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Competing For A Promotion

When Fighting Fair May Not Cut It

Competing For A Promotion


By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
All’s fair in love and war, or so the expression goes. But are all tactics fair in vying for promotions at work?
No, they aren’t. Playing dirty at work is one of the ways your colleagues may try to outmaneouvre you. Sabotage. False rumours. You’re thinking, “Hey, that’s unethical.” It sure is. Except sometimes rivalry can get downright nasty.
Which can leave you with a dilemma. Let’s assume that this promotion is important to you. What do you do if one (or more) of your competing co-workers resorts to being being sneaky or backstabbing?
When Being Nice Just Won’t Cut It
In a perfect world, hard work and honesty would always get rewarded. But if you’ve been working for more than a few years you probably noticed this isn’t always true.
Co-workers may get promoted ahead of you even though you’re more deserving. All those extra hours you put in, or the superior quality of your work, may not be enough. Talk about frustrating!
There are certain work environments where those who don’t play nice can tend to get moved ahead before you. Do any of these apply?
·      Your boss isn’t exactly honest, and tolerates behaviours that lack integrity
·      The place where you work has a reputation for ruthlessness or for being “shady”
·      The colleagues you’re competing against have a special relationship with the boss (e.g. they’re best friends outside of work, they’re related, they’re romantically involved)
·      Revenues are falling or layoffs abound, and your employer pushes for results no matter what
In these kinds of circumstances, you can find yourself up against  vicious competition. More so if winning at all costs is the operating culture.
Fighting Fire With Fire
Severe rivalry, along with unethical attempts to gain the boss’s favour, make for tough going. It hurts to see someone else get ahead if they cheat or take shortcuts.
If you’re someone who isn’t bothered by cutthroat tactics, you’re free to match your sneaky co-workers trick for trick. 

There are risks involved, of course. If you get caught breaking the rules, there’s a chance you could get penalized or fired. Not to mention if you break the law. That a whole other level of problems for you.
Fighting Fire Cleanly
You could also go the opposite route. Instead of trying to crawl in the mud, you be the one to clean up your act. Market yourself as the more ethical candidate for that promotion.
An approach of this type works best when your boss is looking for someone trustworthy and principled. You play up your honesty. And boast about your track record of reliable, loyal performance.
No need to be the office sweetheart. Fact is you may still have to do some strategic fawning over your boss – complimenting them more than usual, offering to take them to dinner, inviting them over for a home-cooked meal – if only to compete with your unscrupulous colleagues. Except by not breaking the rules you reinforce that you’ve got the right stuff.
What’s The Promotion Worth To You?
Before you plot your strategy to compete for that promotion, take a look in the mirror. Think about the kind of person you are at heart.
If management values staff who lie, cheat or bribe, what chance do you stand of staying in your boss’s good graces if you do get promoted? You’ll end up having to forever pander to them, or let them get away with toxic behaviours.
Should your boss be more ethical, then you have a decent chance of getting picked for your integrity and performance. In that case, get noticed the right way at promotion time. Show that you’re willing to invest in your own development. Volunteer for extra assignments. Get on committees. Make sure your work is outstanding, and let the higher ups (not just your boss) know about it.
When promotions are based on merit, then out-merit your competing colleagues. Otherwise consider switching elsewhere in the company, or to a new employer altogether. Selling your soul for a promotion may simply not be worth it.

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