Q. How can I inspire more team work and less competition within a department?
Lauren: Competitiveness in an arena where it is uncalled for can sometimes be the result of being unsure of your worth or value to the team, in other words, from feeling threatened. If people feel undervalued for their unique contribution to the organization, they might fear they are expendable. This assumption could actually be false, but in many cases there is a grain of truth to it. Let’s see if we can get a handle on what is contributing to this environment so that you have a better idea of the necessary steps to inspire a more cooperative effort. Please consider the last four questions for you, or for the person who oversees the department.
What employee or employees are thriving on the competitiveness?
Of those who thrive on it, what are they getting from it?
How do the individuals involved pose a threat to each other?
If the competitiveness is new, what changed?
In what ways might their behavior be reinforced?
How have you gotten teams to work collaboratively in the past (considering outside vendors or affiliates if necessary)?
What does success in the department look like to you?
What would the department look like if everyone worked collaboratively?
What impact would sharing your view of a successful, collaborative team have?
How will you share that with the team?
If one person is recognized more than others for his/her contribution, there might be an imbalance of influence that needs to be addressed to slay the fears of others. To that end, how can you reinforce the worth and contribution of each person so that everyone understands the importance of all members on the team? And finally, what can you do to communicate that you view all of your employees as talented, capable and an integral part to the success of the department?