QLeadership Series – Know your Competition

When employees pull together to compete in the marketplace, their level of motivation rises proportionately when they understand just who and what they are competing against. Nothing brings a team together like the challenge of performing at higher levels than its competitors and then helping the organization grow as a result.

Is having your employees know more about the competition dangerous? Possibly-especially when it comes to unveiling such information as employee incentive plans, salaries, and other perks. But remember, the point of having your workers get to know the competition is so that you, as the manager, can use this information to take specific steps to make your company a better place to work. The ultimate goal, of course, is to help create a work environment where employees feel motivated by much more than incentive plans or slightly higher wages.

Helping employees to better understand the competition doesn’t necessarily require taking a “rah-rah” attitude either, as if organizations were high-school football teams. This is just another way to help your employees get the big picture because your competitors are a part of that picture.

You will get to know your competition by researching what they are din and then using that information to improve your own organization. In that spirit, here are some ways both you and your employees can Iearn a bit more about your competitors.

Help employees to compete in the marketplace: Show your employees how to compete more effectively in the marketplace by encouraging them to learn more about your industry and staying current with industry changes. Budget for employee membership in your industry professional associations and then give people an opportunity to read their trade publications. Encourage employees to share industry news, overviews, and relevant case studies. Suggest employees join Internet discussion groups on subjects dealing with your industry and its management in general.

Start competitor files: Put someone in charge of obtaining the competitor’s promotional literature; then have someone investigate their Web site and obtain a copy of their annual report, if possible. In addition, a competitor file should include copies of advertisements, profiles of top executives, and the organization’s awards and recognition. Assign a team to take it all a step further and determine the competition’s strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace, market share, and global reach.

Know your competitors and how you measure up against them: A quick and easy way to do this is to have your employees simply ask your customers to evaluate how your organization measures up to the competition. Tell them to be specific. Find out what your customers have to say about your competitor’s pricing, customer care programs, product quality, etc. Have employees document the feed­ back and use this as a basis for internal improvements within your department.

“Next to knowing all about your own business, the best thing is to know all about the other fellow’s business.

-John D. Rockefeller, Founder, Standard Oil

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