The number of blogs, articles, and studies on the benefits of contests to motivate your team are endless (there are even a couple of blogs from us on the topic). This is great because the studies don’t lie. People are competitive. Contests not only push your team to do their best, they also make the workday fun and challenging. There is one slippery slope, sometimes healthy competition turns toxic. How? When contests only reward and encourage top performers.
In any team, there are top, middle, and bottom performers. Although contests are great for motivating every tier to do their best, the bottom performers are going to get demotivated after seeing the same people win week after week. This is why that contests need a makeover — they shouldn’t be just about wins. Here are some ways that you can use contests to motivate more than just the best people on your team week to week.
Reward based on most improved
This can be for two different types of team members; the ones who have been struggling, and the ones who are new to the organization. Designing contests around performance improvements instead of hitting the same team goal is a great solution to this challenge. Look at your individual team members performance over the last month. Set personal goals for each, and then track their percentage to goal as the week continues. This takes away all of the glory from the high performers and recognizes those that are really improving but still aren’t reaching the pinnacle.
Encourage those who aren’t on top
This can be done in a number of ways. The simplest would be to give out rewards for not just first place, but second and third as well. This shows your team that you are recognizing everyone’s contributions, even if they aren’t on top. Getting a smaller prize for winning second or third can also act as a motivator to try harder the next week and win that bigger prize.
Also, take more time with the reps that you notice are struggling to hit their numbers. Being last in every contest can have a major negative effect on your team members and positive encouragement can help keep that at bay. Really take time to examine not only what they are struggling with but the reason behind their struggle. This shows your team that you care and that they are able to improve.
Don’t make every contest about “wins”
Contests can be made around a variety of goals and key performance indicators. Try changing up the goals of your contests from the usual. Do you typically focus on new business meetings? Try focusing on calls instead. This can work to reward those who are stronger at specific skills while also opening management’s eyes to who is excelling and who is struggling depending on the goal. Not only will this give an inside look into exactly where each member is excelling (or struggling), it will also show your team that all behaviors matter and are being recognized and rewarded.
With that, go forth and create contests that are useful and motivational to your entire team! Although competition is a great motivator, it is not always the best way to improve performance across the board. Ensuring that your whole team is involved, encouraged, and on track is key to closing the year strong.
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