Is staff competing beneficial or harmful to a business?
We are told that ideally everyone in our company should work together as a team, with no competition. However there are some advantages as well as disadvantages to competition.
Advantage 1: Boosting performance
It is a simple fact, having a standard to compete against helps boost performance. When that standard is based on what other people are doing and everyone is trying to be number 1, then people will keep moving up to the top.
Everyone wants to be number 1
Advantage 2: healthy respect
There is both healthy and unhealthy competition. When competition is positive people will have a healthy respect for each other. Anything negative will have the opposite result. When competition is built around rewards that are achieved and given fairly, we will respect those who succeed.
Advantage 3: Competition can be fun
Let's face it, the reason why we play sport is because we like putting ourselves to the test and winning. Competition makes things interesting and can be a lot of fun, especially if it is healthy competition. No one likes a sore loser or a bad winner.
Advantage 4: Competition can boost teamwork
Competition isn't always individual. Competing as a member of a team can help both improve your team spirit while boosting the performance of the team.
Disadvantage 1: Playing unfair
The biggest disadvantage of competition is when people win by cheating. It is of no benefit to your business if staff sabotage each other's work or end up in conflict. I have even seen managers refuse to employ staff more competent than they are because of this.
Competition can become negative
Disadvantage 2: Sometimes work needs a team
Imagine a team sport. If the two teams don't compete against each other it won't be interesting, however if players on the same team compete against each other, they have little of chance of winning. Often there are tasks that require people to work together. Competition can stop this.
Sometimes you need to cooperate to complete a task
Disadvantage 3: You can't always compare
If everyone is doing the exact same work with no restrictions it is easy to compare and compete. However often there are staff doing an excellent job, but because the nature of their work is different their performance appears to be poor. I have been in a situation where, when I change from doing very specialised work to the same work as everyone else, my performance went from being the worst to the best in the company.
Disadvantage 4: Competition can quickly turn negative
Every advantage of competition is dependent on having good healthy competition. It is annoying to play sport against both sore losers and bad winners, the same is true of competition at work. What is worse is when managers start to compete against their staff. I have met several poorly regarded managers who refuse to employ anyone who might be able to do a better job than they can and who actively sabotage their staff's work unless they can take credit for it.
Is internal competition a good thing?
Competition works well when you have several staff doing the same task and that task doesn't benefit from cooperation.
On the other hand, competition can quickly damage your business when it kills cooperation among staff.
Sales can be the perfect examples. Sales staff can benefit from competition with each other and also cooperation with non-sales staff.
In the worst cases staff refuse to share knowledge and resources simple because they are competing. This can damage the business as a whole.