Has teamwork and collaboration declined?

by Human Capital25 Jul 2012

It’s an affliction of each generation to mourn the ‘good old days’ and lament how the ways of the world have changed for the worse – people are nowadays more materialistic, arrogant, greedy and less reliable, or so speculation says.

But what about more competitive, and less willing to work in a team? According to research, 40% of senior managers believe employees at their organisation are more competitive with each other than they were 10 years ago.

While friendly competition in the office can be healthy if it inspires great individual and team performance, out-and-out rivalry between co-workers can damage the bottom line and cut collaboration. “[Competition] often become more intense when the economy is uncertain and people feel pressure to prove themselves. Although it's natural for employees to want to stand out among their colleagues, it shouldn't be at the expense of others,” Robert Hosking from Office Team said.

When competitiveness moves beyond friendly rivalry, and begins to put a dent in teamwork and collaboration, it is likely to become a performance management issue. According to the survey, five common types of workplace competitors frequently emerge, and these include:

1. The Pole Vaulter: This person jumps to nab all of the high-profile assignments, leaving the less visible work to everyone else.

2. The Boxer: This worker has a jab for everyone – whether it’s a snide remark during a staff meeting or a sarcastic email, the spraying of negativity is relentless.

3. The Sprinter: This person tries to carry favour by working quickly – even if the results are sloppy.

4. The Gymnast: This employee bends and twists the facts, sometimes taking credit for others’ work.

5. The Marathoner: This person can go the full distance when it comes to spending time at the water cooler, sharing rumours with anyone who will listen. Although it can be useful to have a sense of the political undercurrents in your firm, avoid letting office gossips destroy morale.


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