How to Foster Healthy Competition in the Workplace

“When the game is over, I just want to look at myself in the mirror, win or lose, and know I gave it everything I had.” —Joe Montana

Our team at NCSA is made up of nearly 800 former athletes, most who played at the college – and in some cases professional – levels. Our competitive spirits shine through daily and we compete for everything and anything – blood and tears have been shed at the annual flag football Turkey Bowl, our holiday party is incomplete without a fiercely competitive pop-a-shot tournament and I’ve even seen grown men argue over who could type faster. Sometimes people ask me if our culture is cut-throat, given that our roster includes an abundance of aggressive athletes who like to win. To the contrary, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more team-oriented group of people who truly care about and support one another. Here are a few reasons our “locker room” maintains an award-winning culture and avoids the negative connotations that often are associated with competition in the workplace.

We Hire The Right Athletes and Live By Our Core Values

It’s easy to say we hire athletes and our work is done, however, over the years, I’ve learned it’s not that simple. We work to hire the right athletes – eager, coachable athletes who are willing to give their all and lead their teammates by example – and on day one of training, we educate them on our core values so they understand NCSA’s cultural expectations. Whether they played their sport independently or as part of a team, they understand what it means to have someone’s back, to cheer each other on and to lead by example. The athletes we hire value dedication, coaching and teamwork. At times we do promote competition through friendly contests and our management team goes to great lengths to ensure any rivalry remains positive. Negative talk or action towards teammates is never tolerated, and individuals have been removed who failed to adhere to our core values. 

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We Celebrate Individual Success and Team Victories

Every week, we share stories about student-athletes who have gone on to compete in college and recognize the team members who played a role in their success. Team members always strive to reach their personal goals, and they are constantly reminded that their work, when combined with the success of their teammates, adds up to overall company success. This year, we are striving to help 25,000 high school student-athletes achieve college commitments. Each member of our team contributes to that goal in their own way, and they want to see others achieve their goals for the sake of the greater good. We regularly update our team on progress towards our goals – in small group and all-company settings – and have rituals to celebrate victories, such as the pins we wear to commemorate enrollment milestones.

We Unite Around Our Mission

People work for NCSA because they want to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes. While NCSA offers outstanding benefits, opportunities for career growth and exciting new challenges, it’s our mission of helping student-athletes find the right college fit that attracts top talent and keeps our team centered. NCSA team members know their work has a higher purpose, and even on the tough days, we hear life-changing success stories that keep us going. We want to see our teammates succeed because their success directly translates to the success of the student-athletes and coaches we serve.

Lisa Strasman is the President of the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA).

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