Three Contests You Never Want to Win at Work

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An overheard conversation in an elevator last week…

Guy #1: “I have flown over 100,000 miles already this year on United. Dude, I’m piling on the miles and will hit big status soon.”

Guy #2: “Whoa, you are way ahead. I have over a million lifetime miles on American but not traveling much this year. You win for sure.”

Me to myself: “What!?!? If ever there was a contest I don’t want to win, that is it.”

My mind wandered to the other so-called contests at work. These are the ones no one shouldwant to win but people compete, keep score and try to compile high scores.

  • Most Frequent Flyer Miles – It’s hard to tell how many miles are “a lot” any more. I have a kabillion miles on United Airlines from years of traveling. Yet, on any given flight when the upgrade list is posted, I’m rarely in the top thirty names. I now give up on collecting miles; no matter how many one has, it’s never enough. Winning the Frequent Flyer Miles Collection Contest means you are away from home too much; that you are probably not eating right; that you are jet lagged; that you are not getting exercise and that your friends miss you. Need more reasons?
  • Most Emails Received – Like the guys on the elevator, I have heard people brag about the two or three hundred emails that greet them each morning. Yikes. It is not something to be proud of. Winning the emails received contents means you probably need to unsubscribe from a few things, and that you are wasting time reading them. It means also that you are probably sending too many emails. The number of emails you receive is related to the number you send. No one is paid based on the number of emails received.
  • Most Rejection Letters – Talk about depressing. Who wants to win this contest, but I see notes of rejection in cubicles and hung on walls all over. How many is too many before you start to think of yourself as one big REJECT. There are better things to count than notes that feature the word, “Unfortunately”.

For the sake of your career, stop competing in these contests. Close runner-ups in contests to avoid include:

  • Most meetings attended.
  • Most late expense reports.
  • Most posts on Facebook during work hours.
  • Most websites checked before beginning real work.
  • Most sick days taken.
  • Most unflattering nicknames.
  • Most times late for work or meetings.
  • Most pizzas consumed in the office after 9pm.

Conversely, there are contests you should want to win. There is no good way to keep score for the contests you want to win, so you’ll have to keep your own private score. In order to get that raise and promotion, you should know how you score in these contests:

  • Most sought after for projects
  • Most favorable rating from clients/customers
  • Most responsive
  • Best presentation skills

And, if you can’t figure out how to migrate from the top category to the bottom category, you can always aspire to win another contest – The Lottery.

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