A little friendly competition isn’t bad. It certainly can motivate and inspire. The spirit of competition is strong, it can create a lot of action. Workplace winning can cost a lot too. Have you assessed the price tag?
Set the goals. Feel the stretch. Size up the competition. Plan to win.
There are a few ways your workplace can become competitive.
The top salesperson.
Employee of the month.
The quest for recognition and illustrated appreciation.
Debates in meetings.
Pay by merit, not seniority or credentials.
Does your workplace support one or more of these motivational drivers? Internal competition is often friendly, yet it can also derail.
Some people will defer instead of compete. They will take a lose-win approach. Their mindset is, “I’m not going to win so I’ll make an excuse and lose.”
She has all the good accounts.
Bob is a workplace version of the teacher’s pet.
No one ever really observes my work; they don’t understand my contribution.
I’m not a quick thinker. I refuse to debate issues.
Jack has been here longer he should have a higher pay rate.
These are most likely opinionated excuses, not facts. When we set ourselves up to lose there is not any reason to do more or be more. Couple that with limited accountability by a supervisor and at best you have mediocrity.
The workplace winning continuum is broad. Mediocrity may mean complacency. On the other end of the scale inappropriate competition and the quest to win can derail team trust and commitment.
Both represent costs no organization can afford to pay.
Properly structured, internal competition can be a great morale booster. Strong teams win the prize. It is a win-win. The organization wins and so do the employees. Customers often win too.
This means one simple truth. The win is counterintuitive and expensive. A win-win-win is what you should seek.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.