Competition in the Workplace Done Right

Recognize This! – Sometimes the opportunity cost for relationship building across functions is worth it.

Do you encourage competition in the office? Typically, I advocate against direct competition among team members as too often unintended consequences occur along the lines of the good of the greater group being sacrificed for so the individual can “win.”

Instead, I prefer positive reinforcement through recognition – of individuals and teams – in which all who are successful at demonstrating desired behaviors “win.”

That doesn’t mean there is zero room for competition in the workplace, however. A member of my consulting team is an avowed US college basketball fan. She was telling me about March Madness how this spurs office competitions based on brackets. I understand our US-based colleagues are running one of these bracket competitions starting this week.

This kind of competition is healthy and actually serves to build camaraderie between people who may not usually interact with each other. As I chatted about this with my teammate, she mentioned research showing worker productivity drops, especially during the first week of March Madness.

In this end-of-a-busy-week post, I’m wondering – is that temporary drop in productivity worth the trade off in increased cross-functional employee interaction and possible boost in morale?

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