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Competition or Cooperation? the Catch 22 of Corporate Team Building

Danielle Steele asked:

Employees should be encouraged to work together and communicate in team building activities, however a little healthy competition is proven to be extremely beneficial towards stimulating and motivating the individual. It’s the Catch 22 of the corporate world, and proves to throw a curb ball into the mix when you are trying to plan a team building event.


The Healthy Balance of Competition In Team Building

Competition should be a part of any good team’s life. Competing against other companies, teams or organisations that have similar goals is the best way to get ahead, and often brutal tactics may be called upon to do so. We are not too different from our animal counterparts who fight ruthlessly for survival in their own respective kingdoms, and who says that we should be? How else to be successful than to be the best? It is a common fact that many who start up businesses will not last three years unless they quickly become a serious threat to their competition.

In modern society there is a strong slant on competition – just look towards the media and commercial world. One would have to have been sitting with their head under a rock to have missed the ever continuing and highly publicised competition between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama (and John McCain riding the coattails) in the race for American presidency. And we are only just recovering from the Howard vs Rudd media war. owardHoHkjs

Debates and scare tactics are rough play, but they do the job when it comes to rallying support in the public.

Your team might not have a presidential candidacy to worry about, but there is no question that they should want to be the best in their field (and if not then some serious motivation is needed!). The problems arise when they not only want to excel in their field, but when the competition to excel turns against other members of the same team. 

It seems that competition can cause some team members to compromise their ethical standards just to get ahead. Sometimes the old saying “it’s just a game” can be easily forgotten when tempers run high. It’s important for trainers to keep competitiveness balanced.

While competition is encouraged to help team members excel, stay aware when organising a team building event that your focus is on uniting as a team. It might be a good idea to include some aspect of competition in your team building activities to quickly get all of your team members motivated, as long as they are competing to work towards a common goal. Keep the object of victory small and the challenges insignificant to a wider and more personal implication so that the competition ends once the game does, you don’t want it transferring into the workplace.

Good, effective and fun ideas include a football or cricket game, a scavenger hunt, a track race, or a race to build a raft or complete a puzzle. These will encourage healthy motivation and competition but ensure that your team won’t still be at each others throats in the quest for the best come Monday morning back in the office.   

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