If you are in the work place, at times you may feel like you are in competition with those you work with. One of my favorite t.v. shows “The Office”, demonstrated just how far things can go in the workplace. Paper salesmen pushed their rivals into fish ponds, pummeled them with snowballs, and wrapped their desk up in wrapping paper.
If you’ve seen the show, you’ve probably seen quite a few similarities between what goes on in real life and what was portrayed on the show. While the competition may not be as crazy where you work, it’s natural to feel disappointed or resentful if you think you’re being passed over for a position.
Be careful how you react in those situations. Before you mistreat an innocent stapler, consider these alternatives for what to do when a coworker advances faster than you.
Steps You Can Take Yourself
1. Pause and reflect. If you feel hurt or angry about losing out on a coveted project or big salary increase, stop and reflect on the situation. You may think you know all of the details surrounding the situation, but there is a pretty big chance you don’t. As humans, we tend to assume a lot of things, see things that often aren’t there and gravitate toward the negative (they don’t like me, I’m not good enough, etc.) Give yourself time to process your emotions and know that everything always happens for a reason. It’s hard to tell what may come up in the future but you could end up being protected from something you don’t want later.
2. Assess your situation. Be honest with yourself. It doesn’t do you any good to go down the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” route and replay the scenario in your mind. Take a look at the role you play in your current situation. When you see opportunities come up in the future, could you handle them differently? Could you speak up more (or perhaps less?). What is one lesson you can learn from this experience? It doesn’t always seem like it, but I can promise you there is at least 1 positive thing about the situation you’ve just experienced. All you have to do is look for it.
3. Clarify your goals. Did you even want the position that your co-worker got anyway? Have you been thinking about stepping out and trying something different? This situation could bring some new desires to light for you so it’s important to clarify your goals so you can go after what you want. This could be a blessing in disguise because success takes many forms. In order to get where you want to go, you must first define what you want. By doing that, you will know what to head towards in the future.
4. Gather resources. Once you know what you want (step 3) you can determine where you area headed & ensure you’re prepared. Maybe it’s time to find a mentor, sign up for an online Masters in Marketing or volunteer to help your team and showcase your talents. It might take you a little bit to figure out exactly what your next steps are, and that’s ok. Just pay attention to what you are drawn to and what sounds fun and exciting to you. If you follow that enthusiasm, your inner guidance system will never steer you wrong!Pay attention to what you are drawn to & what excites you.Click To Tweet
5. Vent carefully. And I mean very carefully. Talking the situation can make it seem like you feel better, but all you are really doing is continuing to recycle through your negative feelings about the situation. If you feel you must get it off your chest and talk to someone, be selective about your audience. Pour out your soul to family or friends outside of the workplace. Find someone in your network who can understand your professional dilemma, while being removed from office gossip but don’t drag this on.Give yourself 15-20 minutes to get it all out and then move on. After all, you are on to bigger and better things and you don’t get there by rehashing and staying in negative space!
6. Avoid social media. I can not stress this one enough!! If you are mad or upset, do not turn to social media to vent your frustration because this will only come back to haunt you later. By blasting co-workers & your workplace, you are portraying yourself in a way that is not respectful of yourself or others. You never know who could read the comments and how it can effect your future. Avoid it at all costs!
7. Move on. At some point you’ll want to decide whether you’re better off dealing with the situation in your workplace or finding a new position. You may not know that right away, and that’s ok. I discussed some ways to decide what to do next in steps 3 & 4. These steps may also include broadening your options by updating your resume and look for new opportunities.
8. Seek balance. If you’re having difficulty bouncing back from any perceived rejection, you may be placing too much emphasis on your job. Remember that your worth is not defined by your job title. You are worthy of great things in your life & designing a life you love. You may find you can look back on the situation later and find things turned out even better than you could have planned.
Steps to Take with Your Employer
1. Offer congratulations. Let your coworkers know you’re happy for their good fortune & hard work. Be as sincere and enthusiastic as you would want someone to be if it was you in the new position. Offer your assistance for helping them adjust to their new roles & transitioning any work to the person who will fill their role.
2. Talk with your boss. It’s helpful to find out where you stand. Tactfully ask your boss for a meeting to discuss your current progress, areas of improvement and how you can take on more responsibilities. Steer clear of questioning their decisions and listen with an open mind to their reasoning. These types of meetings offer great insight into helping you grow in your career. Be sure to take notes during this meeting so you can reflect back later and see if you can find ways to incorporate the feedback into your position.
3. Support your team. Moping around & feeling sorry for yourself will just make you look & feel worse. By doing this you may give your boss the impression that they were correct about any limitations they see in you & why you were passed over. You don’t have to go over the top, but find ways to support your team. Look for new opportunities and how you can step up and be a leader with your organization.
4. Learn from others. Welcome feedback from your boss and colleagues so you can keep growing on the job. Pay special attention to employees who are moving up the ladder. What are they doing? You may discover what qualities and accomplishments your boss really values so you can adjust your performance as needed.
5. Promote yourself. Self-promotion doesn’t come easy for most people. It’s easy to be overlooked if management is swamped with their own concerns and you are not tooting your own horn. Be sure to track your accomplishments through out the year so you are prepared to discuss these achievements during your annual review. I recommend using One Note or creating a document that you can constantly add to throughout the year. Setting a monthly reminder can ensure you don’t forget to update the document with all you’ve achieved. When it’s time for your annual review, it will be easier for you to call attention to how you add value to the company. Define your career path based on what you need to stay engaged and challenged.
While office competition can feel draining and unfair, you don’t have to let it get you down. In the long run, competing with yourself is more constructive than comparing yourself to others. Instead of fuming about a co-worker who advances faster than you, why not shift that energy towards your own growth? Focus on yourself and what you want rather than focusing on what other people are doing and what you don’t want. The simple shift will make all the difference in the world!
What is your advice for handling a situation where a co-worker advances faster than you?