We’re all in this together

There’s a lot of competition in the workplace.  Individuals compete for recognition and salary increases, teams compete for budget, products compete to stay alive, companies compete with each other.  It’s very easy to find yourself believing that seeing others fail is somehow good in that it protects you.

It doesn’t, and if you want to understand why, take a look at how professional athletes respond when an opposing team member is injured, or a team falls victim to a scandal which rocks their league.  Nobody cheers and says, “Great, he’s broken his leg, he may never play again, we might have a better chance of winning.”  Nobody says, “I’m so glad this whole steroid thing makes that team look bad; it makes me look so much better.”

They understand that whatever weakens their industry weakens them all, and they understand that anything that can happen to one player can just as easily happen to another.

Just like them, we’re all on the same boat.  If someone on your team looks bad, congratulations, you aren’t the worst person on your team.  It’s much better to be known as a productive member of a stellar team, than the lone superstar on a poor team.  Likewise, if things go poorly, are you really going to care that your product got torpedoed because of how bad “the other team” was?  Some consolation that will be as you all start frantically updating LinkedIn and searching for new jobs.

Not only that, we all know change is constant.  If you think of your company in terms of “us and them,” don’t be surprised if tomorrow one of “them” is on your team, or you are on “their” team.

Remember, in the executive’s eyes, ever single one of us is just one of “them.”  Why introduce artificial competition?  Our jobs are hard enough.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 J Grosbach on 07.24.08 at 8:00 pm

The flipside, and something I struggle with a great deal, is recognizing when someone else is in that “us vs them” mindset. I’m (usually) able to maintain a “we’re in this together” perspective, but I’m terrible at spotting when the person(s) I’m dealing with isn’t, and I get blindsided by how people react because of that. My underlying assumptions are invalid, and therefore I am ineffective in how I interact with them.