How to effectively collaborate when KPI's rule

As every good business owner knows, a little bit or competition in the workplace is essential. Competition promotes drive in employees and – as a result – causes business growth. There’s a difference between competition and healthy competition though and – in a workplace that requires KPIs to be met – it can be difficult to balance the need for competition with the benefits of teamwork.

Tips on how to deal with KPIs in the workplace

If competitiveness and meeting KPIs in the workplace is seen as the only way to advance in a career, people generally begin to play rough or cheat their way to success. Teamwork is often only seen as a means to an end in these types of environments, with people metaphorically treading over others to gain an advantage or even sabotaging others! Obviously, this is not an ideal or healthy work environment, but as an individual, how do you cope in an environment where KPIs rule?

Tip#1 Try to work only with people you like

Obviously, if you’re working with people you like who also like you, you’ll be more likely to collaborate effectively and help each other to reach goals. Avoid those who are too competitive.

Tip#2 Befriend your colleagues

If you develop friendships with those around you, they will be less likely to take advantage of you and vice versa.

Tip#3 Bolster team spirit

When working collaboratively, foster a sense of team pride to succeed. Make sure it’s not at the detriment of other teams though!

Tip#4 Assign clear roles

If you’re working in a group, it’s always a good idea to nominate roles to ensure strong leadership and equal division of labor. For a leadership role, ask the entire group to vote one person in so that the decision is based on an egalitarian choice, rather than simply allowing the most dominant person to take over.

Tip#5 Communicate clearly

Ensure each person within the group is aware of their own personal deadlines and let it be known that any member of the group who is having trouble can ask for assistance from their teammates. This way, no one is left behind, no one is blamed, and everyone succeeds.

Tip#6 Discuss issues immediately

Differing opinions are guaranteed in a collaborative setting and this is great; however, if people feel as though they aren’t being heard, things can get ugly. Give each individual a chance to have their say and resolve any disagreements immediately before moving on.

Tip#7 Walk away if it’s not working

If you are not compatible with the group you’re working with, don’t stay and let resentment fester. Try to join another group or ask if you can work independently for now. 

Tip#8 Share praise

This can be a tricky moment as some people may feel like they’ve put in more work than others; however, if you agree at the beginning to share praise and rewards equally, then everybody gets their fair share. Issues around a member not pulling their weight should have come up by now anyway, so if you feel a bit miffed, it’s likely your own fault for not speaking up sooner. Grin and bear it! If you need to decide authorship order on a project document, just use alphabetical order so there’s no argument.

Tip#9 Listen to your employees

If management is willing to listen to structural input from employees, it is certainly worth compiling information on the benefits of a team-based rewards system in order to present to them. If rewards are only ever given for the success of an entire group (if one of the groups isn’t doing well, the entire group suffers), there’s no excuses for individual advantage seeking. You HAVE to work together, helping those who aren’t doing as well, in order for the group to succeed. This is the ideal outcome, but not necessarily possible.

KPIs and Competition in the workplace

There’s not much that you can do about the attitudes of your colleagues. If they are hell bent on using others like a disposable crutch to bolster their own success, then that’s their moral loss. You can definitely remind them frequently that helping others to succeed will improve the success of the entire group; however, this may fall on deaf ears regardless.

So, if you’ve failed in convincing management and your colleagues about the benefits of a team-based rewards system and cooperative collaboration, it’s up to you collaborate effectively, while still meeting KPIs to ensure you don’t end up hurting yourself or others in the process.

The CFS Team
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