collaboration vs competition

Competition Vs. Collaboration in Business

The desire to one-up each other by constantly raising the bar has been the driving force behind much of humanity’s rapid development. We have, and will continue to have that insatiable hunger to distinguish ourselves as somehow special or superior to those around us. This competitive nature is difficult to shake since we experience competition all the time. As infants, we squabble with siblings for our parents’ attention. School and university often augment that sense of competition by pitting us against classmates. In the workforce, employees try to outdo each other, be it for higher salaries, bonuses, promotions or just workplace status. But while a competitive intra-company  work environment can be beneficial for a business, many of the most profitable businesses now actually operate under the axiom “employee collaboration yields the greatest level of success”.

Competition and collaboration are two contrasting approaches to operating a business. Let’s take a look at the effectiveness of each.

Competition 

Advantages  Disadvantages 
  Employee urgency    Increased stress
  Improved productivity    Employee resentment
   Potential for malicious behavior

Without a doubt, competition creates a sense of urgency for employees feeling the need to increase productivity and efficiency. Nobody sits easy knowing they could be expendable if their colleagues does a better job, faster and more effectively. On the other hand, this uneasiness leads to increased levels of stress for employees across the board, never feeling secure and relaxed. Eventually, a staff could grow to resent each other and leaves the possibility of co-workers actually sabotaging each other to make their personal work look better by comparison.

Collaboration 

Advantages Disadvantages 
  Self reinforcing cooperation   Too many potential leaders
  Staff camaraderie   Different working styles
  Improved division of work   Potential for laziness
  More creative input
  Improved quality
  Reduced costs and cycle times

The cons of a collaborative work environment generally manifests themselves when you have a team of employees who are less capable of working with other people. Problems arise when a group has too many people who want to take the lead and in turn become pseudo-leaders, leaving a project with no clear direction. There can also be a situation where group members vary greatly in working style and simply don’t mesh well or a case where employees take advantage of their co-workers by not putting in enough effort, knowing others will compensate for their laziness. This is when a collaborative approach falls apart.

But often times this isn’t the case and group-think works exceptionally well. A reinforcing team operates harmoniously, with workers that encourages one another in a less stress-induced workplace. The goal of the staff is more unified and the quality of a business’ output is significantly increased. Countless studies have shown businesses that use a more team-oriented approach get better and faster results. Teamwork is the key since inter-dependency of departments has become such a staple of contemporary business regardless of locale, be it cross-hallway or cross-continent.

So phase out the old adage of working competition and encourage collaboration. It’s just good business.

 

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