The topic of competition among teams was discussed in class last week. I consider myself a competitive person and enjoy games, sports, and activities where I’m part of a team competing against other teams. I spoke last night about how competition can serve as a motivating factor for me within the group, especially if we all have the same performance objective. Competition and cooperation can lead to stronger group cohesion if goals stay task-focused and members are open/respectful to new ideas and ways of doing things. Levi argues “Cooperation, trust, and safety are preconditions for allowing constructive controversy to occur” (pg. 90). Once an individuals brings in personality conflicts to the mix (or hidden agendas), group cohesion is disrupted and issues of mistrust, commitment, and confusion become destructive. In other words, healthy competition needs to stay performance/task based (Levi, 2014, pgs. 96-97).
In our last staff meeting, my supervisor announced that there will be three senior advisor positions opening up in the next few weeks. If a current advisor has had at least three performance evaluations (aka been here 3 years or more), he or she is eligible to apply for the senior advising position. Our staff is made up of about 20+ advisors. The positions are also going to be open to other departmental advisors across the university. Therefore, I imagine there will be a lot of internal competition occurring for three coveted positions even within my own business advising unit. My business advising team consists of 3 people. However, only 2 of us are eligible to apply for the senior advisor position. I’m reminded of Levi’s argument that “Internal competition among teams within an organization can lead to sabotaged work, unjustified criticism, and withholding of information and resources” (pg. 88). Of course, my colleague and I are totally supportive and encouraging to one another and I can’t imagine any of the negative side effects happening that Levi discusses in his chapter. We both get along great, but I wonder what kind of conflicts these career ladder opportunities may have within my department and possibly the university.
I see this type of example being an individual motivating factor that can help the organization overall; however, individual/internal competition can hinder successful teamwork if there are breakdowns in communication and trust within the team. Levi’s chapters on cooperation and competition provided clarity about healthy vs. unhealthy competition and helped me explore ways of dealing with the negative effects of competition within my own work environment.