Is Internal Competition Good?

Lonnie Pacelli

Visitors: 400

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


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