THE TEAM'S THE THING

Survey: Executives Say Coworker Competitiveness Has Increased in Last Decade

MENLO PARK, CA -- While Olympic athletes go for the gold in Beijing, workers at home may be experiencing their own competition, suggests a recent survey. Almost half (46 percent) of senior executives interviewed said they believe employees are more competitive with each other today than they were 10 years ago.

The study was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. The survey is based on telephone interviews with 150 senior executives from the largest companies in the United States.

Executives were asked, “In your opinion, are employees more or less competitive with their coworkers than they were 10 years ago?” Their responses:

Significantly more competitive   12%
Somewhat more competitive   34%
No change   24%
Somewhat less competitive   23%
Significantly less competitive   3%
Don’t know       4%
    100%

“In an uncertain economy, people grow more concerned about job security and proving their worth to employers,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “This pressure to perform may result in rivalries between employees.”

Willmer added, “A bit of healthy competition among staff can increase motivation and productivity, but, just as in sports, the overall results of the team are what count. Too much intramural competition creates tension and stands in the way of collaboration.”

OfficeTeam has identified five common “workplace competitors,” along with strategies for discouraging them from taking competition too far:

  • The Sprinter – This employee races to the finish on projects, sometimes overlooking the details. Commend him on his long-term view and enthusiasm, but encourage him to avoid cutting corners in the process.
  • The Weightlifter – This employee views her achievements in terms of quantity rather than quality, often taking on more projects than she can reasonably accomplish satisfactorily and on time. Offer to redistribute some of her work among others and encourage her to focus on doing a first-rate job rather than attempting to do too much at once.
  • The Gymnast – This person aims for perfection and tends to want to complete projects on her own. While her bends and flips may be impressive, you may have to diplomatically counsel her to channel her talents more toward team goals rather than spending her time on solo routines.
  • The Pole Vaulter – No challenge is too great for this employee, who lobbies to take on the highest-profile projects. While this can-do spirit is helpful, it’s important to not let this worker monopolize all of the most challenging assignments.
  • The Saboteur – This athlete is present in every sport. He’s the runner who trips others near the finish line, the soccer player who always gets the yellow card or the basketball player who is ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct. His struggle to get ahead at the expense of others ends up damaging his team’s chances. Explain to him the value of playing by the rules and focusing his energy on collaborating with colleagues rather than personal glory.

Survey Methodology
The national survey was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. The survey is based on telephone interviews with 150 randomly selected senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

About OfficeTeam
OfficeTeam provides businesses with the highly skilled administrative talent they need to maximize productivity, achieve cost efficiency and support full-time staff. The staffing firm has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.  


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