Competitive or Collaborative Culture – Which is Better?

Competitive or Collaborative Culture within a staff

Competitive or Collaborative Culture in the Workplace
When designing the ideal organizational culture to best execute your business and people strategies, what is the best balance between healthy competition to motivate performance and smart collaboration to ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?  As a leader, how do you know when a competitive or collaborative culture is better?

The Benefits of a Competitive Workplace Culture
Some of the most successful companies are known for their hyper-competitive cultures that put results first.  At Accenture and McKinsey the motto is “up or out.”  You either continue to perform and advance or it is time to go.  At GE, Jack Welch famously created a performance culture that weeded out the bottom ten percent of employees each year.  Amazon’s culture is often described as “Purposeful Darwinism” where only the most relentless and high performing survive.

Many leaders and employees tell us that this competitive approach to workplace culture is compelling because it seems to motivate, fine tune, and increase employee performance through clear performance standards, rewards and consequences.  Don’t we all want to work with “A” players striving to perform at their peak?

The Downside of Competitive Workplace Cultures
There are downsides to hyper-competitive cultures associated with negative workplace stresses, ethical breaches in ethics, and increased risks.  For example, many competitive cultures use stacked ranking to compare the performance of employees against each other.  In these environments, employees report that they tend to focus on individually winning at all costs instead of on the best interests of their co-workers or for the organizations as a whole.   Employees also report that competitive cultures encourage a belief system where results too strongly outweigh desired corporate values and behavioral norms.

Just look at what happened when:

The Benefits of a Collaborative Workplace Culture
A collaborative corporate culture encourages individuals, teams and functions to work together to achieve common goals.  These collaborative workplace cultures are typically characterized by high levels of trust, empowerment, healthy conflict and learning.

In fact our best places to work employee engagement research, tells us that collaboration and teamwork continually rates in the top quartile in terms of improving employee advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay.  When collaboration is embedded into a company’s or a team’s fabric, the results can be amazing.

The Downside of a Collaborative Workplace Culture
While most of us have been taught that working in teams is the best way to get the job done, our clients continue to lament the difficulties associated with working on teams to get important tasks done.  While high performing teams can be game changing for everyone involved, most teams report struggling to deliver extraordinary results in the way they originally intended.

It can be highly disengaging for high performers to get bogged down in dysfunctional team dynamics due to unclear goals, roles, success metrics, and processes.  And as teams get larger, the levels of frustration, duplication of effort and underutilization of capabilities seem to grow exponentially. In other words, when collaboration works, it can be extraordinary.  But when it doesn’t, the results can have widespread negative affects at the personal and company levels.

So, Is a Competitive or Collaborative Culture Better?
It depends on how work needs to get done to execute your strategy and if you are willing to do what it takes to fully align your desired culture with that strategy.  A competitive culture works for companies like Amazon because the culture and strategy are fully aligned to deliver customer excellence.  On the other hand, if your strategy calls for teamwork across functions, individual competition may hinder your ability to execute your strategy.

The Bottom Line
First, as a leader, be clear about what constitutes strategic success at the company, team and individual levels.  Then ensure that you define how you expect those results to best be achieved in terms of behaviors, values and beliefs.  Finally, align your performance management and reward systems with the cultural norms you need to live to achieve your strategy.

To learn more about the nuances of a competitive or collaborative culture, download The Science behind How Much Leaders Should Push for Higher Performance

Share:
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email LinkedIn

Comments are closed.

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

Mike Normant
Learning & Development

ebay

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

Each program is preceded by an assessment of the participants. The course is then designed to fit the specific parameters and needs of the group. The highly interactive delivery is provided by recognized experts in their fields. On the spot coaching is provided during the program and each participant receives individual follow-up after the course. Courses can be delivered in-person or virtually. Given the nature of Cisco’s business and the way we operate, these remote workshops are a must for anyone who joins our company. Their work is eye opening. Great content and fantastic delivery.

Frank J. Kuypers
Business Development Manager

I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.

Maya Paul
HR Director

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.

Ken Boehm
VP of Human Resources

SeaTel has found our partnership with LSA Global to be very valuable and beneficial. We turned to LSA to customize a supervisory/leadership solution to meet our needs. LSA delivered a customized top quality solution. I’d recommend LSA Global to any company looking for a best-in-class training and consulting partner.

Kortney Riddle
HR Manager

We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

I highly recommend LSA Global to anyone who is looking to improve individual or organizational effectiveness through their top quality programs and broad range of expertise.

Greg Pappas
VP of Human Resources

We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More