South Paris. “Very professional and a lot of fun.” Carlin, a Human Resources support specialist, said she and her coworkers were first attracted by the appearance and sense of fun the game show radiated.
“We all started playing along, first in the audience and later on stage as contestants,” she said. “I said I’d go up only if my boss would, too,” she laughed.
Susan and her boss, Director of Operations Michael Burke, did go up and play the game. As a result, Community Concepts will soon be putting on their own hi-NRG TV-style game show at an upcoming Maine Community Action Association conference.
“Accomplishing serious business goals doesn’t have to be a somber experience,” Taylor said. “Whether the aim is corporate training, team building or pure entertainment, we make the experience more fun.” He paused, leaning on the podium.
“People love to have fun.”Your business could be in the media spotlight, too. Contact Tom McKay for more information.