One of the most exciting games at parties when I was a kid was pass the parcel.
The feverish excitement as layer after layer was unwrapped to reveal yet another layer beneath. It was exciting because there was only one prize. The middle would have a bag of sweets or something similar and only one child won it. It was also totally random as to who that child was. The parent stopping the music would turn their back to the circle of kids so there could be no insider dealing or fixing the result. And we all accepted this. It was the fun of the game.
When my kids were growing up it was very different. Every child had to get a sweet and the birthday child needed to win the big prize. Complex arrangements were required to make sure there were enough layers and the music was stopped accurately to make sure every child got a sweet. A team of parents circling and pointing while the terrified music controller did their best to stop the parcel accurately to everyone gets a sweetie. The result. As soon as a child got their sweet they switched off. The game was now boring. It hadn’t even been that exciting to begin with because they all knew they would get one.
Life isn’t like this! Everyone does not get a sweetie. If you have that expectation you will be disappointed and many theories suggest that millennials are tough to manage for this very reason. They have been told they are special, can do anything they want and be the best and when they get into the world of work they realise this isn’t true. I’m not advocating dog eat dog competition far from it. However, healthy competing improves team performance. It’s when ego gets in the way that competition becomes destructive.
This Easter my family and I spent a day in Broadstairs and played our traditional game of Krazy Golf. No quarter asked for or given for kids or adults and we had blast. Whoever won was very soon forgotten and we all saw it for what it was – a healthy competition that drove all of us to try to get better.
How do we foster healthy competition in teams? Let me know what you think!
Managing Director, Sun and Moon Training