Does your firm work as a team?

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Woman and man with toy pistolsWhen I had my first interview with Co-Communications, Account Manager Danielle Cyr, looked me straight in the eye with an icy glare and said: “We are not competitive here. Are you competitive?”

After I almost wet myself out of sheer fear of Danielle (we are best buds now, don’t worry!), I thought “yeah, I am competitive! I used to dance, horseback ride, play the violin, compete in pageants. I love competition.”

Danielle went on to further explain. She had seen the ugly-side of competitive at other jobs. She had seen cutthroat, death-stare, whispering behind backs competition.

With any job, one needs serious drive. One needs to want the prize. One needs to succeed! But it is my firm belief that at any point such drive leads you to hamper a colleague’s success then you’ve gone too far. Karma’s . . . well, you know.

At Co-Communications, we have a staff of ten. I know at any point I can call Kelly to review a media list I’ve done in an area she covers heavily. I know I can shoot an e-mail to Stacey asking about a client concern. My favorite; I can scream like a little girl and Jess will come running in to kill the spider on my desk. It is in this environment I know I thrive. And I will always reciprocate (as long as it doesn’t involve killing a bug.)

At a firm where you know your colleagues have your back and want to see you succeed for the better of the entire company, often times said success is achieved. Your co-worker in the office next-door went to college and still keeps in touch with the producer at a news station a client is trying to get on. Can you ask about it? Does your company culture dictate that it’s ok for you to ask him or her for a favor with that producer?

I know I’ve seen my co-workers and I land some fantastic media placements and achieve streamlined productivity because of the helpful and team-focused nature we have. I’m not saying bend over backwards and allow a co-worker to walk all over you like a doormat. But you must find a mutual respect and balance when helping one another out. Never forget to return the favor!

Do you have any great anecdotes about how your firm/company succeeded because of selfless team work? Or any failed campaigns or tasks because of “ugly competitiveness” (uh, hi, Erin vs. Olivia). How can we strive to help our teams when this “ugly” rears its head?

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  • http://twitter.com/brenleigh Brenda Drake

    LOVE this post Kate! I know as an “internal” PR gal, it's so convenient to say that so-and-so is responsible for graphic design and so-and-so is responsible for copy writing, etc, etc. When we lose that mentality and say “I'll help you if I can and if I can't then I'll talk to a team member and see what we can come up with,” everyone is happier and our team is much more functional.

    As a side note, is it only women who experience the cut-throat competitiveness? Are men more or less apt to speak up to help a team member?

  • http://twitter.com/TomOKeefe1 Tom O'Keefe

    Great post, Kate.

    I think it's OK to be competitive, but not with your co-workers. You should be competing to get your client the very best. How do you get your client the best? You work as a team, cohesively. You need to help each other, share resources, and bring out the best in each other to be a better agency that meets its clients' needs.

    Again, good post!

    Thanks,

    Tom
    @TomOKeefe1

  • http://www.cocommunications.com/ Jess Lyon

    The “co” in Co-Communications stands for collaboration, cooperation, coordination, community and commitment and your post illustrated these are not just words to us but a way of life :-) Nice job Kate!

  • @jaykeith

    Good post Kate, I think mostly it depends on the culture (and to some extent size) of the place/agency, but also the individuals you work with. I know that at my last job at an agency, I had come up with a pitch idea, wrote the pitch, and then the team split it up and started going to work. It was a team full of guys (and a sports related account). One of the members landed ESPN the Magazine, which was a huge win for the account. When asked by the manager in a meeting how he got the placement, he said he had taken my pitch and hit send, that was it. The reporter loved it and wanted to run with it. So in that instance, I got the credit that was deserved. I can say that that wasn't always the case, and it did sometimes happen with male counterparts. Sometimes you can try and recapture the “credit” but oftentimes, the opportunity is lost. The bottom line is that everyone wants to look good, and sometimes people steal the credit or spotlight in order to advance themselves, it's just a part of life.

    But usually, if you deflect credit to others (and the team) when big wins are secured, that will be reciprocated later on down the line. Establishing that tone early is always a good idea and shows that you're focused on the team and just getting results. That kind of behavior will always be recognized and rewarded over the long run.

  • http://twitter.com/KOttavio Kate Ottavio

    Great topic, Brenda!

    I think men and women experience a pretty even amount of competitiveness in the workplace. Women might get more of a nasty reaction/reputation because we are stereotypically seen as catty. What do you think? I'd love to hear from the guys on this one too.

    Thank you very much for the comment

  • http://twitter.com/brenleigh Brenda Drake

    LOVE this post Kate! I know as an “internal” PR gal, it's so convenient to say that so-and-so is responsible for graphic design and so-and-so is responsible for copy writing, etc, etc. When we lose that mentality and say “I'll help you if I can and if I can't then I'll talk to a team member and see what we can come up with,” everyone is happier and our team is much more functional.

    As a side note, is it only women who experience the cut-throat competitiveness? Are men more or less apt to speak up to help a team member?

  • http://twitter.com/TomOKeefe1 Tom O'Keefe

    Great post, Kate.

    I think it's OK to be competitive, but not with your co-workers. You should be competing to get your client the very best. How do you get your client the best? You work as a team, cohesively. You need to help each other, share resources, and bring out the best in each other to be a better agency that meets its clients' needs.

    Again, good post!

    Thanks,

    Tom
    @TomOKeefe1

  • http://www.cocommunications.com/ Jess Lyon

    The “co” in Co-Communications stands for collaboration, cooperation, coordination, community and commitment and your post illustrated these are not just words to us but a way of life :-) Nice job Kate!

  • @jaykeith

    Good post Kate, I think mostly it depends on the culture (and to some extent size) of the place/agency, but also the individuals you work with. I know that at my last job at an agency, I had come up with a pitch idea, wrote the pitch, and then the team split it up and started going to work. It was a team full of guys (and a sports related account). One of the members landed ESPN the Magazine, which was a huge win for the account. When asked by the manager in a meeting how he got the placement, he said he had taken my pitch and hit send, that was it. The reporter loved it and wanted to run with it. So in that instance, I got the credit that was deserved. I can say that that wasn't always the case, and it did sometimes happen with male counterparts. Sometimes you can try and recapture the “credit” but oftentimes, the opportunity is lost. The bottom line is that everyone wants to look good, and sometimes people steal the credit or spotlight in order to advance themselves, it's just a part of life.

    But usually, if you deflect credit to others (and the team) when big wins are secured, that will be reciprocated later on down the line. Establishing that tone early is always a good idea and shows that you're focused on the team and just getting results. That kind of behavior will always be recognized and rewarded over the long run.

  • http://twitter.com/KOttavio Kate Ottavio

    Great topic, Brenda!

    I think men and women experience a pretty even amount of competitiveness in the workplace. Women might get more of a nasty reaction/reputation because we are stereotypically seen as catty. What do you think? I'd love to hear from the guys on this one too.

    Thank you very much for the comment