Project Practitioners > If Not Experience, Then What? Part 2

If Not Experience, Then What? Part 2

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


Last week, competency was discussed as a Moneyball characteristic of an undervalued team member. This week, competition is another characteristic that has definitive impacts on performance. Remember, this is a war on experience. No one cares how long you have worked or done the same task. Competition matters when it comes to experience.


“We don’t keep score.” WHAT?!


No matter the circumstance, be it little league sports or business, someone is always keeping score. Sure, the scoreboard may be shut off, and no one is writing the numbers down, but trust me, someone is keeping score. Eliminating the scoreboard does not eliminate competition. People know who is better just by looking.


A kid’s parent knows he or she had 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists. The child would have had more, but the team is not very good. Always someone else’s fault. The people not keeping score are usually the ones whose impact means the least. Their child is the one picking flowers in the outfield happy he or she is outdoors.


Competition is here to stay. And with competition, comes hierarchy. This idea is popularized by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. A hierarchal society exists so long competition exists. There will always be someone better. Be it the day, the week, or the year, competition decides who is best in that given period. That is what makes upsets so surprising and exciting.


Competition makes people better. If you want the top spot, you have to earn it. No one is going to let you beat them because your feelings will get hurt if you do not. The top person has a combination of work ethic, ability, and mental fortitude to earn the mountain top.


Project managers have teams. Teams are linked through competition. Maybe you do not keep track of how many projects are awarded by who estimated them, but someone in that group does. Maybe you do not track how productive one operator is over another, but someone in that group does. While team success is important, individuals constantly compare themselves to the others in the group.


If one technician is completing 30 work orders per week and the other is completing 20, yet both are getting paid the same, that is going to cause conflict at some point. It may not be the first year or two, but eventually, the more productive technician will find out how much more productive he or she is and want more compensation. If the reward is not there, you will start to watch the productive technician become less productive because the incentive no longer exists.


How does a project manager stoke healthy competition amongst his or her team?




Reward top performers. Sounds obvious but a paycheck is not the only requirement for a team member to be happy. A simple reward as a free lunch goes a long way. When I was a laborer in construction, some pizza and a t-shirt were a huge uplifter. You get a full belly plus another t-shirt you can ruin, what is better than that?


The same goes for a technician in the property management space. It is not enough to hand them keys to a company vehicle, clothe them in company swag, and pay them a salary. On top of that, why not offer a turnaround bonus of $10? You perform a work order in less than 24 hours, you get $10.


Simple, easy incentives go a long way. Telling someone to leave the office early on a Friday because they busted their ass all week shows you trust them to come back next week and perform similarly. Instead, companies want to ring the dishrag out so tightly you end up losing these individuals.


Because they get 50 hours of work done in 30 hours, imagine what they can do with a full 40 hours. Those last ten hours will not be as productive as the equation presents itself. And after a year or two, they will be gone.


Freedom may be an incentive for some. They have enough money and want to pick their kids up from school every day. Allowing them that activity gives them joy and makes them want to work for you. As long as their work gets done and owners/clients are happy, what does it matter to you?


Team Over Individual

My mom called yesterday and told me a weird story about a company who separated their young and old engineers into different buildings. The veterans felt the younger engineers did not respect them, and the young engineers felt the veterans were not as effective as they could be. Due to the perceived threat, human resources separated the groups.


This separation will only lead to an unhealthy competition of old versus young. Instead, these talents should be combined. Make it teams of old and young competing against other old and young teams. The veterans can teach the younger engineers some nuances while the younger engineers can teach the veterans how technology can improve their performance.


Pit these teams against one another in a friendly competition with some incentives on the line, and you have created an effective environment.



Make it fun. In jiu jitsu, the goal is to make someone tap because if they did not, you have the power and control to make them pass out via choke or break a bone. The consequences are dire, yet no one is actually trying to hurt each other because you need others to engage in the sport. Also, these people become your friends and acquaintances. If you continue to hurt people, no one wants to make you better. By you thinking you are the best, you are becoming worse.


Organizations are similar. You need your team members to perform otherwise your project fails. Sitting in the comfort of an office is easy to make decisions and turn on a dime. Out in the field, these phone calls and texts have impacts that can delay a team days or weeks. Acting as an individual only hurts your team.


Remember, this competition is not for their jobs or any life-changing event or impact. It is meant to be organized fun to not only help the organization become more productive but also help team members come together and feel more fulfilled.




Competition is good. It becomes unhealthy when the hierarchy that is naturally created starts to control too much. If you are the best salesman or woman, that does not mean you should be in control of the process until someone else knocks you off the top. It does mean, for that time period, he or she sold the most.


Incentives, big and small, make a huge difference. Money always seems to be the obvious reward. In some cases, money is no longer a driver. Some people want more vacation or more freedom of their schedules. Top performers may have side projects that require their attention. You may be reading an article written on company time, who knows? The freedom to do so keeps me happy. If this freedom gets shut down in the name of productivity, my production goes down. It is not a coincidence.


Have fun with this. People’s jobs should not be on the line or careers at stake over an interoffice competition. Egos need to be stuffed high on a shelf. Either you win, or you learn.


The war on experience continues…

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

The comments to this entry are closed.

©Copyright 2000-2017 Emprend, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
About us   Site Map   View current sponsorship opportunities (PDF)
Contact us for more information or e-mail
Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Stay Connected
Get our latest content delivered to your inbox, every other week. New case studies, articles, templates, online courses, and more. Check out our Newsletter Archive for past issues. Sign Up Now

Follow Us!
Linked In Facebook Twitter RSS Feeds

Got a Question?
Drop us an email or call us toll free:
7am-5pm Pacific
Monday - Friday
We'd love to talk to you.

Learn more about ProjectConnections and who writes our content. Want to learn more? Compare our membership levels.