Collaboration vs competition: what’s better for team success?

Sara Ana Cemazar
June 9, 2022
min read

Collaboration vs competition is an old debate. Is there a clear winner?

We believe that there is, but also that there are lessons to be learned from both ways of working together.

Find out what effects do these approaches have in the workplace!

Advantages and disadvantages of competition

Competition isn’t all that negative. In fact, there are many benefits that competitive spirit can bring in the workplace.

Authors of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing say that 25% of people aren’t affected by competitive environment, 25% wilt in it, and 50% actually benefit from competition. Benefits stem from pushing yourself to do better, which ultimately leads to better results for the team and company.

Traditionally, we’ve seen competition outweigh the collaboration in the “collaboration vs competition dilemma” for certain professions such as sales. Some of the advantages that competition could produce in the workplace include:

  • Innovation: Competition encourages people to seek out ways to beat their competitors, thus implementing new processes or using new technology to reach their goals faster.
  • Motivation: Highly competitive environment can push you out of your comfort zone and be a strong motivator to excel in your work. Being compared to your colleagues can push you to go the extra mile at work.
  • Improved performance: The combination of strong motivation and adopting new ways of working can push your limits and improve your performance in the workplace.
collaboration vs competition

However, competition with your colleagues wears you out. It’s simply not a sustainable strategy if you want strong employee retention and great company culture. Internal competition cannot yield long-term success.

Here’s why:

  • Stress: A healthy dose of competition can be motivating, but too much competition in the workplace can be stressful. With stress come absenteeism, disengagement, and poor team relationships.
  • Less learning opportunities: When you compete with your colleagues, there’s no opportunity to learn from them. You’re missing the chance to see how other people think and approach certain subjects.
  • Lack of trust: Trust is incredibly important for successful workplaces because it makes you feel secure. In such an environment, you can allow yourself to be creative and innovative, ultimately leading to more prosperous end-result.
  • Less diversity and inclusion: Research shows that men are less fearful of the risks inherent to competition, while women rather avoid competition altogether. Therefore, encouraging competition in the workplace can lead to poorer diversity and less inclusion.

5 reasons to foster collaboration instead of competition in the workplace

In the long run, collaboration vs competition dispute has a clear winner, at least when it comes to the effect that both have on teams and workplaces as a whole. Team collaboration is recognized as an important asset in organizations today, and businesses encourage it in their rows due to its many benefits.

1. Increased engagement and productivity

Employees are more engaged when included in collaborative work. The nature of collaboration - working together with others towards a common goal - makes you engaged itself. This also has an impact on productivity.

For example, research has shown that implementing collaborative processes has increased productivity by 30% in global software development teams.

2. Aligned performance

Employees and executives are very well aware of the effect that poor communication and collaboration have on them. Namely, 86% say that the lack of both is the main culprit for workplace failures.

Collaboration requires constant alignment within the group, meaning that everybody will put their work towards achieving common goals, thus creating high performing teams.

collaboration vs competition

3. Long-term effect on the team

Competition can be stressful and damaging to your health. In the world where retention is one of the biggest issues that companies face, eliminating stressors is vital.

The ability to collaborate makes 33% of employees more loyal, and 54% say that a strong sense of community has kept them at a company longer.

4. Knowledge sharing

There’s no doubt that workplace collaboration makes for a perfect knowledge sharing environment. People pick up hard skills from their colleagues, but they also improve their soft skills while collaborating.

Also, noticing others’ perspectives on the same subject can help employees adopt a more broad way of thinking in the future. Multiple points of view also ensure that the end-product is of higher quality that it could be if it’s designed by a single person.

5. Increased profitability

Deloitte’s research has found that collaborative strategies make businesses twice as likely to outgrow their competitors and 60% less likely to see decreased profitability over time.

collaboration vs competition

This is not a surprise. With advantages such as aligning team performance, increased engagement, strong employee retention, and intense knowledge-sharing, the cumulative results could only mean laser focus on end-goals, which in turn increases productivity, performance, and profitability.

Encourage team collaboration with the right tools

Collaboration vs competition debate has a clear winner, but there are still lessons to be learned from the effect that competition can have on teams. To put it simply,

you should effectively collaborate internally so you can successfully compete externally.

To beat your competitors on the market, it’s crucial to ensure smooth collaboration in your organization. This is impossible without the right tools for remote collaboration and team alignment.

Nowadays, chat apps are essential communication tools to organizations that operate across different industries.

Rocket.Chat enables teams to work on joint projects in an intuitive way via instant messaging platform that supports both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Working remote should not be an obstacle to successful collaboration - and Rocket.Chat ensures that everything goes smoothly. Even if you operate in a highly regulated industry like Government or Defense, you can use Rocket.Chat's secure collaboration platform to keep your data protected.

Find out why teams love Rocket.Chat and harness the power of collaboration with our chat platform.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Frequently asked questions about <anything>

collaboration and competition

Why is collaboration better than competition?

How do you change competitive culture to collaborative one?

Why is team collaboration sometimes hard to achieve?

Is workplace competition a bad thing?

Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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