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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

The Mindset Change You Need if You Work in a Competitive Company

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Imagine this: Your manager ranks everyone on your team and shares the numbers.

Too scared to think about that scenario? Well, it happened to me. At one company I worked at, management numerically ranked us on our work efforts each year.

Competition in the workplace is often inevitable. And, while some leaderships view competition as a technique to maximize production, the truth is that it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. It’s a good thing to be a dedicated employee and want to produce solid work, but you don’t have to do that at the expense of battling it out with your co-workers.

My advice? Do everything you can to avoid the drama attached to office rivalries. Plus, there’s a far better way to thrive in your career—and I explain it all below.

Evaluate the Playing Field

Think of your peers as a team with each person playing their own position. Notice who excels at what. Instead of comparing your abilities to theirs, make an effort to embrace, honor, and applaud their efforts—chances are, they’ll do the same for you if you set an example.

A solid, well-rounded team flourishes most when there’s a diverse range of skill sets, not to mention a collaborative, supportive work environment.

Identify Your Position

Think of a space that’s uniquely yours, setting you apart from everyone else at the office. Maybe it’s efficiently pulling and analyzing data, being unshakable in tough conversations with customers, excelling in negotiating prices or possessing a business network with an insurmountable number of contacts. Consider areas where you’ve received compliments, been the go-to expert, or even won awards. It can be really difficult, especially early in your career, to pinpoint what you bring to the table.

If you’re having trouble identifying your top strengths, keep in mind that we often find success in the same areas in which we take delight.

By this, I mean the things you genuinely enjoy participating in. Reflect on the moments in which you seem to find yourself in exceptionally high spirits—what types of projects were you working on at that time? Once you recognize your strong suits, embrace cohesiveness over contention by promoting your gifts while partnering with those who compliment your shortcomings.

Shoot for the Goal

Consider your “why”—beyond a paycheck and possible promotion, why do you clock in every day? Let this lead you toward setting goals. For example, my “why” is “to empower people toward career fulfillment.” That led me to a short-term goal of recruiting for a company that takes pride in offering its employees abundant career opportunities in addition to an impressive work environment.

My long-term goal involves demonstrating a direct connection between company culture and revenue growth in order to influence companies to treat their employees better.

Once you begin to better understand yourself, you’ll realize you’re probably aiming toward different goals than your peers, hence eliminating the drive to compete. Of course, in many industries, it may appear you have the same goals on paper as one or more of your colleagues, but remember that there’s a reason two of you (or 10 of you) were hired for this role. Even if you’re trying to accomplish similar things, you’re bringing different skills and ways of doing it to the playing field.

Play Your Position to the Best of Your Ability

Consider in what way your individual talents fit into the puzzle that makes your team successful. Alleviate the stress to duplicate by concentrating on pushing your strong points forward which will in turn aid the team. Uncover business problems with solutions that align with your gifts.

Use your distinct skills to modify inefficient and ineffective processes that may be in place. Don’t be afraid to stand out and lend a hand to your peers as teamwork often trumps separation. And remember to record your successes on an up-to-date resume and on your LinkedIn page.

We’ve all witnessed the toll that stress in the workplace can take on a person’s well-being. There’s value in appreciating the contributions of your colleagues. Instead of competing against each other, we can co-exist by complimenting each other’s abilities with our own.