Game on

Competition among co-workers can be helpful

Posted: Monday, August 28, 2006

At some companies, a little healthy competition can create some much-needed enthusiasm and camaraderie among co-workers, not to mention a sense of pride after a victory.

Though the idea of implementing such internal competition isn't a new one, the competitions themselves get more unique as time wears on. For example, Domino's Pizza LLC holds an international pizza-making contest among its employees throughout the world every year. The multi-country championship is not only designed to honor the finalists who have succeeded at the regional contests, but also to provide inspiration and elicit friendly competition throughout the company.

"Imagine walking into a hockey arena - there are stands all around you, everyone is cheering and banging their thundersticks," explains Patty Wilmot, executive vice president of People First for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company. "It's surreal! It's absolutely phenomenal! We make millions of pizzas every day, but being on that level is like the Cadillac of our industry. They're not just there to celebrate excellence; some of the contestants have worked for the company for years, and this means a lot to them."

But there is more to this competition than just tomato sauce and pizza crust. Wilmot relates these events to a boxing match - it's the fight that counts as much as the winner. The goal in the Domino's competition is to make as many store-quality pizzas, meaning pizzas good enough to serve to its customers, in 60 seconds.

Better from within

Though most companies don't deal with cheese and pepperoni on a regular basis - unless it's for lunch, that is - companywide competitions like this have one thing in common: goals. The industry may change, but the objective stays the same.

"It takes a lot of mental capacity," adds Wilmot. "The store is close quarters, the phone is constantly ringing - we encourage our employees to answer after the second ring. There's a science to [making a pizza]. It's a mechanical process with every single step."

While this competition is held once a year, competitors practice for it on a daily basis by using every opportunity to strengthen their skills and sharpen their pizza-making abilities.

"We start every business meeting with a cheer - the CEO starts and everyone knows it," adds Wilmot. "I've never been at a company that has a passion like this. We always say that pizza sauce is running through our veins."

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