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How to manage competitive co-workers

15 July, 2015

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Date of Publication: 15 July, 2015
Competing and collaborating: in a team, finding the perfect balance is always a headache, but the only way to get the best results is when co-workers spur each other on towards a common goal. While much depends on the team’s individual personalities, we’ll see how managers can deal with various types of “competitive” employee or co-worker.

The Celebrities > This office character always needs to stand out from the pack and shine like a star – all day, every day.
They like to show off and to cherry pick the most prestigious assignments.

Enterprising and self-assured, they just love to be praised and feted.

How to handle – Never criticize them directly or try to compete with them, but use their strengths to inspire them and the other team members.
If you want them to work better with the group, try to agree some “cooperative” objectives.

The All-rounders > This character is the workaholic who always goes way beyond their job description. Unlike the Celebrity, they are less attracted to prestige projects but more to the sheer volume of work that they take on to feel indispensable.

How to handle – Ensure they meet project deadlines without getting overtired. Make them take occasional breaks, partly to let others contribute. Off the record, though, if properly managed, an All-rounder can be very handy to have around.

The Sprinter > Speed is all for these guys. They thrive on emergencies, and everything must have been “ready yesterday.” When a customer has a last-minute request, the answer is always “yes”.

How to handle – Speed is often the enemy of accuracy, so keep an eye on them and try to make them take a little extra time.
There’s not much else you can do; the important thing is to stay calm and avoid getting caught up in their maelstrom yourself!

The Saboteurs > This one tends to take all the credit while cleverly hiding any underperformance. Sly and negative, they are socompetitive that they could even damage the organization while desperately struggling to come out on top.

How to handle – If you are co-workers, your only weapon is to defend yourself and tell the boss about their every move. If you are the boss, you know it will be tough to change their attitude; the best solution is probably to move them out.

Look around your office and see what character types your co-workers are. Getting your team to cooperate while competing is one of a manager’s great challenges!

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