I really do have a problem. I LOVE escape rooms, and it’s a bit annoying to my friends and my husband. They will indulge me from time to time (insert eye-roll here), but what they don’t know is that I would go every day if I could. I’ve been to more than a dozen of them, and I never get tired of the concept. If you haven’t been to one, it goes a bit like this: you, along with a few of your friends, are locked in a room and are given one hour to escape. Through a series of puzzles and clues, you unravel the mystery and find your way out…if you’re lucky.
I was sitting here this morning – wishing we could go to an escape room today – but also pondering why it is that I am so addicted to them. I guess it’s pretty clear to me why. It’s the same reason I love playing trivia, watching “Jeopardy” and being super-competitive at board games. The secret isn’t earth-shattering; it’s pretty simple: I like to feel smart.
Escape rooms, to me, feel like reward, recognition, encouragement and engagement. It’s a prime example of that saying that dissatisfied employees passive-aggressively post so often on social media: A person who is appreciated will always do more than expected. Fundamentally, it’s just like training a dog – if the dog does what you ask of him, but he never gets a treat or a “good boy,” he will eventually stop doing it.
So, I guess I’m that dog. I need the treat. I need the “good girl.” And escape rooms are full of hundreds of those tiny carrots. I hold education and intelligence in high regard; and, therefore, I find value in personal rewards associated with these “traits.” In short, I want to be “told” I’m doing a good job; and when I get that over and over at an escape room when I solve one clue after another, I want to go back again and again.
Truth be told, I haven’t successfully escaped every room I’ve tackled. But I think that makes the reward even sweeter. I like the challenge. And I go back for more.
Every person – and every employee – is like this. They want you to find the things they value most about themselves and their efforts, and they want you to recognize them for it. Take a clue from escape rooms – people will repeatedly out-perform your expectations if you give them that code, that nugget, that reward, that compliment or that thank you that they are seeking.
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