Complementarity, not Competition


Building corporate culture is a game. But a very serious one.

Competition is one of the main reasons 90% of employees hate their workplace. It's restless, it's endless, and it's not even the most productive type of corporate culture. Building the culture of complementarity instead of competition improves output and employee wellbeing all at once. The steps to building the culture of complementarity are: 1. stopping the competition momentum, 2. making the decision to change direction all together, but individually, and 3. letting the enabling processes form freely.



Don't take U-turns at 100 km/h
First, stop the competitive culture momentum

Whether you built it consciously or not, corporate culture is already present in the workplace. And, in order to change it, you should first stop the current momentum. For it is never a good idea to take a U turn while going at 100 km/h. A simple agreement with employees to consciously observe each other to stop the momentum of competition is a good idea. By contrast, it is always very hard, if not impossible, to self-observe at work. Especially in the beginning. The only thing to make sure is that no one gets offended when offered insights into their actions. Make it a game, but a very serious one.




Give a compass of direction to all employees individually

Second, approach the direction individually

A journey of 100 miles starts with the first step. Make an agreement with each individual employee to start moving towards the culture of complementarity. Corporate culture is built by, for, and of employees. Not processes or benefit plans, although both add (or take away) a lot of value to the culture. Practice makes perfect, and practicing complementing each other’s functions and daily tasks gradually builds the culture. It is important not to start with big changes to functions and accountability, as it only makes change unnecessarily hard. Inspiration is key to success, thus, individual employee conversations are an irreplaceable means. Discuss how everyone on the team could start exercising the culture of complementarity right off the bat. And back off to let the processes form.



Don't sweat over processes too much
Third, let the processes form freely

In order for the culture to function in the workplace, processes and proceedings are needed. The best idea is to let them form organically by setting the direction and backing off. Adjusting and adapting to employee feedback makes change fun for everyone, and forms more sustainable processes, as they are practically-tested, not theoretically-described. Oftentimes, HRD’s see this type of flexibility as a sign of weakness, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Keeping the doors and the minds open in this case only proves the unquestionable firmness of direction. It is always a better idea to have the right direction set as opposed to having rigid structures which are theoretically supposed to keep everyone on the right path.


Competition was an important part of the XIX c. workplace. Moving into the XXI c. workplace, complementarity of employees becomes much more vital to the overall success on results. Want to grow your Corporate Self in the complementarity direction or think your company could benefit from complementarity-oriented Corporate Therapy sessions? Contact our leading corporate therapist, and let’s talk how: www.yobusiness.eu/contacts