“Contests don’t motivate me.”

When I saw this on Facebook, I couldn’t stop laughing; I wish I was this self-aware at age 10. (Photo credit to Beth Teliho.)


“Contests don’t motivate me” is undeniably the reason why some managers don’t connect with some team members. Recognition is arguably a key to engagement and satisfaction, but recognition via contests, rewards, and incentives can sometimes miss the mark. Some employees are overwhelmed by pressure to compete, some feel demeaned by frivolity, and some simply prefer quiet collaboration.

[Of course, there are some people who have the opposite reaction — their creativity and drive seems to increase exponentially with competition. Their “Valentine Box” projects are currently being re-pinned on Pinterest.]

A manager’s challenge is maintaining a work environment where every “style” feels valued and respected. That’s a complex task, but the solution is simple: invest your time in people. When you truly know your team’s interests, abilities, and preferences, it’s easier to assure that each team member is seen, heard, and understood. Your recognition is more meaningful because it’s personal and genuine.

Interestingly enough, simply knowing and acknowledging that “contests don’t motivate me” vibe can provide the recognition and motivation you seek.

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