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The Case for Participation Trophies (In the Office)

Amongst much criticism of millennials, perhaps one of the most frequently heard is how we were raised on "participation trophies" that have created an entitlement attitude. Some of this concern may hold true, such as over the elimination of a scoreboard entirely. However, we here at InMotion believe in some of the "participation trophy" rhetoric. We strive to create an ambitious and energetic workplace community that delivers the very best to our clients. Below is the argument for recognizing the contributions of the team, as well as the results.

People are rewarded for trying new things and taking new approaches. While results-driven project management is obviously a necessity, it is important to encourage effort and creativity. Innovative thinking is especially important in our ever-developing market, even if it does not always materialize into effective results. An example of this in action would be an advertising company praising a non-traditional pitch from a team regardless of whether it goes through with the client. This same type of pitch may be a hit with the next client, so let the team know that it is okay to take risks. Perhaps the worst assault on your business is fostering an environment where it is best to resort to same-old concepts, which will only produce mediocre work.

The work environment is positive. When people feel recognized for their efforts, they are happier and more successful at their jobs. Additionally, with the rise of the creative class, creative thinking will increasingly continue to dictate workplace success. Thus, everyone on the team should feel that their ideas are valid and valued. Demanding new ideas requires new approaches. Aside from the strategic importance, isn’t a community of individuals uplifting each other better for the team and clients?

No one will lose motivation for success. Another concern over children receiving participation trophies is that, with participation trophies, they will lose motivation to succeed and earn a winning trophy. Perhaps this concern carries over to workplace encouragement. However, it is important not to underestimate the team’s innate drive for successful results. In other words, people aren't stupid. They know the difference between a pat on the back for a creative idea (participation trophy), and a toast at the office party for scoring an account (winning trophy). Recognizing expected accomplishments will not hinder motivation to be extraordinary. In fact, it will provide the confidence and support needed to do so.

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