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Monday, December 19, 2011

‘Sibling’ Rivalry at Work

While most us will have gone through our early childhood as best of friends with our siblings, many have had to endure the rivalry that exists between children in the same family. The competition for the parents’ attention is high and the pressure to outdo the other is great. Most of the siblings would go to great heights to ensure they emerge as the favorites while their siblings end up in failure. But as much as rivalry among siblings had been considered negative, it also comes with its positive bag of goodies.

There is a replay of the home rivalry at work. While most of the competition among siblings is instigated by the kids who feel either left out or not appreciated, there are times when parents engineer such competition. At work, it is also known that many employers develop mechanisms to pit one department against another. You would have competition among two marketing teams, each with clear targets and objectives. The performance of one team is measured against the performance of the other. This is meant to encourage the teams to be creative, flexible and play ball better as a team.

When companies set you up for competition, there is little you can do since the performance of one team would always be used to explain why you should not have been unable to meet certain targets. There is no way you would say the market was harsh when your competing team is making great sales in the same environment. This is super for enhancing team commitment and play at work.

I recently overheard of a company that would produce two similar products targeted at the same market. The idea was to have the different product teams work out ways of ensuring they make inroads into the same market through different client products. This was tough. Why not produce products for different markets than make teams in the same company compete? The logic is simple. The client would be interested in the product and since clients work best with choices, give them the choice to make between product B and P, although they are not significantly different. How many brands of Yoghurt do we see teams competing to sell from the same company?

Since there is little that an employee would in most cases do to alter the strategy of the employer, it is wise to seek for ways of seeing the beauty in the beast. Seek to consolidate your team and develop strategies to win the clients over to your side. You will want to dialogue as teams to ensure you do not clash at the market place. As much as the clients may not get to know of the clash, there would the possibility of developing bad blood between the teams that could make the noble idea of team competition collapse. 

As a team player, concentrate on the product you are selling and not necessarily talking ill of your team mates’ products. In the long run, remember you are from the same parent and the umbilical cord from whence both of you get their nourishment is the same. Compete at peace.


  1. I find the presentation on this blog to be very effective in relaying the intended message. definitely laudable!!

  2. My comment is related to your article in the January 7th 2012 Saturday Nation which was spot on! The detriments to excellence that you mention have too often led to having a pack of uninspired workers, lacklustre performance and losses to employers invest in developing people in areas that they have little interest in. Excellent article. Keep it up.



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