How Employee Pitch Competitions Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Learn how to provide an open forum for employees to contribute ideas that could better your small business.

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The Win-Win Benefits of Internal Competitions

Our employees have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to help influence the direction of the company. More importantly, though, we make better business decisions because the best ideas of a group are far better than what any one individual could develop. The awards interject additional competitive pressure that makes everyone want to focus on winning, generating the best ideas possible.

Winning ideas can help you improve faster than your competitors.

It’s different than external competition because internal competition remains friendly. It serves to pull ideas from employees in a fun way, and our directors have even gained motivation to try to outdo each other. Ultimately, everyone wins because you end up working for a better company.

Making Internal Pitch Competitions Work

Perhaps you have never tried something like this. So what’s next? It’s not that hard to get started. Here are four tips to get you on your way:

1. Remove barriers that discourage open discussion. Make it clear that judgment doesn’t belong in the preliminary process when stumbling through ideas, but will be reserved for final, developed contributions.

2. Don’t treat this like work. Everyone in a company likes thinking “big,” and this competition gives the whole team an opportunity to focus on areas on which they might not normally get to work.

3. No Negative Nellies are allowed. Belittling an idea will only create conflict. There are no bad ideas; there are only good ideas and ideas before good ideas.

4. Implement the winning idea. If you’re going through all this trouble, make sure you actually implement the winning idea, and maybe even have the ones who pitched the winning idea spearhead its execution. The whole point of having a competition is to come up with actionable ideas.

It’s easy to focus on comparing your company to others — you absolutely should be doing that — but take the extra step of having the people who know your business model best think through your processes and methods. If you’re willing to shake up the status quo, it’s even easier to beat the company you were yesterday.

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Photo: Massimo Dutti

Chuck Cohn is the founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors, a provider of tutoring in Atlanta and 17 other metro areas.  




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