4 Do’s and Don’ts for Healthy Workplace Competition

I recently went into a FedEx Kinko’s store and heard the sales associate say to the guy in line in front of me (who was mailing a package) “Just want to be sure it’s not a UPS package.”

I thought “Oh my goodness! Why would someone bring a UPS package to a FedEx store?” When it was my turn in line, I asked her about it. She said it happens all the time! If you work in the overnight shipping business, you don’t go anywhere near a FedEx store if you wear an all-brown uniform. Competition is taken extremely seriously when margins are razor-thin.

Healthy competition drives people to stretch, grow and ultimately succeed in ways they didn’t know they could. Without adjusting to competition in the marketplace, companies get complacent (see: Kodak). Other famous marketplace competitions consumers probably recognize include:

Without some form of competition in the workplace, people get complacent too. WARNING: You must channel your competitive juices positively.

Check out these four Do’s and Don’ts for healthy competition in the workplace:

  • Do keep learning at all times. If you have to master all of the levels on Angry Birds (like your kids did two weeks ago), then that same drive can help you in a continuous professional learning environment. What new technology do you need to add to your bag of tricks at the office? What new media can you introduce to your communications campaign?
  • Don’t create unnecessary conflict with your co-workers by turning everything into a competition. Who gives the update first in a staff meeting, or who arrives first to the conference room do not matter. Focus on what drives business results, not all of the activities underway.
  • Do write down your goals and review your progress toward them regularly. This is not hard to do, but the simple idea has very powerful consequences. See what Emily Bennington has to say about it in her book, Effective Immediately. She advises all recent college graduates to do it, but it really applies to everyone in the workplace.
  • Don’t get discouraged and feel like you have to leave the company if your plans don’t immediately come to fruition. There may be a bigger picture at play you can’t see. Your manager may have something else in mind for you that takes longer. Give it some time before jumping ship. In the meanwhile focus on how you can continue to improve your skills.

Use competition in a healthy way – the same way Coke, Pepsi, Pampers, Huggies, Ford and Chevy do!

Betsy Winkler is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1 or connect by email at bwinkler@www.people-results.com.