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gotcha-2In Gotcha, people act as if they receive points for identifying and communicating others' mistakes. This game is more likely to occur in companies that foster individual rather than collective recognition and that promote internal competition among employees to increase productivity.


Mistakes are seen as an opportunity to criticize others and put them down, and thus people hide mistakes rather than use them as learning opportunities. Also, any criticism will be seen as an attack, rather than as an opportunity for improvement.

Example: One CEO's favorite game was to go through "prereads" of presentations and try to identify the mistakes in advance. During the presentation, he would point out that "on page twenty-six, bullet point three is inconsistent with the data table on page seventeen." Even when the presenter was able to defend the inconsistency, the CEO would identify another and then another after that until he "caught" the presenter. Invariably, too much time and attention would be focused on analyzing the inconsistency, and the more important points the presenter was making were often lost.

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Games of the Month

Token Involvement

To play Token Involvement, a manager conducts opinion surveys, focus group, or involvement meetings to communicate that "your opinion matters", but these activities are done only to make people feel involved rather than actually to involve them. The real intention is just to get rid of the complaints and for managers to show their management that they´re doing the "right" thing-involving their people in the decision-making process. The same game is played when leaders involve their direct reports supercially, soliciting their views on department strategy but relying exclusively on their views on department strategy but relying exclusively on thei own view. Cynicism becomes employees´ultimate response to this game, and they lose respect for management. Perhaps evens worse, when management really needs employees to be committed and contribuing to a major project, they have great difficulty securing this involvement.


Praise for Games at Work

jacopoA terrific read not only for senior leaders and executives but also for employees seeking growth in complex organizations. Goldstein and Read dissect the interpersonal dynamics that affect a company’s performance, provide a framework to understand the games that are commonly played in businesses around the world, and offer practical tools to correct these behaviors and improve the organization’s effectiveness.

Jacopo Bracco Executive Vice President DIRECTV Latin America

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