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Dustin King
Dustin King

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Competition with Coworkers

Last night's #DevDiscuss Twitter discussion on healthy company culture reminded me of one thing that has been unhealthy at some places I've worked: the feeling that you're competing with your coworkers.

Some things that have added to this feeling in the past:

  • Numerical levels added to job titles (e.g. Senior Software Engineer, Level III).
  • Being a lead developer and individual contributor on the same project
  • Being judged on number of tickets closed (as opposed to depth, difficulty, or importance of the tickets).
  • Having to interview people for positions higher than one's numerical level
  • Having people you see as more junior promoted to the same level

On the one hand, it's important to recognize experience and accomplishment. On the other, it's probably hard to do in a way that everybody will feel is fair.

How often do you feel you're competing with your coworkers? What contributes to this feeling? What can you do, or what can an employer do, to make things more cooperative and supportive?

Top comments (2)

jhotterbeekx profile image
John Hotterbeekx

A little competition could be healthy, although it should not be by job title or anything. This should all come natural and find it's natural way inside your team or department. And this should never be the cause of stress, if it is, it has gone to far.

Recognition should not be given in job title either. You have your salary, that is the basic recognition, next to this giving compliments are the best way show recognition in my opinion.

Looking at my job I feel a little competition, but just a little, enough to push me to be at my best. An employer should be very careful with rewarding through competition, this can spiral into a negative culture very fast.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Yeah, this is definitely a thing that's hard to completely avoid in this industry.

Being pushed in healthy ways is one thing, but unhealthy competition is a burnout trap, or worse.

I have to think this would be manifested in the worst ways in environments that thoughtlessly think this kind of competition is unilaterally good. This is where metrics start getting gamed at the expense of fundamental progress for the team.