Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Once you have agreed on a budget and achievable results with your own Powers That Be, and have committed to holding a contest,  you can move forward with the details. What behaviors do you want to elicit? Which ones do you want to eradicate?

Rule number one is to reward the positive in any contest. Never attempt to punish the negative. See 01.17.16 blog

For example, perhaps starting time is 8 AM for everyone, and you are not achieving compliance. Rather than disciplining late arrivals, consider holding an impromptu Mini Contest. One morning you announce, at 8:30, “The following people were already seated at their stations at 7:59 this morning. Their reward is…” and now it’s up to your own ingenuity and knowledge of the rewards they value, such as:

·         They have earned an extra 15 minutes for lunch today.
·         They may choose a prize from your reward box.
·         Or maybe you simply hang a WINNER! sign at their station for the day.

Hint: You wait until 8:30 AM so that the late arrivals hear the praise. When they explain that they didn’t know, or produce an excuse for their tardiness, you respond with assurances that they will have other opportunities~~and make sure there are other opportunities for them to earn rewards and recognition.

You know your budget, your staff, and your challenges, so let your knowledge guide the process. Craft your contest rules with great precision. Give yourself loopholes in case you have inadvertently written a rule that sends you over budget, or that doesn’t produce the desired results.

Compute some variables: Is the contest challenging enough for your team to have to stretch? Are there rewards for your reps who may not be stellar, but who are steady and dependable? Are the top prizes reasonably attainable? What does it cost you if you have several top prize winners? What are your worst and best case scenarios? Before you announce the criteria, run your stats~~and then run them again.

Transparency and immediacy are key. Post updates as soon as they occur. Make statistics available at appropriate intervals, and continue to discuss their progress with them in positive terms. 

A successful contest is one that unites the group, rather than separates them. Each member of your team  surely excels at something, has some particular talent or quality that makes them valuable to the department. Celebrate them, and watch their contributions soar.

And remember: You are always the ultimate winner of any successful contest you hold!

Jeannie Newman, Chief Solutions Officer of JZN Associates, is an experienced creator of many successful and fun-filled department contests, across several different industries. She is available to  advise you on your contests, and to save you from pitfalls both obvious and hidden. Connect with her on LinkedIn or at


  1. Jeannie, Thank you for that contribution. I appreciate the simplicity and as you said transparency of the 7:59 contest. Can you give some examples of ones you have used in the past? Thanks in advance for sharing them.

  2. Great ideas and works better than threats!