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Some Winning Thoughts on Competition
Some Winning Thoughts on Competition

Meet Katie, our newest Pivoteer. She’s here to help manage accounts and solve problems for our clients, and if you haven’t met her, you’re in for a treat. Katie likes Euchre, vacationing in Michigan, and all things college basketball.

Every year, I fill out my bracket with a strategy loosely based on gut feeling and a blind loyalty to the Big Ten conference. Maybe that explains why I’ve never picked a champion. But this year, I did the most liberating thing: for the first time since I can remember, I didn’t fill out a NCAA bracket.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a competitive face-off. When you have a twin (like I do), you’re basically born with competition in your blood. Throughout my life, competition has helped me push myself and given me something to aim for. And despite the negative connotation that competitiveness has gained in some circles, especially among women, a competitive spirit can have a significant, positive impact on a team. But there’s a fine line between healthy and unhealthy competition.

The question every competitor needs to ask

Some people are inherently competitive, and there’s no changing that. But a hyper-competitive team member who sees everyone else as a potential threat to his or her individual success will, in my experience, eventually drive everyone else to quit caring. A person like that kills the fun of the game. Because at the end of the day, the question every competitor needs to ask is: what am I playing for?

In some workplaces, the motivation is obvious. It’s for sales numbers, commissions, promotions. In other workplaces where the goals are less fixed, coworkers can compete for praise and recognition. And these are all worthy goals. But when individual successes take precedence over the betterment of the team, people tend to get discouraged and drop out of the competition all together.

Competing productively in the workplace

Players need goals and so do their teams. Otherwise, what’s the point of the game? In sports, that means spending time going through plays, understanding the rules, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and talking through the season’s objectives before setting foot on the court. In the office, we can do the same thing by opening up discussions about what we’re hoping for. The more daunting the goal, the more opportunity a team has to collaborate and compete productively.

Unhealthy competition is worried about what everyone else is doing. Healthy competition, on the other hand, is excited about what everyone else is doing. As Pivot’s newest account manager, I get to channel my competitive spirit into promoting the daily wins that my teammates achieve, and I get to push them to achieve even more. As for this year’s NCAA tournament, I’ll finally just get to watch the games without worrying about my bracket.