An Overview of Teams
There is an adage that “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with a team.” Put another way competition makes individuals run harder and faster while collaboration makes us work better for holistic outcomes.
People are competitive by nature. As children we compete with our siblings for our parent’s attention. At school we compete against individuals or team in sports. As adults we compete with peers for the best jobs, and with coworkers for a raise or promotion.
Sales in particular is known for its dog-eat-dog, target oriented environment which often pits colleagues against each other. Organizations get great results from encouraging healthy competition amongst individuals, especially with a leaderboard that shows staff performance in a transparent manner. They can however leverage this competition by putting individuals into teams where a company can reap the business benefits of both competition and collaboration.
Organizations are increasingly chasing more aggressive growth goals and the pressure of quarterly reporting so the question is whether high performance comes from promoting competition amongst reps or encouraging collaboration. Let’s explore!
Why Should Teams Compete?
Competition is traditionally how organizations have driven their staff , particularly sales staff. Some of the benefits have included the following:
Motivation – Leaderboards that show staff performance by ranking their activities and progress towards a target drives some people to work harder especially if there is a prize for “winning” the competition. The closeness of colleagues can induce a sense of urgency. They crave the reward, as well as the personal sense of accomplishment.
Promote innovation – Competition encourages staff to look for to improve. They might streamline an existing process or define a new approach to speed up the sales cycle. They might use technology to make more calls or automate emails so that the pipeline moves with minimal interaction. Social media might be employed to maintain informal communication links and provide product updates to everyone who follows the person or the company.
Remove complacency – Competition pushes people out of their comfort zone. Striving to be number one requires extra effort and tenacity. Excellent sales reps have a big enough ego to survive the slings and arrows of client interaction. They are able to handle rejection and move on quickly to the next prospect or activity. This is a rare attribute.
The downside to competition is that employees don’t mentor under performing colleagues. They don’t share their secrets to success in case someone uses their approach to beat them to the prize. They preserve the opportunity to achieve higher individual goals, often at the expense of company objectives.
Why Should Teams Collaborate?
Collaboration encourages staff to work with each other instead of against each other. This provides the environment to leverage best practices and increase efficiency and effectiveness. In a collaborative situation, everyone feels safe to share their best practices and learnings to help the organization succeed as a whole.
Learn from each other – Collaboration provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s successes and failures to enable a learning organizational approach. This is how companies prepare strategies and scenarios for unanticipated changes in their eco-system. It also allows the company to focus on a mixture of short and long term goals by assigning tasks to those best able to deliver against these targets.
Break down barriers – Collaboration within a single department is important,however the biggest uplift in results comes from extending that collaborative approach across all departments in an organization. Highly successful companies made include Partners and Suppliers in this collaboration in order to ensure all links in the supply chain are operating effectively. This also provides a great feedback loop as everyone contributes information to the company knowledge base about customers and products.
A culture of collaboration eliminates silos of data, information, and communication allowing everyone to express their opinion and expertise to better deliver the company goals.
Share goals – Setting goals on a team performance level encourages a better level of staff engagement. It motivates everyone to share common objectives rather than a “what’s in it for me” approach. It is still important to recognize individual contributions within the team environment and celebrate the achievement of milestones.
Can’t we have Both?
The recent taco ad suggests we don’t have to chose one approach over another. The best teams encourage both collaboration and competition – reps should collaborate with their peers to compete against the industry and competitors. Engaged staff can help their company outperform the competition by up to 202%.
One of the key things to focus on is that collaboration isn’t about ‘leveling the playing field’. It is about helping each person perform to their best level and achieve success for the company as well as themselves.
And it’s important to note a few things about competition.
- It doesn’t have to be on an individual level – it can be on a group or team level, or there can be multiple winners.
- It doesn’t always have to be revenue-based. The best way to deliver better business results is to focus staff on the activities that build to the eventual sale or closed deal. This could be emails sent or phone calls completed. It could also be about deals advanced through the sales stage or meetings set up with clients.
- It doesn’t have to include a monetary reward. Winners could receive experiences such as a balloon flight or a half day off work, a team dinner or even a certificate or medal to hang at their desk.
The Role of Technology
Spinify solutions empower today’s workforce by connecting employees across offices or keeping them up to date when they are out of the office. Motivational enablement tools such as leaderboards provide the foundation for competition and collaboration in the workplace. They use real-time data from a company’s data app and re-visualizes it as a ranking and individual information on a TV or a smart phone app. Leaderboards can focus on individuals or teams so that a company can chose the best approach for the problems they face right now. They also introduce the key aspects of gamification with points, badges and levels so that staff achievement is on display for all to see with these simple adornments.
Companies achieve better results with leaderbaords that encourage a variety of motivational approaches, competition or collaboration. You choose what it will be today!