December 11th, 2012 by Mike Smalls


4 Ways to Promote Friendly Competition at Work

4 ways to promote friendly workplace competitionCitius, Altius, Fortius

The Olympic motto–Latin for faster, higher, stronger–need not apply only to sports. Many sales managers seek ways to increase their employees’ productivity, encourage them to sell more or handle greater call volume, or improve the quality of their work. One way to motivate your employees to achieve more is the same way the Olympics bring out the best in athletes: competition.

While competition isn’t ideal for all employees, it’s a great option for sales organizations, which usually attract workers who are more outgoing and have resilient egos. These personalities thrive on a little friendly office competition. Here are four ways to promote friendly competition at work, making your workplace faster, higher, and stronger through competition:

1.  Recognize winners publicly.
Honoring your employees’ accomplishments (e.g., meeting quotas, closing big sales) in front of their coworkers can energize the whole team by motivating everyone to perform well and earn similar kudos. Making each team member’s performance publicly through leader boards or other tools adds further fuel to the fire, as the rest of the team or even the entire company (in the case of data integration software company Informatica) grows more involved in everyone’s performance.

2.  Promote fair play.
Friendly competition can descend into resentment if the playing field is uneven. Make sure rewards are available to all who perform and that the criteria for topping a leader board or taking home a prize are clearly defined. This ensures that everyone knows the rules and perceives the game as fair, but also that you’ve defined what aspects of the job you’re trying to encourage employees to perform better.

3.  Keep an eye on larger objectives.
Any workplace competition must align with company and team goals. The best competitions promote behaviors that hold strategic importance for the company, but might not be the most exciting tasks to perform. Adding a friendly rivalry can bring much-needed fun into the picture that encourages workers to complete these tasks quickly and effectively. So don’t just implement competition for its own sake; make sure it’s focused and directed toward improving specific team actions.

4.  Add team competition along with individual competition.
Salespeople definitely enjoy the personal satisfaction and recognition that comes with beating one of their colleagues. However, being able to contribute to the success of a team can be even more satisfying. Be sure to add a team element when fostering competition to maximize the impact.

Obviously, some employees may bristle at competition in the workplace. But, if you manage workers with an innate competitiveness, you can use that to your advantage to draw out their best effort. When properly implemented, competition can increase productivity, encourage quality, and drive employees to perform like champions every day.

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Mike Smalls

About Mike Smalls

Mike has more than 25 years of experience in the technology industry as a sales executive at several startups, and as a leader of a variety of teams at larger companies. Prior to Hoopla, Mike was Executive Vice President at ClickEquations, a SaaS paid search platform for large advertisers and agencies. In 2004, he joined the founding team of Turntide, an innovative anti-spam company, as VP of Sales. TurnTide was acquired by Symantec, where Mike became Director of Emerging Products Sales. Earlier in his career, Mike held sales management roles at innovative startups like Destiny Software and Kurant (acquired by eBay), and at Symantec as it grew from $50 million to over $650 million in sales.

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