Is it advantageous propagating competition in the workplace or is it counterproductive? For many the answer to this question is simple – yes. Many like getting challenged. It’s boring when work turns into a monotonous routine. A competitive atmosphere is mostly beneficial.
The following are arguably the most compelling reasons why workplace competition should not be treated as a problem but something that should be harnessed.
Increased or Improved Output. One of the most pronounced advantages of competition in the workplace is the increased output. Competition is mostly about numbers and there’s no better way to show superiority in numbers than through output or production. The company benefits from everyone’s goal of trying to outdo each other. Consequently, everybody gets to reap some benefit as company profits increase or at the very least the profitability of a company is ensured.
Promoting Self-improvement. A competitive environment has the ability to bring out the best in people. It encourages or even forces an employee to level up. Bonuses or rewards can help bring employees to his or her “A game” but with internal competition, the results may even be better. Competition can encourage employees to enhance their skills, obtain new skills, change their disruptive habits, veer away from procrastination, and stay focused to achieve goals and be ahead.
Encouraging Creativity and Innovation. In a competition, it is natural for everyone to want to gain some form of advantage over others. That’s why creativity, innovation, and the drive to become more efficient are stimulated. Processes and systems could get streamlined or shortened as everyone strives to cut time on the work done or to be more effective in reaching targets. Everyone tries to find creative ways to solve a problem or improve the efficiency of a process.
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that not everything in workplace competition is good. Competition also has its disadvantages. It can create unnecessary rivalries that become counterproductive. It can adversely affect relationships among employees. It can create silos wherein certain groups or individuals refuse to share whatever productivity-improving system or approach they have for the fear of being outcompeted. Moreover, as everyone focuses on output or production numbers, work quality may be disregarded.
To avoid these disadvantages, the following should be taken into account:
Emphasizing Teamwork and Collective Goals. Workplace competition should be a healthy one. It’s important for everyone to remember that everybody is working for the same goals. The success of the company is everybody’s success. A cutthroat environment should be avoided.
Being Open and Transparent. Internal competition will never be healthy if employees suspect that some are given special treatment or if the managers are playing favorites. To avoid this kind of competition, it’s important to be transparent. There should be clear metrics or a verifiable gauge of performance.
Giving Employees What is Needed and What They Deserve. It’s not enough that competition is sparked and everyone in the company is just made to fend for themselves. This is not the idea of creating healthy internal competition that promotes ingenuity. One good example to illustrate this point is the case of promoting telecommuting among those who have been newly hired for a certain project. While it is true that there are those who prefer working from home through the Internet, not everybody can be expected to become productive with this kind of setup. If the goal is simply to save on operating expenses, it would be a good idea getting coworking spaces or hot desks.
Making the Experience Fun. It is essential to make the whole experience fun and exciting. There should be active efforts to foster a spirit of friendly competition and to ensure that everyone is enjoying the idea of competing with each other. For example, awards and rewards should be given in such ways that others are encouraged and not frustrated. It’s not a good idea offering an enviable prize to the top producer for the month when it usually happens that the second or third in rank or around a dozen other employees have produced numbers that are only marginally lower than that of the top producer. The minute difference can frustrate other employees.
Despite the disadvantages or potential pitfalls, it can be said that internal competition in the workplace, more often than not, is beneficial. A competitive company culture is mostly advantageous for everyone. It’s just important to properly handle it. The competition should be carefully guided to augment teamwork and not to supplant it.