Competing with Workaholics

Mar 28th, 2010 | By | Category: abundance, Career advice, career challenges, challenges, mentor, office problems, personality, success

Every office has one. The person who comes in first and leaves last, accomplishes little or nothing, and professes to be the office go-to person. Their omnipresence makes them appear as superstars. How do you compete with work aholics?

The first task is to properly identify these tactics and learn the pattern. There are several different types of competitors who employ these tactics and it is important to know their modus operandi to effectively deal with them. In my experience there are four basic types of workaholics.

1) Those who are not very smart and make up for it with the appearance of dedication by putting in huge amounts of time, and acting like they are carrying the entire weight of the office.

2) Those who are competent, but insecure. They are afraid to leave the office for fear they will miss something, or someone will use their absence to get ahead of them.

3) Over achievers who have a need to appear to be the best and the brightest at all costs.

4) There is also a category of people who do not want to go home, and make the office their life.

Each of these types is dangerous in their own right, and it may be tricky to develop effective counter measures to deal with them effectively.

The biggest mistake is trying to put in the same amount or more hours than they do. In a way this is playing into their hands, by acknowledging they are getting to you. One trick I learned from a seasoned office gamesman is to give them small tasks to do in front of the boss and others. For example, you may say something like ”It’s quitting time and I am caught up so I am going home, but I am expecting an important fax, I know you stay late. Would you do me a favor and keep an eye out for my fax and put it on my desk?” This accomplishes two things. It frames the person is staying because they cannot get their work done on time, and it places them in a subservient “office go for” position.

Usually people who use the workaholic tactic like to insert into every conversation possible how much time they put in. Once in an elevator with two senior VPs I overheard them talking. One said to the other “I was here until 10:00 PM last night meeting with the CEO.” The other responded “I know I was called to his office after you left.” Like the second VP, be prepared with comebacks for those who like to brag about how much time they spend at the office. The comebacks should be subtle but pointed. For example, at a meeting a notorious office work-a-holic was going on and on about the hours she was putting in. After a while, a co-worker chimed in that with that amount of hours the project should be finished, and asked if she would brief us all on her accomplishments. My co-worker knew in advance there was nothing to present.

The best defense against office workaholic is to have your work up to date. While there are instances that may require extra hours on occasion, most of us are not over worked. By managing your time effectively you can stay current. Some people ask for additional work and responsibility to position themselves for advancement. These are usually overachieves, who by their nature they are fierce competitors. I do not recommend engaging in an endurance battle with any of the types who are “workaholics”. You will burn yourself out and have nothing to show for it. There are more effective ways to compete with workaholics.

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