Greetings fellow MT Managers!

My bosses want to have a contest to improve performance of production (I am a production manager). I am not convinced this is a good idea, or a reasonable way to get improved performance Seems to me that once the "contest" is over, performance could suffer. It could artificially inflate metrics. It could create animosity between "contestants" whose performance depends on others, who they are competing against. The winners will be announced at our monthly "All Company" meeting, which will prop up the winners and possibly further humiliate the losers, if not handled tactfully.

Obviously I'm biased. I don't want to go against my management, who think this is a brilliant idea! :roll: What would you do?

HMac's picture

Your concerns are well-founded.

I have some experience with contests from my days as a sales manager. I learned that the most effective contests were ones that allowed for an infinite number of winners (for example, every person who beat their personal best for monthly production was a winner - and the more winners, the merrier).

I also found that the most meaningful rewards were ones that people could use on their own - for example, I'd treat the winner to dinner for two with their significant other - just bring me the check, and I'd reimburse them. This was a bit contrary to the trend to organize events at work to recognize contest winners. But who really wants to go to a conference room for another piece of cake?

Try to support the aims of the competition with suggestions that will 1) increase teamwork along with production, and 2) not create "winners" at the expense of "losers."

Good luck!


jgfellow's picture


Sorry for the late post, but I find the topic interesting.

I'm not a devout follower of DISC, but I think that a DISC type of analysis may help you consider your situation. Some folks do tend to respond well to contests; others don't.

I've never had any luck with contests, but I am not a production manager -- I manage Research. But my partners in the sales organization can't get enough of contests. And they have had excellent results to show for them.

To play amateur psychologist, I suspect that your bosses are the types who would respond well to that kind of competition. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you wouldn't.

Given that some folks really do respond well to that kind of challenge, it might make sense to look at your directs and consider into which category they fall.

If you end up going with the competition, I do second HMac's suggestions: challenge them to beat their own record and reward them flexibly.

Good luck!

wonderfig's picture

I believe in the contest. Goals are important and offering a reward for hitting them is even better.
One contest type I've always found useful is the collaborative contest where eveyone pulls for a goal and everyone gets rewarded. It works great in sales and production since the metrics are easy to identify and it gets everyone working together to achieve the goal. The only real trick is finding what motivates everyone. I agree with HMac that rewards people can use on their own are best. Company parties and recognition meetings are pretty ineffective for all but super hi "I"s. But a gift cert. to a great restaurant or a great bottle of wine can get everyone excited. And no one loses or wins alone.

douglase's picture

goals and contests are different. I agree that they need to be contests that have infinite winners.

One goal that worked for me was the team had a work queue of 900, I set a goal of "300 Beers" which was PC'd into "300 Cheers". If my all of the 4 team could reduce one of the teams queue to 300, I would shout them $300 down at the local pub. I gave them a deadline and let them work out how they were going to do it.

And since I got that number from the team when I asked.. "So if you guys really bust your guts, how low do you think you can get" And then set it at that.

They did it. I payed up. It was great...