A little friendly competition in the workplace can lead to positive results. But, what happens when it goes too far? Is it really possible to be too competitive? The simple answer: yes. When competitiveness gets out of hand, the results can be detrimental for any workplace, including a drop in morale, an increase in stress, and a rift in relationships. If you think your competitiveness may be crossing the line, take a look at the tips below.
Don’t compare yourself to others
In reality, there’s always going to be someone better than you. It doesn’t matter what you do, there’s likely someone who can do it better, faster, or more efficiently. While striving to be the best at your job is healthy and can help you reach your goals, be careful when it comes to comparing yourself to others. Steve Lowell, manager of Voice123.com, a marketplace for voiceover talent, says, “Success should be measured in the form of self-defined goals.” Instead of focusing on what your co-workers may or may not be accomplishing, set goals for yourself that help you stand out in a healthy way.
Working as a team can help you keep your competitive nature in check. In fact, according to Marilee Sprenger, author of The Leadership Brain for Dummies, “Working together and helping each other releases brain chemicals that enhance motivation, pleasure, and bonding.” Instead of pitting yourself against a co-worker, try to find ways you can work together. This allows you to use your strengths and determination to reach a common goal, and includes others in your mission.
Build your confidence
Do you overexert your competitive spirit as a result of feeling inferior in some way? For example, if you aren’t confident with your ability to sell a product, do you find yourself pushing yourself past your limits to outdo a co-worker’s sales quota—all the while making yourself sick with stress? Instead, take time to build up your confidence. Consider learning a new skill, taking a class, or earning a certification in an area you wish to improve. When you grow your strengths, you’re likely to focus less on your weaknesses and avoid invoking unhealthy competition.
Don’t bring others down
It’s easy to want to be the best. And, if you do happen to outperform a competitor, it’s a natural instinct to feel a sense of pride. But, be careful not to let that pride get the best of you. React positively to your accomplishments—and your failures—so you can lift up those around you. If a co-worker is trying to accomplish their goals, whether it’s to obtain a professional certification, land a promotion, or increase sales, encourage them. It may be difficult to put your pride aside and wish them luck, but rooting against your colleagues can seriously damage your work environment.
Not everyone likes competition
Everyone is different. Some people thrive off of stress and work well under pressure, while others prefer a calm work environment to perform at their best level. Recent research found that while 50% of workers benefit from competition, another 25% actually shut down in a competitive environment. That means that one in four people don’t perform well when faced with competition. Given that, it is possible that being too competitive in the workplace can hurt not only yourself, but your co-workers as well.
Remember, not all competition is productive. While trying to make the most sales calls can lead to an increase in productivity, attempting to be the first to a meeting or visiting the coffee pot the most times in a day likely will not lead to positive results. Besty Winkler, from PeopleResults, suggests, “Focus on what drives business results, not all of the activities underway.”