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10 Signs Your Workplace Is Overly Competitive

How competitive is your workplace? If you feel like you're constantly competing over minor things at work, then it's not just your imagination: The workplace is getting more competitive!

Nearly one-third of 306 managers in a new OfficeTeam report said employees are more competitive with each other than they were ten years ago. Even more, 66% of 355 employees surveyed label their workplace as either "very competitive" or "somewhat competitive." Only 10% said their workplace is "not at all competitive." Those lucky employees don't have to worry about who is wearing the most flair today.


Do we blame increasing employee competition on the app economy, on the Great Recession, or on the Everyone Gets A Trophy generation? There's probably equal blame to go around, but how can you know when your workplace is taking the competition too far? Here are ten signs your workplace is getting overly competitive:

1. There's a chart for everything. And I mean everything. From your latest sales numbers to being 30 seconds late to work to your latest Fitbit stats, everything you do is put into chart form and posted in a hallway, or online, for all to see. The only thing it's motivating you to do, however, is to send out your resume. You wonder if management is getting ready to chart employees' bowel movements soon.

2. Your co-workers always time you. You were 2 minutes late submitting a report today. You know this because a co-worker made sure you knew. Too bad you can't be more like your co-worker who turned in her report 2 minutes early, huh? It's a goal. On that note...

3. The goalposts keep moving. Congratulations, you've just hit your monthly targets! So we'll increase next month's quota by 125% since you're doing so well. You feel like you can never succeed in this job. Even more, you feel like you shouldn't do too well because they'll only increase your quota again.

4. Assignments are based on "fit." In this meritocracy, your manager decides who is "a good fit" for every project, no matter how small. The problem is, assignments do not seem to be based on actual skill. It's time to do something nice for your manager again, "just because." Make sure it tops your co-worker's latest offering.

5. Nobody sits around anymore. Standing desks, people. Or treadmill desks. The point is: How long have you stood up today? Not as long as your co-workers! Why is there always a shortage of chairs since the office turned to hot desking? Now you don't have a desk drawer for storing your supply of Tums.

6. Everyone at work is an unrelenting one-upper. No matter what it is, your co-workers have done it bigger, better, more, faster! Even casual conversations can leave you feeling exhausted, and more than a little bit defeated. No wonder you desperately need a vacation. By the way...

7. Nobody goes on vacation anymore. When was the last time you took a vacation? You can't remember, but your main competitor at work took some time off a few weeks ago, so you win!

8. Everyone jumps on each other's mistakes. Mistakes happen. We all make them occasionally. But your co-workers will pounce on the smallest error and they won't let it go for weeks. There's a lot of blame to go around, too. No wonder nobody at work wants to take a risk.

9. Nobody helps each other out anymore. You want some information about a project? Ha-ha, nice try! You'll get zip nada, because your co-worker's lips are staying zipped. If they help you, then you might win a prize. Teamwork? Well, that's not really happening in this office. Just go ahead and push the deadline forward already.

10. Even your personal choices are scrutinized. From your diet to your exercise habits to your choice of car to your love life, employees run the numbers and you're not doing it right. No, you don't want to run a triathlon, go Paleo or buy a fancy sports car. You're doing just fine, thanks. Nothing personal. No actually, it is personal.

How does your workplace rate? Keep in mind that 43% of employees surveyed would leave a workplace that got too competitive. So managers must find a good balance between competition and cooperation. I'll let you decide who would be a good fit for the project.

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