According to Wikipedia, a ‘turf war’ is defined as “a bitter struggle for territory or power or control or rights”. Often when we hear this phrase, we associate it with territories, as in the physical kind, like ‘you are on my turf so you better get back to your own neighborhood.’ I have not really come across it so much in my professional career but its presence is becoming increasingly apparent.
Turf wars at work are generally between teams or individuals within the same team. ‘This is a marketing function’ or ‘this is a sales function’. ‘This is my job and that’s your job.’ These are all telltale signs that turf wars are at play.
They are unproductive.
To say the least.
What comes as a result of a turf war? Departments working in silo for themselves not for the organization as a whole. It’s a big problem.
So why do we do it?
Perhaps in this market, we are increasingly fearful of ‘the other guy’. He/she may be better, faster, smarter so we don’t want to do anything to empower them, right? Bad answer.
The second you are in it for yourself, you are no longer a positive contributor to your team and more importantly, to your goals as an organization.
Even your own team is at jeopardy because you are spending so much time thinking about what the other guy is doing, that you are not focused on yourself. You are just trying to get an inch ahead of them every step of the way.
There is no easy ending to these things in most situations but the ending starts when you recognize what is going on. You may even be bold enough to stop it once you do but beware. Turf wars can get ugly especially if someone feels threatened.
The best organizations are built around team building and structure. Even if you are a solo entrepreneur, the second you start a turf war with a competitor, vendor or even someone internally at a client organization, you are heading into a downward spiral.
We all want to contribute. We all want the organization to be successful. We are all here to earn a living and enjoy doing it. We all want the best for ourselves. We all want our resumes to look good. We all want our bonus. We all want our team to win.
Can’t we just get along and support each other along the way?