Competition in the Workplace: How to Play So the Entire Team Wins

If you’re wondering if some of your coworkers are friends or rivals, you’re right to question. Nearly half of all managers polled in a Robert Half survey said coworker competition has increased in the past decade. While office rivalries can be beneficial by pushing employees to expand their horizons and work harder, smarter and more creatively, competition can also cause conflict, which can sink morale, damage productivity levels and breed ill will.

Here are some common workplace scenarios you might encounter — and tips for making sure the competition remains healthy:

The corporate ladder climb

Have you and a coworker found yourselves jostling for footing on your way up the corporate ladder?

Your coworker isn’t your competitor. You are. Should you lose a promotion to a colleague, don’t take it personally. Instead, transform insecurity into self-improvement by making a commitment to advance your existing skills and learn new ones. Be a good sport and use your coworker’s success as a source of motivation. Observe your colleague’s skills and strengths and build on your own so that you’ll be poised to take advantage of the next advancement opportunity.

The bonus battle

Everyone should take pride in the organization’s successes and reap the financial benefits born of teamwork and cooperation. Merit-based rewards, however, can pit you against your coworkers when there’s only so much to go around.

If competition in the workplace devolves into credit-stealing or sabotage, don’t stoop to these low levels. Instead, consider how you can win rewards without resorting to petty in-fighting. Ensure that you’ve thoroughly demonstrated your value to your supervisor by documenting your successes and the impact they’ve had on the bottom line. This is a much better way to spend your time than undermining others in an attempt to score a bigger bonus.

The survival of the fittest

Has a busy season brought out the ugly side of your team? Is everyone scrambling to impress management by racing through mountains of work? The end result may be sloppiness, conflict and burnout.

Under stressful conditions, it’s more important than ever to stick together. Help rally the troops together rather than letting everyone retreat to their cubicles to face the pressure alone. Suggest ways of working together and pitch in wherever you can. By remaining positive and dodging divisiveness, you’ll show your manager that you’re a problem solver and consummate team player who’s ready to take on new challenges.

Has competition in the workplace made your professional life challenging? How do you handle it? Tell us in the comments.

Related post: Work Friends: Who to Know, Who to Avoid