Competition and Collaboration: Finding a Balance

In the marketplace, competition is a natural tendency, and the “every man for himself” mentality emerges.

Although competition fosters quick thinking, critical problem solving, and ambition, it can be detrimental when this external competition begins to internalize. But, it’s necessary and vital in the business world between competitive companies. However, as manager, you must be aware of when this combative attitude begins to interfere with your internal collaboration.

Studies have shown that employees who know they’re competing with their peers become discouraged easily and perform below their ability level. Along with this downside, competition can also deter employees’ motives. For instance, your team members may be devoting their time, and ultimately your money, to outshining their peers… not finding the best possible solution for the project at hand. So, as a boss or leader, how can you encourage the ambition that comes with competition, while also fostering a collaborative environment? Here are some tips that may help you find that balance:

  1. They will collaborate when they are informed on how well they work with others. Once they know their level of involvement and how they best communicate, this encourages increased correspondence and cooperation.
  2. Accept the competitive presence. Instead of trying to stifle it, praise individuals on their work when it contributes to the team as a unit. When competitive minds are able to collaborate, innovative results begin to emerge.
  3. Be the “link” between your different departments or functions. As the leader, it is your responsibility to develop in-depth relationships with your employees. By creating an open and connected environment between the different sectors of your business, you are encouraging collaboration, which will provide a well-rounded approach to workplace problems.

There is a time and a place for competition within the workplace; however, you must be aware of when this aggressive mindset begins to erode the team mentality. Competition keeps employees alert and focused, however too much can leave your team segregated and weak. It’s up to you to figure out the healthy balance for your company.


Denis Coleman

Denis Coleman is the founder and CEO of Work Compass, a cloud staff performance collaboration software platform that helps teams align their efforts with strategic goals and continuously improve performance. Frustrated with the disconnect between strategy setting and day to day execution and the lack of tools available to managers to help them be great at their most important function …. Aligning their teams activities with strategic goals and actively managing for high performance Denis spent over 5 years researching strategy execution and performance management practices before founding Work Compass to create a software solution. Denis has held senior roles in Ireland, Czech Republic and North America with high performing electronics manufacturing and professional services organisations for more than 12 years. Denis has worked as Finance Director responsible for €800 million in annual revenues for Flextronics International, Key Account Manager responsible for annual revenues of more than €600 million for Dovatron International and Management Consultant for BDO one of Europe’s most successful professional services providers.

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