How Healthy Is The Competition In Your Workplace?

Just a couple of years ago, it seemed that most people were more concerned with keeping their job due to the economic downturn and budget cuts. With an improved economy (in most sectors) and employees sensing greater opportunity for advancement, a more intense level of competition is present in today's workplace.

Several years ago someone shared the phrase "competition breeds excellence" with me. And I think in cases where the competitive spirit is healthy, that is true. I have also come to realize that when competition is toxic, it breeds mistrust, sabotage, and an overall lack of engagement among some team members.

To determine the health of the competition in your workplace, reflect on your answers to these questions:

  • Do team members talk positively about the competition, or is it something that is quietly loathed by others?
  • Is the focus of competition to help all team members improve, or is it limited to a few "A" players who are frequently running off in their own direction?
  • When something fails, are team members genuinely seeking answers for what can be done differently next time, or are they content to "throw others under the bus?"
  • When someone on the team advances, is the general feeling one of "Congratulations, we're happy for you," or "Good riddance! You didn't really care about us anyway."
  • Does your team leader encourage a level playing field where everyone has the chance to prove themselves, or do they tend to "play favorites?"

Of course, these are extremely subjective questions, and you'll want to make sure you're looking at more than one or two instances when you answer. Most importantly, you'll want to examine your role to lead or influence whether the competition on your team is producing hostility, or a greater spirit of innovation, collaboration, and yes, excellence.

For more on competition in the workplace: 

Creating Healthy Competition At Work
How To Deal With Overly Competitive Employees

If you sense that your team is getting less than optimum results due to unhealthy competition or other factors, send me an email and let's start talking about what to do about it.