Competitive teamwork

Competitive teamwork

I was having lunch with some coworkers today, and one of them started talking about another place where he worked. He was saying that people were ranked individually and as a team, and when the company would hit hard times, people at the low end of the totem pole would get tossed.

I was a bit horrified hearing this, and then he said this was a pretty good situation. Apparently at another company with which he’d worked closely, people were ranked solely as individuals with no regard to the team. This meant that there was very little incentive to cooperate with teammates – if you helped your teammate, that meant you were decreasing the odds that your teammate would get canned and upping them for yourself. In other words, it seems to encourage backstabbing and secrecy.

Almost all of us agreed that we would not enjoy working in that sort of environment. Part of the reason we like working together is being able to talk and collaborate. Although it can sometimes be frustrating to work with certain individuals, you keep doing it because you know that you need them to get the work done, and that is more important than dealing with personality differences.

I personally would find it difficult to work in an environment where I had to compete against my coworkers. In fact, this is one thing I really disliked about school: the notion that I was competing against some of my classmates led many of them to avoid collaboration. It seems to me people are going to sacrifice the goals of their team or even their organization to make sure they keep their jobs. I would rather be in a situation where we’re all on the same team, trying to accomplish a goal in a collaborative manner.

What do you think?  Do you work in a competitive or collaborative environment? What things do you like or dislike about your team environment?  How would you change it?


I definitely say team ranking is the best. While it may allow a team member to slack, at least everyone isn’t concerned about whether they are going to be there tomorrow. Considering the company that does do individual ranking though, they do seem to get results. Let’s hope other companies don’t follow their model though.

I completely agree. I had the experience with a project partner. They had two people who were in different groups of the company. The relationship between the two was frosty at times as they were competing. This had a detrimental effect on the project as a whole and thus, we dumped them. I later found out that they had a rating system. I would hate to think what would happen if we had not been able to dump them.

I find a lot of the problems with teamwork disappear when I have every member of the team plugged into our online goal network. With it, every team member is accountable to all of the others and each has specific access regarding planning and management contribution. Everyone has their role and nobody takes a back seat.

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