Everyone has experienced competition in the workplace, from food service employees to software developers and the sales department. We’re willing to bet that nearly everyone also has experienced negative competition in the workplace, too. Fierce, Inc. Executive Vice President Kim Bohr believes creating an environment of healthy competition is about the rules of engagement.

Kim Bohr, EVP of operations at Fierce, Inc.

Kim Bohr, EVP of operations at Fierce, Inc.

“Whether it’s a sales team, or whether it’s an operations team, it’s about setting clear expectations in writing and making sure everybody understands them,” Bohr said. “That’s really where you create the baseline and foundation that you build on for a healthy organization.” 

Bohr said the next step is making sure leaders are transparent about how and which metrics are tracked. And then make sure employees are on board with the plan.

“Ideally, it would be metrics that are accessible for people every day, things that people are seeing come across their email or that are posted somewhere,” Bohr said. 

How teams share information and collaborate can be an indication of healthy workplace atmosphere. Key indicators of unhealthy competition include lack of performance or low engagement by employees.

“If you have someone who’s not performing, it really is an opportunity for a conversation to get curious and have a find out where the disconnect is,”Bohr said. “Is it a disconnect down to skill level or is it in the belief of the competition or the (organization’s bigger purpose)?”

One element of keeping employees engaged is understanding what motives employees and how they like to received recognition. Some employees might not be receptive to being highlighted in a company-wide staff meeting, or would appreciate a face-to-face conversation instead of a note via email.

“Really be thoughtful in tying that competition and recognition back to the goals and why of the organization, so it’s really creating the full story of not being just about the numbers,”Bohr said. “It’s about the bigger purpose, and it all strings together in the healthy competition that we’re creating and the workplace environment.”


Borh said these principles aren’t applicable only to sales-driven companies and teams, and employees in operations and support roles can and should be incorporated into office goals and initiatives.

“It’s really about getting everyone collectively agreeing to the mission and the vision as something that’s worthy of contributing to a healthy competitive environment,” Bohr said.

Bohr leads the sales and finance teams at Fierce, Inc., which was founded by CEO Susan Scott in 2001. Scott initially organized the consulting firm as a leadership development think tank dedicated to having bold and effective conversations in the workplace. Since then, Scott has become a best-selling author of Fierce Conversations – Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time, and Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today, and the think tank developed into a leadership consulting firm based on Scott’s frameworks first developed for her books.