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Could Competitive “Team” Mentality Be Costing You BIG BUCKS?

It’s likely that you’ve been a part of some sort of team at some point in your life . . . basketball, cheerleading, etc. I’m sure you were coached to “stick together,” beat the other team, and have “team pride.” While I agree that team pride and competitiveness can be highly effective in certain situations, the Olympics for example, in many other instances it can actually hinder your productivity and cost you time and money.

For example, within the workplace or organization, there is little good that can come from individual teams working in isolation – in competition with other teams in the organization. It simply isn’t a productive, constructive, or collaborative way to operate.

Now, if I were you, I might think to myself “Is she really suggesting that we forget about teamwork? Haven’t we been told for years that teamwork is crucial to success?!” I can see your point, and actually I’m suggesting that we change the way we think and talk about teams in the workplace, within organizations, and even in our personal relationships. I’m suggesting that we look at teams as partners rather than competitors, working toward a common mission and vision. Let’s compare “competitive teams” to “partnering teams.”

Competitive teams think in terms of “us versus them,” causing productivity to suffer. It doesn’t really matter what the industry,the story is usually the same. The sales team isn’t working with the marketing team, the production team isn’t working with the operations team, the middle managers don’t know what the senior managers are planing, etc. For example, if the marketing team markets a product that the production team can’t produce, then the sales team won’t be able to sell. In short, “us against them” will halt productivity, increase frustration, promote employee turnover, and cost you time and money.

When teams operate as partners, they want each other to succeed in order to reach the common goal. Partners strike “Nobody told me” from their vocabulary. They ask for input and take initiative to gain information where needed. Partners respect the contribution of each team and consider how their work will impact
the people around them. Partners actively seek each other out to freely share information that is critical to overall success.

Competitive teams tend to “go for the glory.” When teams operate without regard to each other, they often feel a sense of sole ownership for a project (particularly if it does happen to be a success). Think about it, you’ve probably heard others (certainly not you) talk about how the effort wouldn’t have worked if they hadn’t worked so hard or covered for someone else’s mistakes, or pushed ahead without help from the other team. If teams aren’t working in partnership then they aren’t getting the whole picture and will likely assume everyone else is “clueless,” making promises that can’t be delivered, or that no one else cares or works as hard as they do. When a project or effort takes more than one group of people to carry it out, no one team has the right to take sole credit for the success. This only fosters a greater rift between teams (increasing frustration,decreasing motivation, etc.).

When partnering teams recognize and validate the contribution of each team, they motivate the individuals and promote productivity. Think about it,wouldn’t you rather be on a “winning team” rather than continuously feel like your team lost, or worse yet, went unnoticed? “Winning” motivates us to keep on striving to win again. Whether you’re heading up a project with more than one team, or whether you’re a team member, find ways to validate each participant involved. You will likely see motivation and collaboration increase, which puts you on the right track for greater quality, productivity and revenue.

The bottom line is this, you may have amazing teams within a project or organization, however, if they don’t work together in partnership, nobody wins. When you convert competitiveness to partnerships, you will Actualize Success.

©2010 Actualize Consulting Group. All rights reserved Internationally. Permission granted to excerpt or redistribute with attribution and notification.