Coworker Competitiveness on the Rise

By Jeremy Morris, Associate Editor, US Daily Review.
With the Olympics just behind us, workplaces in Canada appear to be hosting competitions of their own, a new OfficeTeam survey suggests. Four in ten (40 per cent) senior managers interviewed said they believe employees are more competitive with each other today than they were 10 years ago. These results mirror those from a similar survey of senior executives conducted in 2008.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specialising in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 303 senior managers at Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

Managers were asked, “In your opinion, are employees more or less competitive with their coworkers than they were 10 years ago?” Their responses:

                                                2012         2008
                                                ----         ----
    Significantly more competitive ...........   15%           9%
    Somewhat more competitive ................   25%          29%
    No change ................................   39%          22%
    Somewhat less competitive ................   12%          28%
    Significantly less competitive ...........    3%           8%
    Don't know/no answer .....................    7%           4%
                                                ----         ----
                                                101%*      100%

    * Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

“A little friendly competition in the office is healthy if it inspires great individual and team performance,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Rivalry between coworkers can often become more intense when the economy is uncertain and people feel pressure to prove themselves. Although it’s natural for employees to want to stand out among their colleagues, it shouldn’t be at the expense of others.”

OfficeTeam identifies five types of workplace “competitors” that take it too far and provides tips for working with them effectively:

    1.  The Pole Vaulter. This person jumps to nab all of the high-profile
        assignments, leaving the less visible work to everyone else. To get
        the plum projects, proactively make your interests known. Volunteer
        for key assignments and acquire hard-to-find skills that make you
    2.  The Boxer. This worker has a jab for everyone -- whether it's a snide
        remark during a staff meeting or a sarcastic email. Don't succumb to
        this person's negativity. Remain professional when interacting with
        him or her, and try to work out your differences. If the behaviour
        doesn't stop, alert your manager or human resources department to the
    3.  The Sprinter. This person tries to curry favour by working quickly --
        even if the results are sloppy. Don't cut corners to compete with
        this individual. Instead, become known for delivering quality work.
    4.  The Gymnast. This employee bends and twists the facts, sometimes
        taking credit for others' work. When collaborating with this
        colleague, be sure to share your original ideas and contributions
        with your manager. Document the designation of duties and other
        critical conversations to avoid finger-pointing down the line.
    5.  The Marathoner. This person can go the full distance when it comes to
        spending time at the water cooler, sharing rumours with anyone who
        will listen. Although it can be useful to have a sense of the
        political undercurrents in your firm, avoid associating closely with
        office gossips, and don't share sensitive information with them.
All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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