How to make healthy competition a part of your work culture


Most individuals are driven by intrinsic motivators to strive and succeed. However, in our intensely competitive marketplace, finding suitable talent and hiring the ‘right’ people is just the beginning. While being goal-oriented, prepared and delivering consistently high results are some desirable characteristics in employees, getting them to work together in a co-operative and collaborative environment can pose a bigger challenge. Here’s how you can make a culture that promotes healthy competition among your key stakeholders – your employees.

Image : shutterstock

Look ahead, together

Setting team goals and working towards achieving them together can be the first step. Higher management could lead by example. This promotes a sense of belonging and bonding. It drives your team to go the extra mile and help each other out without feeling threatened. This also allows them to learn from each other’s mistakes without compromising on the overall progress. Employee reward and recognition systems are known to encourage a competitive spirit in employees. General Electric, for instance, is known to have a policy of giving the pink slip to the bottom 10 percent of the workforce every year, not to harbour a fear of getting the boot, but to drive excellence. This leaves no space for complacency or resting on past laurels.

Have some fun

It need not be all work. Introducing fun activities for employees like paintball or impromptu foosball matches not only lightens the mood but also fosters competition in a friendly space. This encourages a sporting spirit that could well extend to workstations and boardroom meetings. This also brings down personal barriers while learning to overcome setbacks and harnesses individual strengths for the company’s success.

Counter-productive aspects

All said and done, it is imperative to keep tabs on how initiatives are being received by employees. Is it about who gets first to the staff meeting? Are your employees busy trying to beat each other instead of your business competitors? Is there a sense of responsibility and ownership? Asking such pertinent questions and evaluating employee performance from time to time could be the key to avoiding things getting out of hand, and the onus is on you to do so. Ensure transparency at the workplace to create a more trusting environment. This will ensure that competition is friendly and not bring negativity and resentment into the picture.

All for one and one for all

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace,” says Doug Conant, author and leadership guru. Nurturing a sporting, yet fighting spirit makes employees put in their best every single day on their own and as a team. It drives innovation and sets the company onto a growth path. Unlike running through like a horse with blinkers, encouraging open discussions will bring more ideas and different perspectives to the table. Be it a manufacturing plant or a software industry, no matter what your niche is, personal motivators are necessary for individual and team success. Introducing healthy competition alongside such winning teamwork can prove to be the game-changer for your business.

Do you have a competitive work culture? Do tell us your experiences.


Updates from around the world