- New research from LinkedIn suggests there are various types of work colleagues that can help you get on in your career.
- These include a mentor or ‘cheerleader,’ a bestie, a work husband/wife, but also a rival.
- Some people naturally thrive off workplace rivalry while others shy away from it.
- There are ways to use your work rivalry to achieve your career goals.
As human beings, it’s natural to sometimes compare ourselves to one another. And it is often said that a healthy dose of competition can be good for you, particularly in the workplace, hence why many employers introduce bonus schemes and targets, to encourage their employees to compete.
But while some people thrive off rivalry, for others the added stress of feeling in direct competition with a colleague — or colleagues — on top of the usual pressures of the working environment can feel overwhelming.
It can even make some people shy away from the race for that promotion or pay rise. Some just prefer to compete with themselves than others.
LinkedIn conducted a survey of 2,000 working men and women in Britain and found that there were a number of different types of colleagues that respondents credited to having a positive impact on their careers. These included a mentor or “cheerleader,” a bestie, a work husband or wife, but also a rival.
Of the survey, just under a third of respondents claimed to have a “workplace rival,” with some employees claiming it had a positive impact on their performance, by either motivating them to succeed or work harder.
The study also showed that Gen Z and millennials were overall much more open to having — or admitting to having — a work rival, than their older peers.
Some of the Brits surveyed even claimed they’d prefer a rival than a “cheerleader” – that person who is constantly complimentary about their work.
There has to be a scale of what’s a healthy rivalry and what’s not, especially in a working environment. It obviously needs to be amicable and professional, but Alice Stapleton, a career coach who specialises in helping people in their 20s and 30s to change career paths says there are ways of using this rivalry to your advantage.
Stapleton says that having a healthy sense of rivalry can encourage you to work beyond your comfort zone and seek out new opportunities. She recommends that you spend some time sussing out who represents your competition among your team and wider network:
“You should see [your rival] not as someone to out-do or put down in the workplace but as someone to have a mutual respect for and be as supportive and friendly to as you can,” she told Business Insider. “Get to know that person but form your own career goals rather than simply responding to theirs, be proactive rather than reactive to someone else’s behaviour.”
If it’s a promotion you’re competing for, Stapleton recommends finding ways to highlight your readiness for it over your rival. Once you know what is required of the position, make sure you have clear examples of where you have excelled in that area and you’re rival hasn’t or their outcomes weren’t as successful.
She also recommends asking your rival for feedback on what they see as your strengths, and where you need to develop. “We often have blind spots when it comes to self-perception, so use this connection to fill in the gaps, and adapt accordingly,” she said.
And just because you’ve identified someone as a “rival” it doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends with them.
“It’s quite common in a close-knit team that you can be friends, that’s absolutely fine. You should be good natured and happy for them if they get a promotion or move on. If anything, take that as motivation for your own career and goals.”
But added: “I think sometimes it can be difficult when you are really good friends, the time may come when you have to step on their toes, or you’re given an opportunity directly over them that may challenge a [close] friendship.”