Employee Of The Month Is A Bad Idea

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I want to confront something that companies, even to this day, still do, that I think is a horrible idea.

Employee of the month.

There’s different variations of this same concept. You might have crew of the month, team of the month, or location of the month.

It all starts out innocently enough. The leader’s intention is to have a friendly internal rivalry. The leader’s hope is that having employees compete with each other will drive up performance.

But do you really want to see people fighting with each other to see who is the best?

What you really want is internal collaboration to help win the external customer, to beat your external competitors, or simply achieve the organization’s fullest potential.

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Think of the places that you’ve seen it. Often there is truly an employee of the month and it’s often the same person. After all, the superstars in your organization are generally going to be a small percent of your workers, probably 3% or fewer. They deserve to be employees of the month every month, but putting them up on the wall becomes discouraging to the others. You don’t want people thinking, “Well, I can’t possibly get to be as good as Jim, so I’m not even going to try.”


Instead of having an employee of the month, why not set challenging goals and support everyone to meet or exceed those goals?

We don’t need one person to be the absolute best; we need everyone to be able to clear the hurdle of excellence. So instead of employee of the month, why not celebrate levels of achievement?

Why not have levels of excellence and set the bar high, but encourage more and more people to clear that bar?