Jeal­ousy in the Work­place: When Com­pe­ti­tion be­comes Neg­a­tive

The Washington Post Sunday - - JOBS -

A de­gree of com­pe­ti­tion in the work­place keeps em­ploy­ees at the top of their game. But when the bat­tle for a pro­mo­tion, and the ex­tra green that comes with it, leads to eyes green with envy, the re­sult can be dis­rup­tive.

Envy harms the one who feels it. It also dis­rupts teams and weak­ens or­ga­ni­za­tional per­for­mance. Pro­duc­tiv­ity, morale and col­lab­o­ra­tion can be ca­su­al­ties if re­sent­ments are al­lowed to sim­mer.

Work­ers and man­agers can play a cru­cial role in tamp­ing down the emo­tions that turn col­leagues into bit­ter ri­vals.

Re­search con­ducted by Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view found one way to squelch envy is by re­mind­ing your­self of your own strengths and ac­com­plish­ments.

Dur­ing one ex­er­cise, man­agers were asked to eval­u­ate a ri­val’s lat­est idea and how much time at work they would de­vote to learn­ing more about the con­cept. Be­fore the ex­er­cise, half of the man­agers noted their own ac­com­plish­ments or cher­ished values. Man­agers who af­firmed them­selves were will­ing to spent 60 per­cent more time at work learn­ing about their ri­val’s ideas com­pared to the man­agers who did not af­firm them­selves. The fol­low­ing tips can also help em­ploy­ees keep jeal­ousy at bay. 1. Make jeal­ousy work for you. Envy is nat­u­ral. But in­stead of chan­nel­ing the emo­tion in a neg­a­tive di­rec­tion, use it as mo­ti­va­tional fuel. If your co­worker gets the pro­mo­tion you seek, don’t throw a pity party. Con­sider this a time for self-eval­u­a­tion and ask your­self: How can I step up my game?

2. Keep suc­cess­ful col­leagues close. Study their work habits, their work­place man­ner, how they dress and carry them­selves, and how they in­ter­act with their su­pe­ri­ors. Ask them for ad­vice. What works for them may work for you.

3. Be hum­ble in vic­tory, gra­cious in de­feat. A sore win­ner is no more ap­peal­ing than a sore loser. Be a will­ing men­tor or pro­tégé, and al­ways strive to be a con­ge­nial col­league. A work­place riven with ego­tism, re­sent­ments and per­son­al­ity clashes is doomed to un­der­per­form. Help set the tone.

4. There is no “green” in team. And there are no “stars” in a los­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion. Think of your co­work­ers as team­mates and rally them to be part of a sup­port­ive, nur­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ment that cre­ates a room­ful of stars. The work­place that works well to­gether, wins to­gether.

5. Don’t be a toady. Ev­ery work­place has its share of peo­ple who think the way to the top is by in­gra­ti­at­ing one­self to the boss. If you make it on the mer­its, you’re likely to at­tract re­spect in­stead of re­sent­ment.

6. Be your best self. Act­ing on your in­se­cu­rity and jeal­ousy in the work­place is not a good look. Dis­plays of im­ma­tu­rity are not a ticket to fu­ture ad­vance­ment. Learn to em­ploy a “game face” re­gard­less of any set­backs or in­ner tur­moil. Keep your emo­tions in check.

7. Be pas­sion-ap­pro­pri­ate. It’s OK, even wel­come, to be pas­sion­ate about your work. But dis­plays of ar­dor un­re­lated to the job can sink your ca­reer, es­pe­cially if they cross the line into ha­rass­ment. Be dis­creet about of­fice ro­mances.

Man­agers can help cre­ate a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for them­selves and their em­ploy­ees by fol­low­ing these prac­ti­cal tips.

1. Don’t suc­cumb to flat­tery. Syco­phancy may be mu­sic to your ears, but it cre­ates dis­cor­dance within the work­place. The worker whose pri­mary skill is cur­ry­ing fa­vor is likely mask­ing his or her de­fi­cien­cies as a pro­duc­tive em­ployee. To the ex­tent you em­brace and pro­mote lack­eys, you risk los­ing the re­spect of your work­force.

2. Don’t play fa­vorites. Re­mem­ber, you’re the boss of ev­ery­one, not just a few cho­sen cronies. Em­ploy­ees no­tice when you walk by their desk with­out ac­knowl­edg­ing them on your way to chat up their col­leagues. They no­tice even more when those same col­leagues leapfrog them on the way to raises or pro­mo­tions. The seeds of jeal­ousy are of­ten planted by those at the top. Cul­ti­vate an en­vi­ron­ment of fair­ness.

3. Man­age com­pe­ti­tion fairly. To the great­est ex­tent pos­si­ble, post ev­ery job op­por­tu­nity and pro­vide a level play­ing field for your em­ploy­ees to com­pete. You may have some­one in mind for a pro­mo­tion, but stay open through­out the process—you might find your­self sur­prised by the out­come.

4. Value char­ac­ter. Learn to spot the en­ti­tled, the dis­grun­tled and the back-biters. Head off prob­lems by avoid­ing nar­cis­sis­tic, in­se­cure or toxic per­son­al­i­ties in your hir­ing. Seek out team play­ers who pos­sess ma­tu­rity, con­fi­dence and the skills to back it up.

Man­ag­ing a work­place bal­ance be­tween com­pet­i­tive­ness and ruth­less­ness can be tricky. Cul­ti­vat­ing fair­ness, re­spect and self-dis­ci­pline are the key. Man­agers and em­ploy­ees each have a role in cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where ev­ery­one’s am­bi­tions can flour­ish with­out emo­tions erupt­ing into some­thing mean and green.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.