Using Competition to Sharpen Your Edge

Sky Capriolo

Competition in the workplace

Yes, some people can be too competitive. It can be seen as a turn-off. This blog, however, is going to give reasons why competition, when done in a healthy manner, is great for business and personal growth.

Competition as a Motivator

OxygenMag.com says competition actually helps boost our capacity to learn and thrive. In addition, it’s a great motivator. We see the latter to be especially true in many of our Motivation Excellence programs. Whether the reward is an amazing group travel experience or a points-based program where earners can spend those points on almost anything they desire, programs with leaderboards amp up the excitement and the results. 

Pat Benninger, one of our Senior Program Managers, works with our clients and their participants daily. In one program, where a major flooring company’s channel distributors were competing for a group travel award to a brand-new resort in Mexico, Benninger says the competition increased engagement.

“I had participants sending me emails regularly checking their sales to make sure they were ranking correctly. Did it increase competition? Yes!”

Shannon O’Shaughnessy, another Senior Program Manager, agrees, saying recognizing top performers publicly is a great result of using leaderboards in her programs. But there are many other benefits for her clients. 

“We can do a lot of cool things with leaderboards, such as filtering and toggles to show different leaderboard views based on participant type, company, hierarchy levels or other tracking elements. This competitive information helps our clients’ sales teams utilize customer information and help spur more competition among them.”

One final example of using competition in the incentive world comes from a longtime client in the fencing industry who shared that during the last month of a program period his sales team gets calls daily from their customers looking not only for their rank on the leaderboard but how close they are to taking over the spot above them. The reward for this group is an all-expense paid travel experience with other high-achieving fencing contractors around the country. Top-notch entertainment, access to the executive team and valued vendors all add to the incredible reward. 

Keeping it Friendly

As stated earlier, there are some people who see competition with dingy dismay colored glasses. Bustle.com writes that when it comes to your career though, some healthy competition can take you a long way. They list seven ways to be more competitive in the workplace, without being a jerk (so important!). Among them are using competition to push yourself out of your comfort zone and figuring out what makes you different from your most inspirational coworker. 

Back in the OxygenMag.com article mentioned earlier, the author suggests four steps to employ to keep the challenge fun and friendly.

  1. Pre-plan: spell out the rules, timeline and touchpoints
  2. Pick the prize: does the winner get something special?
  3. Track your progress: the challenge should be pushing you toward some goal
  4. Reality check: don’t be afraid to reassess and reframe the competition if it’s getting too hard, or a lost friendship might be in the balance

It’s Not About Coming in First

I know, that seems a bit counterintuitive, but you can be in a competition and not place all the emphasis on winning. The goal should be to beat yourself. Outperform your last quarter’s sales. Run a mile in less time. Give out more compliments this month. 

Quite simply, you may end up in a competition where the natural talent of your competitors will always outscore you. That’s when you really need to look at personal improvement over comparisons to others. As long as you are moving ahead, you’re winning! Even if you come in 2nd, 3rd or dead last…if you improved over the last result, you’ve used competition to your advantage. 

Competition drives us to be better. It helps businesses innovate and individuals meet goals. Whether you’re going up against colleagues, friends or yourself, being in a competitive challenge keeps you motivated and helps ward off complacency. Even if you’ve never thought that being competitive is part of your natural genes, start implementing some of the strategies you’ve read here and see how they work for you!