7 Steps to Planning an Amazing Holiday Contest

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By Kristen Hayer

Team contests are a fun way to drive positive behavior, introduce new processes and keep your group focused on results. The holidays are a naturally distracting time and often, as leaders, we’re busy planning for the next year. This is a perfect time to introduce a contest. Whether your goal is to build new habits or just finish 2018 strong, here are 7 steps you can use to build a contest that drives positive outcomes for your team and customers.

Define Desired Behavior

First, don’t try to accomplish too much with your contest. Contests are great for driving short-term behavior change (like pushing your team to hit a monthly target) or establishing good habits related to a new process. Choose 1-2 goals for your contest that are simple, concrete, and measurable, and make sure you have a way to measure results throughout the contest. Mid-contest milestones (like a weekly winner, or mid-month targets) keep everyone focused on results.

Write Up the Rules

A write-up of the contest rules helps to motivate your team to perform the behavior you’re looking for, and helps to avoid conflicts or negative behaviors. As you’re writing, think less like a lawyer and more like a board game creator – this should be fun! Do consider potential negatives (like your team focusing too much on the contest rather than some of their other important work) and try to create rules that prevent those situations.

Choose the Rewards

Consider what you’re asking the team to do, and make sure the prizes are large enough to keep people interested. That said, this is where you can really get creative, even if you have a small budget. You can opt for actual prizes, gift cards, time off (check with your HR team first!) or team events. If you choose to go the prize route, keep in mind that even small prizes can be meaningful, as long as they are thoughtfully chosen.

Set the Stage

Some of my favorite team contests involved pretty elaborate decorations, and the holidays are a great time to make that happen. This time of year, consider making decorating your space a part of the contest, or make the decorations part of the game (like a game board or leaderboard on the wall). The constant visual reminder of the event will keep your team focused on the results you’re trying to achieve, and can add to the fun.

Update the Leaderboard

Part of the fun of participating in a contest is knowing where you stand at any point in time. Think of it like a race: You want to know how fast you have to run to catch the leader. Publishing results daily or weekly is a great way to keep the contest top of mind for your team. In addition, mid-contest prizes are a great way to reward quick wins as well as acknowledge some of the team members who probably won’t win the grand prize.

Promote the Winners

If you’ve decorated your department and kept a leaderboard going throughout your contest, other departments will be curious about what’s going on. In addition to awarding prizes, promoting your winners to the rest of the organization can be very meaningful for your team. Be sure to share what they did to win, and how that benefits your company. This is great PR for both the individual winners and your customer success team as a whole.

Measure Results

Contest are fun, but they should also produce meaningful results. At the end of each contest take a few minutes to create a short report on what you did, the total cost, any unexpected side-effects, and the results you saw from the team. Keeping these reports will help you dial in future contests, and justify the budget for contests and incentives going forward. Over time, you’ll learn what works and doesn’t work well for your team.

Follow these steps to create a December contest that drives powerful results, keeps your team focused through the holiday season, and creates positive morale. Happy holidays!

The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that works with leaders to drive positive team behavior and incredible results. Check out our leadership programs for more information on how you can build your customer success management skills. TheSuccessLeague.io

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Kristen Hayer - Kristen believes that customer success is the key to driving revenue, client retention and exceptional customer experiences. Her areas of expertise include developing success goals and metrics, designing the optimal customer journey, selecting technology, training teams, and building playbooks. Prior to founding The Success League, Kristen built and led several award-winning customer success teams. Over the past 20 years she has been a success, sales, and marketing executive, primarily working with growth-stage tech companies. Kristen has her BA from Seattle Pacific University and her MBA from the University of Washington.