Tap into people’s competitive spirit to drive up performance

How much is $2 really worth these days? Yesterday, the $2 that I received from my golf buddy Jeff Gilles was PRICELESS! After18 holes in pleasant mild weather, at a brisk pace of four hours, he had to hand over those $2 for our skins game.

Now, I don’t want to come across as a bad winner, but please understand that Jeff had been taking my money on a weekly basis for the last two golf seasons. After each round, he would remind me that I was younger, in better shape, and had participated in more sporting activities throughout my life. He would do this in his dry sort of way. Ouch.

So, okay, I’m being ungentlemanly after my one-time unexpected victory. For those who know that I can be competitive at times, this obnoxious behavior is no big surprise. Once when losing to my brother down a ski run, I tried to dive and roll into him so he wouldn’t beat me. Luckily, I’ve mellowed out since then, but still do enjoy a good competition.

Most everyone in their own way enjoys some level of competition. It’s in our nature as human beings. Therefore, bringing well thought-out, productive competition to the work place can be very motivating.

Obviously, sales teams have long used competition to motivate their people. Unfortunately, organized competition is less common outside of sales. In a service company, everyone is involved in sales regardless of titles. So, tapping into people’s desire for some competition can be very productive.

One way is to be transparent with the weekly financial performance and the organizational KPI’s. At ZeroDash1, we put all this information on our intranet Sharpoint site. When hitting certain goals and targets, the team wins and gets rewarded.

If you manage assertive, bright people, leveraging competitive contests can improve financial performance, encourage team-building, and produce accountability and ownership of the group’s overall performance by everyone.

Yes, yes, everyone knows this already, but how many managers really take that “strategic” time to come up with constructive competition that motivates desired results throughout the organization? Not many, I would presume.