Handle Your Office Competition Like An Olympian
Competition is a given in offices everywhere, with you and your colleagues competing daily to demonstrate your worth, prowess and cutting-edge skillsets and snatch the gold medal of recognition. There’s jostling, elbowing, jumping through hoops and speeding through projects to clinch top spot – or just keep your job.
You have to be up for the action or risk getting kicked off the team. Given that cutbacks are so common and there are fewer spots on the corporate ladder, the office games can breed bad office behavior. Some competitors will resort to dirty antics – calling you out on a trivial oversight in front of your boss or taking credit for your work and ideas chip away at your job security, promotion opportunities and puts you way back in the running.
All eyes on the prize and things get ugly! Hey, Russia’s Olympic athletes were recently called out for doping – a prime example of how the ruthlessly competitive will stop at nothing to get all the glory.
So it’s best to keep your friends close and your work frenemies even closer. But keep in mind not all rivalry is bad. Actually, a little friendly competition can be good for business and make things interesting. Healthy competition that promotes collective goals can build rapport, improve working relationships and motivate workers to keep moving and exceed goals and expectations.
Studies show that competition fuels creativity and even improves the quality of the work produced. Innovative and medal-winning outcomes are dependant on employees who are great competitors – those who are driven, have a willingness to push boundaries, problem-solve and trust their own gut.
On the flip side, too much competition can be toxic – bruising egos, growing grudges, killing morale, causing stress, and encouraging backstabbing. Even the best competitor grows weary of always being hyper-vigilante and looking over one’s shoulder.
Standing out at the expense of others is never okay. When things get too competitive, communication between coworkers becomes poor or nonexistent. Colleagues shut down and no longer share ideas or success strategies when they don’t trust each other or worry teammates will take credit for their ideas.
So it’s game on! These common workplace competitors are hot on your heels:
• The Ice Hockey Player: Be on the alert because you never know when a body check is coming your way, whether it’s a snide remark during a staff meeting or a sarcastic email. This worker likes to take a punch and then skate away. Don’t throw your gloves off. Remain professional when interacting with him or her, and work out your differences. Seek out your manager or HR support if penalties continue.
• The Figure Skater: Don’t be fooled! This colleague appears poised and proper, but behind the scenes, this competitor is working hard to impress the judges and undercut your efforts. Successful collaboration requires documenting duties and critical conversations in order to avoid losing points down the road. Always share your original ideas, strategy, and contributions to your manager.
• The Snow Boarder: This one’s quick off the ramp to nab all of the high-profile assignments, leaving the less visible and less rewarding work to everyone else. To get the plum projects, proactively make your interests known. Volunteer for key assignments and regularly update your skillsets so you’re vital to the team and always a step ahead of the competition.
• The Freestyle Skier: This employee improvises and takes risks on the fly, with potential for injuries to the entire team. Being fluid and adaptable boosts creativity and collaborative efforts, but be sure this colleague doesn’t deviate from the well-thought-out plan or you’ll be along for a ride that doesn’t deliver.
• Short track speed skater: Prepare for a one-man show who moves fast and furious, trying to gain favour, with eyes on the prize and reckless disregard for others. This individual prizes speed over quality and will soon burn out or lose out because of sub-par work. Collective achievement always wins out over being an attention hog.
• Long track speed skater: This employee appears to be on track but the final work is too long coming. Collaborating with someone who can go the distance is always good but when deadlines are missed and there’s no finish line in sight, this can wipe out your reputation and promotion opportunities.
• The Bob Sledder: Likes to sit back and let things move forward but is the first to grab the gears and put on the brakes when they don’t like the direction. When it’s their way or no way, frustration, and stagnation slide in. Document direction and stay in control by piloting the course no matter the severe turns.