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Friday, 30 August 2013

CD 273: Competitiveness at work

We are under pressure at work to achieve targets and our results are made public as a way of encouraging us. This can give rise to some bad feelings between us: can my faith be of any help in this?

Competition is not a bad thing in itself and can be a way of encouraging people to work hard, but the intense atmosphere of some workplaces with public comparisons has an obvious downside in tempting people to deceit, jealousy and disloyalty to colleagues. Certainly our Christian way of life can be of help. First of all, at a management level, whilst competition is a motivator, the cohesiveness of a team is also crucial to overall effectiveness and better results. Backbiting in the office is not going to have a positive effect on the balance sheet.

If you are not in a position to change the overall ethos at management level, you can still try to promote a better work atmosphere by living the virtues opposite to the vices which harm relationships in your own team. Integrity, honesty, trustworthiness and loyalty to colleagues –combined with hard work along with them – will mean that at least some balance is brought in. Crucial also both to the effectiveness of the competitive spirit in business terms, and to the fostering of good relationships, is the sincere and friendly recognition of the success of others.

The hard-driven nature of your work also presents particular challenges in your own spiritual life and your relationship with your family. If at all possible, try to keep work and home life separate: “switch off” before you get home. One way of doing this would be to schedule a time of reflection (with an examination of conscience) at the end of your working day. If you can visit a Church before catching the train home, that is ideal. If not, there may be a park or open space you can walk in for, say, a quarter of an hour whilst trying to pray reflectively. As a last resort, you could load some sacred music on your phone and listen to that prayerfully on the train.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
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