Corporate cultures are competitive by nature. You don’t have to hurt yourself in a competitive 10K race or win the contest to raise money for charity to see it. The competitions are everywhere. Most organizations don’t admit that the culture is competitive or cutthroat. The word competitive doesn’t show up in vision statements. More likely, the culture is supposed to be collaborative and trusting. But wait, don’t blame the corporation, we compete ever day at work and we have both the organization and ourselves to blame.
One competition that can exist but I never want to win is who can send the most emails on a weekend or while on vacation. Another competition to avoid is who has the most frequent flyer miles. Other activities are ones in which you may want to compete, like who can make the most sales pitches, show up at the office the earliest or generate the most billable hours. Winning the competition of who can go to the most meetings may or may not be an honor.
The benefits to winning these competitions could include promotions, raises and respect in the organization. Winning these contests could establish you as a leader and a “fast tracker” – the one who carries the organization forward. The other side of the coin is that you are seen as the jerk who is always competing and making others look bad or that you are the one who turns everything into a completion with your co-workers. There are plenty of words to describe this person; most begin with the letter A. When it comes to competition with your colleagues, be sure you are the kind of competitor you want to be.
Sometimes the competitions at work are the ones we have with our self. Here are just a few questions to consider. If you answer yes to any, you are competing with yourself. I hope you win..
- Can you empty email faster than the messages come in?
- Can you participate in a conference call; work on email, and baby-sit all at the same time?
- Can you talk on your cell phone and handle emails and texts on the same device at the same time?
- Can you visit with your local barista more than three times a day without getting the jitters?
- Can you take a vacation without feeling guilty?
- Can you say no to the FREE doughnuts and red licorice?
- Can you make a TO-DO list while you are in a staff meeting?
Competitions at work exist. Some are with others and some are a personal challenge just to see if we can do it. Some competitions may not be healthy or make us more productive but they do exist and sometimes the goal is not to win but survive.
What competitions are you competing in (or avoiding)?