Forget the Pecking Order at Work

Forget the pecking order that exists at work, says Margaret Heffernan, international businesswoman, in her TED talk.  Almost everything in our business-educated selves wants to reject this theory. After all, aren’t structure and organization vital items needed for businesses to thrive? Heffernan puts it in simple and convincing terms for us.

To illustrate her point, she draws upon the study of Purdue University biologist William Muir. Muir wanted to study productivity using chickens. He observed chickens and broke them up into two groups. One group was made entirely of chickens who produced eggs at an average rate. The other group was made of “super-chickens,” the highest producing chickens in each of his previous observation groups. When it was time to compare the productivity of the two, the average group did as was expected. Yet, the super-chicken group pecked each other to death with only a few surviving the ego-driven massacre. What does this mean for us humans in business?

Ego Kills

I’m sure we can all name at least one person whose ego enters the room before they do. Some large egos even seem justified. If you were a Nobel prize winning scientist, I’m sure an ego would seem acceptable. But, to be truly successful, please check all egos at the door.

No Superchickens

Sometimes, you might be THE super-chicken…and other times, you might be one of many super-chickens. However, making this distinction can be detrimental to the success of your business. Super-chickens and superstars in the groups aren’t needed; everyone in the group is needed. There is no need to outshine each other. There is a need to shine together.

Bringing Out the Best in Others, Brings Out the Best In You

Unfortunately, one person does not excel at everything. Even worse, pointing out the shortcomings of those around you makes you look even worse and incompetent. The going will get rough, and when it does, humans need support and know who to ask for help. Otherwise, the group/work environment implodes and efficiency takes a nose-dive.

Coordinated Break Times

There are actual studies, and cold hard numbers, that show productivity and employee satisfaction rise when coworkers spend time together at work not necessarily talking about work. It demonstrates the importance of time in trust building and compounding human capital. The longer people are around each other with social interaction, the better the synergy.

We have been taught to compete. We learn that we reach the top only through severe competition and emerging victorious. Yet, this is scientifically proven as non-motivational for the better part of the masses. We can peck each other to death, but who will be left? Ensure that you become a team at work for maximum productivity. Teamwork does make the dream work!


Ashley Morales is a Marketing Intern at C2G Partners.