Competition drives business. Your employees are already competing for bids and projects with other companies. But what about competition within the company? A little inter-office rivalry is a great way to improve customer service, which often leads to a higher profit margin. Remember those gold stars the teacher would award in elementary school? Remember how many students worked harder simply because those shiny stickers were tracking their progress? Now imagine transferring that sense of consistent improvement and achievement to your workforce—what might your employees accomplish as they reach for those gold stars? Acknowledging excellence among your employees also communicates that employee engagement is critical in creating great customer experiences.
Here are three ways to foster friendly competition among your employees.
1. Post positive customer feedback.
It is important for businesses to make the most of the positive feedback from customers. Post employee kudos to a central location, and offer a prize for whoever gets the most positive comments. Emphasizing the positive is crucial in today's business economy. According to a recent New York Times article, being upbeat is one of the most important characteristics in a leader in the current recession. Posting positive customer feedback keeps the office environment positive, and encourages employees to keep up their good work.
2. Reward teamwork.
One of the pitfalls of fostering competition among employees is the potential to lose track of the importance of teamwork. Incentive programs can turn on managers if employees become reluctant to share information with their peers. To combat negative competition, set up a program to reward and acknowledge teamwork and to promote the voice of the employee. This could be as simple as asking each employee to share how a peer made their day easier. If you have a daily directional meeting in which employees describe their current workload and challenges, ask them to also give a kudo to a peer. This kind of public acknowledgment is often enough to motivate employees to keep helping each other.
3. Turn it into a game.
The workplace does not have to be a drag. Certainly, work must be done, but why not make it fun? Create a game to recognize your employees' accomplishments, and you could find a lighthearted air moving through your offices. Perhaps you'll design a board game in which teams of coworkers compete against each other. Or you could send out a pop quiz about your company's core values. Some companies are even using sophisticated video games and simulation programs to train managers. Whatever you do, make sure that your game ends with everyone winning. Avoid dividing your employees into winners and losers-- try to find unique ways to reward each player.
Let your creativity thrive as you design your system for friendly competition. Do ensure that whatever program you create is practical from a cost and time perspective. Don't offer to send all of your managers to six weeks of business school if the company can't afford to have them gone that long, for instance. Finally, keep the lines of communication open as you implement your plan. Your employees will have excellent feedback about how to improve your incentive program to keep it fresh and improve employee engagement.
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Posted on 03-27-2009