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How do you recognize negative competition between your directs?  And what do you do about it?

I was talking with someone about a problem I have that involved a team in a different part of the organization.  The person helping me said that team is full of people competing against each other - just trying to make themslevs look better than their peers - going so far as to undermine their peers.  

Though I was not surprised, I was taken aback as I hadn't thought of this as a problem with my directs.  And to be honest, I'm not even sure exactly how to define the precise problem.  I am realizing that I may be naive as it relates to competition amongst my directs.  How do I know if they are in a competitive mode with each other?  And how do I know when the competition becomes a negative for the organization?  Lastly, if the competition is negative, what do I do about it?

 

SeaGal2015's picture

Hey there,

I'm not sure I have an answer for you, but I'm very interested in what others might say about this. My team (leadership level) is also hyper competitive, but you'd expect more of that at the management level. However, I also came from a team of ICs who were uber competitive and backstabbing. 

On that team the managers, perhaps unknowingly, rewarded bad behavior. As an example: one woman in particular did good project work, but also spent a lot of time talking down to coworkers and berating them openly. And yet, because she did some great projects for the team, she is continuously recognized at company events. I'm friends with a few of her management team and it's been tough for me not to say anything, as I know they see her as a "Golden Child," but she's absolutely terrible at relationships and that doesn't seem to be valued. In fact, she just won a company "collaboration" award for going above and beyond. You could almost hear the chuckles in the audience. 

So I'd say, maybe pay attention to what behavior you're rewarding, even if you're not intending to? Are these directs somehow under the impression that the means don't matter, collaboration isn't important - but the end is always justified so long as they produce X work?

The team who manage this woman I mentioned above are all good people, and mean the best, but I honestly don't think they're at all aware of this IC's behavior towards her peers (and nobody has spoken up besides me). When I sat near her, I'd hear her openly say things like, "Oh well maybe instead of whining you could create an awesome chart like I just did and you'd get a reward, too?" (And that wasn't sarcastic but serious.) Yikes. 

Anyway, good luck! It's a tough situation for sure.