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Turn competition into cooperation

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building


In economic downturns, people try more than ever to showcase their strengths. They want to stand out and prove that they are indispensable, especially amid the threat of layoffs.

The danger is that individuals will focus more on scoring points with management rather than help the team achieve its goals. If team members are too busy vying for your approval, they may overlook their actual duties.

You can nip this problem in the bud by rewarding cooperation, not competition. Recognize employees who selflessly contribute to the group’s collective success. Hand out gift certificates or other prizes to those workers who make sacrifices that enable teammates to shine.

For example, many teams have a technical whiz who works quietly behind the scenes to fix what’s broken and ensure that the group has the proper tools and equipment to operate effectively. These individuals rarely receive kudos, so salute them for their efforts.

On a larger scale, offer incentives that the entire team can win for working together to meet ambitious targets. That’s better than heaping praise on the most outspoken showboats who hog the spotlight and claim credit for team accomplishments.

Demanding transparency also increases the trust level and prevents backstabbing among individuals on the team. If an employee approaches you privately about a team matter, stop the conversation in its tracks and insist that you meet as a group to discuss it.

When team members see that they can increase their stature within the organization by cooperating and making their co-workers more successful, they will stop trying to hype themselves at others’ expense. Your teams will produce better results as participants pull together for the greater good.

Shut down naysayers by refusing to accept their comments such as, “That will never work.” Instead, push back. Demand that they cite their reasons something won’t work. For every point that they make, ask, “Is it possible that your reason doesn’t apply in this case?” This forces them to justify their conclusion—and allows you to challenge their assumptions.


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