It happens. Colleagues compete for rewards, attention, or kudos. Sometimes it's OK, other times it's not. Watch for these nuggets and see which side of the ledger your team is on:
When competition is good –
* Raises the level of play across an entire team
* Can build teamwork when team members help each other be successful
* Can be effective when rewards are given out fairly
When competition isn't so good –
* Can be divisive when a manager uses competition as a means of humiliating other team members
* Can be unhealthy when rewards for outstanding performance are too scarce – there are too few rewards for too many people
* Can be counter-productive when team members view competition as win-lose
Best practices for both encouraging and discouraging competition –
* Create a “Help others be successful” reward, where team members are rewarded based on innovative ways they have helped a teamate be more successful on a project or task.
* Post team results on a visibility board or website for the entire team to see. Just make sure there is a level playing field and that each team member has an equal opportunity to compete.
* Do not reward competition by taking something away from someone else. Make the reward additive, not subtractive.
* Do not reward (better yet admonish) win-lose competition where someone wins at another’s expense.
* Provide opportunity for the entire team to share in a reward if everyone meets a specific goal
* Never compare one employee or team to another, it’s similar to a parent saying “Why can’t you be like your brother Jeffy?”
Lonnie Pacelli has over 20 years’ experience with Accenture and Microsoft and is currently president of Leading on the Edge™ International. Lonnie's books include “The Project Management Advisor: 18 Major Project Screw-Ups and How to Cut Them Off at the Pass" and “The Truth About Getting Your Point Across". Get the books, leadership products, other articles, MP3 seminars and a free email mini seminar at http://www.leadingonedge.com