Doing business can be tough, with most players racing their way to the top. Many friends in the corporate world find themselves trying to outdo each other for the next promotion, raise, or even the simplest recognition from a supervisor. Competition in that world can be tough, and the larger businesses with a more cut-throat approach tend to favor assertive – or even aggressive – employees. Somehow, I haven’t seen the same approach when it comes to web working.
Although I think I’m ambitious, the idea of backbiting or stepping on the toes of other WWD bloggers makes me laugh – it just seems so far-fetched and ridiculous. This could mean that I’m not aggressively competitive, but how does that explain my drive to succeed and do better?
Is it possible that web workers aren’t competitive by nature? Or is there something wrong with the way we conventionally define competition?
Reality TV Examples
I’ve watched both “The Apprentice” and Joel Comm’s “The Next Internet Millionaire”, which are both reality shows about business – except the former is for the cut-throat world of real estate, and the latter was about creating your own online venture. I easily noticed how different those two shows were, especially in terms of the dynamic between the contestants:
- In “The Next Internet Millionaire”, contestants were often laid back and casual, and despite inevitable personal dramas, no one was yelling or being unnecessarily mean to each other. As for “The Apprentice”, most contestants would get aggressive or even manipulative.
- Whenever something went wrong during a challenge, “The Apprentice” contestants almost always pointed their fingers at other teammates, while “The Next Internet Millionaire” contestants took on at least part of the blame themselves.
- “The Next Internet Millionaire” contestants would sacrifice immunity or bonuses for teammates in need.
Did it make a difference that the contestants for “The Next Internet Millionaire” were almost entirely work-from-home folks?
Competition among web workers
On the web, competition is most visible when several contractors are bidding for a project. However, in most of those cases, you rarely see who you’re competing against. It’s about bringing your A-game forward and hoping that the client goes for it. If you can’t see your opponent, how can you compete against them directly? We can’t expect that the traditional office competition style will translate exactly into the web working world.
In some of the organizations I work for, competition is part of the work. Top performers are given commendations in front of their peers, almost like an online version of “Employee of the Month”. But praises are also given to those who have exceeded their personal best. I’ve even received surprise “pay bonuses” from clients who especially liked my work. If this happens, we can’t exactly say that recognition for our work is absent. It’s out there, and we need to hear it.
Even then, our definition of recognition and success is as varied as how many web workers there are on the planet. Fellow WWD blogger Pamela Poole has mentioned how volunteer work in her field gives her the morale boost she needs. Personally, I turn to the kind comments and thank you notes I receive from complete strangers who found something worthwhile in an article I wrote. And, talking to other web workers, I get the feeling that most of us always strive to do better than our last projects.
Although we don’t wear power suits everyday and engage in alpha-dog stare downs in the office, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we aren’t competitive. In fact, we face the toughest competition of all – ourselves.
How competitive are you as a web worker? How does competition impact your performance?