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The Green-Eyed Monster: Envy in the Corporate World

Have you ever read Shakespeare? He managed to cover pretty much every human feeling there is. Love, fear, ambition, prejudice, superstition, obsession, fantasy, lust, competition, and -of course- envy. Needless to say, almost every play ended up in total chaos because his characters took matters into their own hands and many of them had tragical endings because of it. But I think they are a good reminder that things taken to the extreme, especially hard-to-digest self awareness and “evil” thoughts can bring the absolute worst in any one of us. 

Should I share my success with my colleagues?

Yes, of course! I mean… if they are good people, they should be happy for you, right!? Hmmm… there’s no math in this equation. Unfortunately, some of your peers, managers, partners, or former bosses won’t necessarily be supportive when you get a promotion, or a bump in your paycheck, or tickets for a company training in another city. Truth is we are all making our way in the corporate world and there’s no equal path to a same finish line. So, if someone you thought would cheer for you once you got that recognition you had worked so hard for simply didn’t, try to understand that they may not have had foul intentions. Although… how many red flags are red enough for you to realize who you can actually trust?

Colleagues, not friends

When I first started in this industry, a common suggestion I got from peers at the office was: “get out of your cubicle!” Or “you need to talk to other people more”. I always responded in a very defensive tone that I was there to WORK, not to make friends. When I was ready and able to let down my guard, I realized I was spending too many hours at my job and not communicating to anybody else there other than my work related emails. And it was awful. It got boring and frustrating. I even started thinking I was only “good at work” and had no real connections with other people. I have a few friends from that time that are still in my life who I love for showing me I could trust them. And that I was in a safe environment. At least, most of the time. The so called “corporate world” can be devastatingly competitive and if you are not ready for it, you can get stepped all over. 

Healthy competition versus toxic one

Reality is most of us want to have solid careers. You know… as in being paid fairly, having the proper work-life balance, working in something you care about, and not having an upset stomach on Sunday night when you think about tomorrow morning. Competition is great. Working for productivity and not just pushing hours is essential. Self-worth and management recognition in the workplace matters more than we care to acknowledge. But if that turns into bad habits like gossiping about coworkers, lying to get ahead, cheating to have better results to show in comparison to the rest, then it is not healthy and makes teamwork literally impossible. And… you betcha! That team you are a part of or you lead will -no doubt whatsoever -fail. Nothing positive comes from endless meetings in which you need to share your results only to be compared to the rest of the group. Team up, not gang up against each other. Everyone shines at their own thing, at their own time. Be patient. 

A spotlight on leaders

Do you want to be a successful leader with the right team who listens to you and learns from you, takes your advice and puts it into action? Then mentor them. Coach them. Get to know who they are. What their lives look like. How they feel about working in a team under your command. Schedule weekly meetings with every single member of your squad. Set realistic goals. Ask them about their career objetives. Have a team chat for everyone to speak their mind during business hours. With you in it or not. That really doesn’t matter. What matters is they feel like they belong. They need to want to be there to help you help them. Practice active listening, not just nodding and repeating meaningless catchy phrases like “you are so spot on!” to just completely ignore what they told you 5 minutes ago. If you chose them to be in your team, or if the company did that for you before you even got there, there’s a reason. Find out which one it is. And move from there. Because if you want to make things work, you need to work with your people. Show them you really do care. That’s obviously assuming you -in fact- do.