If you’re looking for a source for Teamwork Tips, you’ve come to the right place. Teams are often mixed bags of different types of personalities, skill sets, and egos. Competitiveness is a characteristic that varies between teams, but for some, can be their downfall if handled incorrectly. Today’s article is on the importance of using the natural competitiveness that is inherent within us all, to create that positive working attitude which will increase the productivity of the teams you work in.
How to handle competitive team mates.
Competitiveness is often seen as a negative characteristic; often associated with immorality, aggression and self-centered behaviour. Part of this stigma exists for a very valid reason, but there’s no denying that competitive spirit is a brilliant motivation tool. Humans are hardwired to be very competitive creatures. In life we naturally we have to compete for everything, including jobs, partners and even restaurant tables! We all have a competitive spirit to some extent, although it is more prevalent in certain people than others.
But firstly, lets take a quick look at what competitiveness is. From a teamwork point of view, there are actually two types: Constructive and Destructive.
Constructive competitiveness occurs when the individual is competing against an ‘outside’ threat that is remote from the team, for example, another team or company. Constructive competitiveness also covers when the individual competes against themselves. This type brings a positive benefit to the team because if the team succeeds, the competitor is too remote for there to be any negative consequences for the team. For instance if a marketing team for Loreal successful bring a product to market; beating the equivilant team from Procter and Gamble, then from Loreal’s point of view, it’s win win.
Destructive competitiveness occurs when close peers, collegues or family compete. So for most teamwork cases, this would include competition within the team. While it’s true that some leaders could pull this off well, on the whole you’ll do well to avoid it. When both competitors reside in the same team, then it guarantees that the team will feel the effects of the winner and the loser, which effectively cancel out. As pressure increases, team members may start withholding infomation from one another, or even subtley sabotageing or undermining the other’s efforts. In this kind of environment, success is only a selfish gain, and the overall effect on the team is negative. Enron encouraged this level of competitiveness by routinely laying off those who featured in the lowest 10% performing employees.
How to encourage constructive competitiveness
If you want to unleash the competitiveness in a positive way within your friends or collegues:
- Give your employees a solid reputation to uphold
- Compare your employees to their external rivals and challenge them to beat them.
- Set your worker a tough goal to meet, and support with praise.
Our natural competitiveness will instinctly take over once the right challenge has been set. No-one can resist the opportunity to prove an admirer right, or accept a tough personal challenge and excel above others.
Remembering my warning before about destructive competitiveness; a ‘rival’ to beat must exist outside of your organisation, or so remote from the individual that there will be no negativity between them. If you successfully set your own friends or team mates challenges such as these, you will fill them with a sense of motivation and enthuasiasm that would only come them taking on a competitive challenge and personally striving to win!