Creating a Positive Competitive Workplace Culture

Two annoyed businesspeople having an arm wrestling sitting around a tableIn a recent Refresh Leadership poll, we asked our readers how friendly competition among co-workers affects their productivity. More than 52% of respondents said competition was a big motivator, followed by 22% who said it stresses them out more than it motivates.

From two teams competing against each other to be the first to solve a tricky problem to senior employees vying for a promotion, competition among co-workers comes in many forms. Fostering an environment of healthy competition can be a very powerful motivator and help drive innovation and creativity.

However, if left unchecked, healthy competition can quickly turn into negativity. As a leader, you can create a positive competitive environment by keeping a few tips in mind.

Humans are competitive by nature. Even if it’s something as silly as who gets to sit in the front seat of the car, we’ll find a way to make it a competition. In general, this kind of one-upmanship can be written off as harmless fun. However, it’s important to at least be aware of competitive situations in the workplace. What may start as an innocent game among co-workers can quickly devolve into animosity if taken too far. Your best bet is to harness the competitive energy and use it to the company’s advantage.

A competitive workplace can be very productive, provided the competition is focused in the right direction. As a leader, it’s important to help your teams define a mutually agreed upon goal to work toward. With a concrete target to aim at, it will be easier for your teams to focus their efforts on a goal that not only creates engagement in the process, but also helps drive the company’s success.

Setting parameters for workplace competition is necessary to guarantee a fair fight and ensure overall company goals are not overlooked in the competitive excitement. Establishing a timeline with several key milestones along the way helps maintain productivity, keep projects on track, and maintains the competitive spirit.

What’s a competition without at least a small token of achievement? Although fostering a competitive work environment is first and foremost about encouraging your employees to put forth their best work to help build the company, offering a reward for their hard work helps validate all the extra effort. From cash incentives to public recognition, there are many ways to show appreciation and give your employees some bragging rights for a hard-fought victory.

How do you foster a competitive environment in your workplace? How do you ensure the competition among employees doesn’t get out of hand? Let us know in the comments section below.

3 Responses to Creating a Positive Competitive Workplace Culture

  1. Tanya September 20, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    The so called competition where I work revolves around the individual offices/states. Mainly Montana vs Utah and far as I’m concerned it is not healthy. Instead of causing us to rise to the challenge it has spiraled down to we’re better than them mentality. I’m personally caught in the middle because I’m in charge of the A/P for Utah but the main office is in Montana so I hear all the time the nasty comments about how dumb they are in Utah and how they do things wrong there all the time and how much superior Montana is. Instead of nipping this in the bud the higher ups either ignore the comments or egg the speaker(s) on.


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