How to Cope With Competition in Your Workplace
Competition is what most people dread especially because it makes them feel insufficient, to be always on their toes and put in the extra effort. Competition in a work setting is not a bad thing it is healthy for every organization but when the workplace turns into a war front, then it can become harmful.
Workers are encouraged by their superiors to go head-to-head with each other over promotions, bonuses, or certain privileges.
Competition arouses one of two emotions and they are excitement and anxiety. This arousal is dependent on how the individual interprets the situation. When competition is interpreted as a threat and anxiety is triggered, people become less creative and may find it difficult to come up with innovative ways to deal with problems. But when competition is interpreted as something exciting, people tend to put in the effort and come up with creative or innovative ways to solve problems. This means that how employers communicate competition plays a huge in how people interpret it.
What then is healthy competition?
Healthy competition is a situation or setting that permits everyone to work together and promotes fighting for higher achievement yet creates a healthy environment where everyone is allowed to do well without anyone wishing to sabotage another.
Importance of competition in the workplace :
- It leads to employees taking on more responsibility – People tend to strive more when there is a rival and a reward in place. So competition is one of the ways to cure laziness in the workplace.
- It increases psychological and physiological activation – when there is a competition, people tend to think better, trying to come up with ways to beat their competition at the game, especially when there is a reward involved. People love acknowledgment and praise.
- Productivity will be on the increase – Innovation brings about productivity. When there is healthy competition, there are more ideas to better the company and more ideas lead to productivity.
- It helps employees take risks-when people are faced with competition, they tend to come out of their comfort zone and do things they wouldn’t naturally do.
How to cope with competition in the workplace :
Accept the existence of competition – You have to accept that competition is unique to your workplace, it exists everywhere, no matter what job you want to take up. Settle this in your mind, get comfortable with it and strategize on how to handle it.
Assess the situation – you have to be sure there is no misunderstanding. Study your colleagues, get to know them and how they work. Sometimes you can misunderstand people until you get to know them.
Be direct with the person – Communications is sometimes the solution when a colleague is taking things too far. In some cases, people can be hurting others and are not aware of it. You can ask the person to grab a coffee or a meal with you. Don’t be too sensitive. Point out facts with examples, don’t make things up, and then listen to hear the person’s opinion on that. Their opinion will help order your next steps.
Make them an ally – Look at the good aspects of their endeavors and try to befriend them. Acknowledge it when they do something good or come up with good ideas. Be also willing to work with them to achieve it if possible. Since they are your “comparison other” watch and follow their lead. Try to find out what they are doing that is making them more relevant than you are and emulate them. You can even have them as a model for your work. They can be your motivation to improve yourself. Always ask yourself what they are right and do so, instead of feeling frustrated and seeing them as a threat.
Use competition as an opportunity to improve your skills – see competition at work as a good thing, take advantage of it, and see it as an opportunity for you to improve or hone your skills. Expand your knowledge about the business, take online classes, or you can even get an employee to teach you but make sure you are growing. Doing so makes your superiors see or know that you have the skills to handle certain tasks, that you deserve certain privileges, or even a promotion. You shouldn’t believe that if someone else succeeds then you have failed.
Instead of focusing continuously on hindering each, instead, shift the attention to yourself. Compete with yourself and get better. Compete with your previous achievements.
Have integrity as a standard – Every organization desires integrity as a key value for their employees. No matter how competitive things get don’t be shady. Because you will eventually be exposed and what you wanted will not be yours and in some extreme cases you may be fired. So stick to accountability and fairness.
Build alliances – this does not mean creating divisions or forming your own little army, no, it means you should have a good rapport with everyone. Be the connection between different units and departments not by encroaching into their jobs but by friendship.
Correspond in writing – Have proof of every transaction with a competitive colleague. This is important for any future crisis so you are not thrown under the bus. Protect your ideas and information.
Get a Mentor – A lot of people who made it always speak of having someone who guided them in their journey to success. So you can get a mentor who is an expert at what you are doing and they will not just hone your skills but also help to keep your head in the game when things get frustrating or tough.
Ask to move teams– this solution is for when the heat between you and the competition is much and there is no other solution. You can ask your manager or whoever is in charge that you want to move to another department or team. You must have in mind that. It doesn’t mean that there will be no competition there too, but if you are too uncomfortable and can’t work effectively, this can be the best option.
Implement your right – if a colleague is competing unfairly, maybe by stealing your ideas, or sabotaging you, you can report the person for investigations to the Human resource department and wait for the result without engaging in any physical or verbal war with the individual.
Quit your job – this is in worst-case scenarios where you can’t cope with the environment anymore and it’s limiting your output. A happy person works more efficiently, so seek your happiness as a priority. If the differences with the colleague or the working environment cannot be resolved, this is an option to explore. But let this be the last resort instead of the first.
Competition among employees is almost unavoidable but it can be harnessed to the advantage of both employees and employers. But to achieve that employers shouldn’t lead with fear because it will only elicit anxiety which will make employees less innovative or even begin to sabotage their colleagues to get ahead.