What is the Problem with Competitive Awards in our Sharing Economy?

“Isn’t this the best? I just love getting an award. Don’t you think everyone loves the competition and seeing the winners get the awards?”

“I know the winners love it. But remember, for every winner, you create many more losers.”

“You can’t think of it like that.”

“But isn’t it true?”

Many organizations love to have a competition and crown a “person of the year” but how does that competition erode the team spirit that creates disruptive innovation?

The old Industrial Age fostered competition between organizations. They pitted employee against employee and teams against teams. The old Theory X model of management believed employees would not work unless management forced them, so the competition was necessary. Employees, left to their own devices, were lazy and without the pressure would falter and under-perform.

But the Sharing Economy shattered that theory. While many people are still competitive, seeking to finish first or win the awards, collaboration is far more productive and far less expensive. The goal today is not just to sell a product but to build relationships where we can do what we never thought possible.

The Problem with Competition

Let’s be honest. Competition creates winners but even more losers.  For every winner created, there are far more who feel like losers and left feeling and thinking their contribution doesn’t matter. Some of the “losers” will try to compete but others will simply disengage, either settling into a “just survive” mentality or find another place to work. Meanwhile, the organization justifies fostering a “survival of the fittest” mentality, thinking they are doing it right, attracting only the best employees. Never mind that their turnover is higher than it needs to be.

Competition for awards in the Sharing Economy disengages the very people we need to be the cutting edge.shame-mask-1027228_1920

Here’s the problem: Individual or team awards based on competition assumes that the winners or the teams did it on their own. The individual made more sales or the team produced more results without the help of others in the organization. In seeking the award, they purposely disengaged from their competition for that award. Instead of collaboration, the system fosters competition, assuming that is the best business model.

The best business model in the Sharing Economy is engagement to build relationships so that we can collaborate, innovate and ultimately disrupt. That is the blueprint for unleashing the ultimate performance, production and profits.

Competition restricts collaboration. At a time when relationships are driving innovation through connection, collaboration and creation, competition is an obstacle to cutting edge progress.

What do we do instead?

Here are 3 ways we can disrupt the competitive awards.

First, let’s celebrate all who contribute.

Quit singling out one winner. Those that finished second, third, fourth of fifth are still valuable contributors to our organizations.   Furthermore, let’s encourage those that produced less to learn from those that finished at the top. Then let’s celebrate their growth. Let’s work together to do more than we thought possible. (Note: we can still compensate differently while suspending competitive awards. That is a topic for another day.)

The world today thrives on reaching across previously forbidden boundaries. Where once we considered “those people” as enemies, now we collaborate with them to provide a valuable diversity of perspectives that make crazy ideas a reality. We think globally – not locally. No longer is it “us vs. them” but “we” and “us.” We have to foster that relationship building in every aspect of our management and organiation.

Second, let’s celebrate them publically.

Too often awards are given to positional leaders that don’t do the bulk of the work. We bring them up on stage and where they offer platitudes to their team and maybe even mention a few names. What a mistake!  The people who did the work (and may even have come up with the ideas) sit back while someone else gets all the credit. Can you imagine why they feel overlooked and think the company only cares about position leaders?

Compliment each person privately and immediately for their contribution but then, and here is the critical point, give them recognition publically.

Thrid, foster collaboration by telling the story of success.

Recount how it all happened, who was involved, the challenges they overcame and the resilience shown. As a leader, humbly deflect the glory to those in the trenches that you know made it happen. I know that is hard for many who believe their promotion entitles them to this egocentric accolade but leaders need to get out of the way and let others tell their story from the role they played.

Proper recognition engages the 72% that Gallup reports are disengaged. Even the person least involved played a necessary part. Celebrate that! Collaboration demands everyone play their part and that every role is important (and if not, eliminate that role.)

Whenever someone is recognized publicly, they feel valued and appreciated.

Collaboration thrives on engaging those who otherwise would be overlooked. Mine the hidden gems to create the disruptive innovation.

Remember, competition separates while collaboration connects. Celebrate all who contributed. Do more than just mention their names. Tell their story and why it is important.

Will this take more time? Definitely. Is it worth it? Absolutely, if you are interested in radical leaps instead of incremental growth.

Be B.O.L.D.

Be Decisive

Become the Disruptive Leader

I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to become disruptive leaders, doing the impossible by changing the paradigm of their thinking and telling powerful stories.  If that is your desire, contact me today.

Checkout my online leadership platform. Power University

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(c) Murfield International, Inc. 2017


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