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Are You Competing With Co-Workers? [AUDIO]

Do you often feel like you’re in the middle of a heated athletic event when you’re at work? If you do, you’re not alone.

Office Workers
Flickr User Victor 1558

A new survey finds that nearly half of senior managers at companies in the United States think their employees are more competitive with each other than they were ten years ago. Only 4 percent of those surveyed think employees are less competitive with one another.

Experts blame the uncertainty of a tight job market and the high unemployment rate.

There are many more workers than jobs which means more people are feeling threatened by their peers. While the atmosphere results in many people trying to stand out individually, it can often come at the expense of succeeding as a group especially in office environments that focus on teamwork and collaboration.

“We’ve had a very long recession and there are stories abounding of people who not only lose their jobs, but can’t find jobs so I can understand the pressure, but there is the downside in that teamwork and effective decision making often can’t happen if co-workers don’t trust one another,” said Rutgers Sociology Professor Deborah Carr. “A little bit of friendly competition always helps people to stay on their toes. But I think people really need to be careful about not being hyper-competitive because if they’re known as the person who steals other people’s ideas, the boss may recognize that and might fear that his or her ideas might someday be stolen.”

So, how can you set yourself apart from your peers without coming across as a narcissist?

“Corporations really need to set a culture that teaches that success for the group is good for the individual as well. As more businesses use group-based approaches to their projects and decision-making, each individual really has to bring their own best work, but they have to treat others well and try to encourage good work on the parts of their co-workers,” said Carr. “It really depends on how the corporation is organized and what kinds of projects they do. Some companies are set up in a way where each individual is expected to go out on their own and come up with a solution whereas others are organized around groups.”

“The bottom line is, good behavior is often rewarded in the long run. Most industries are pretty small and if someone ruins their own reputation by stealing ideas or not being a team player or what have you, it may come back to haunt them down the road when their up for another job with a different company,” said Carr.

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