5 Smart Ways to Outmaneuver Your Colleagues
By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer

If you work in a cutthroat environment, it’s good to know how to watch your own back -- and get ahead when you can. Here are five ways to outmaneuver your colleagues in a competitive workplace.

Lend a Hand

It sounds counterintuitive, says leadership coach Ray White, but helping your co-workers and giving them credit is a great way to outmaneuver them. “Supervisors and peers want to work with people who get things done, who don’t steal credit, who are willing to lend a helping hand, and who are overall leaders.”
“By helping out your colleagues, you become the person everyone wants to work with. It opens up opportunities for promotions and special projects,” he explains.  Also those you help will feel obligated to help you when the time comes. “If you help a colleague succeed and they get promoted, they are going to want you on their team which means potential promotion for you as well.”

Take the Lead
 
One of the best ways to outmaneuver your co-workers is to achieve a leadership position on a project -- especially if it advances your boss’ agenda, says executive coach Dennis O’Neill. “Pick up on an open issue and organize the group inclusively. Take every opportunity to be effusive with praise for the contributions of all other constituents.”
O’Neill advises taking everyone’s contributions and making it into an idea everyone owns. “Allow them to trust that you will not do anything that will either embarrass or put them at risk,” he says. “Schedule one-to-one meetings with the boss as the project advances, and report out at staff meetings; thoughtfully dispense contribution-attached praise publicly.”

Use Your Time Wisely

You don’t have to work 14-hour shifts to get ahead, but it does help to watch for opportunities  to do more during down time. “Embrace the off-season,” says Todd Brockdorf. “Use slower times in your business to your advantage. To outmaneuver colleagues, use the downtime to complete training, do strategic planning, update outdated materials, or whatever seems to get pushed to the lowest point on the stack. Demonstrating productivity is one surefire way to stand out from the crowd.”

Do the Right Thing

“I have no intention of outmaneuvering my colleagues because as colleagues we should be working together and supporting each other,” says success coach Joanne M. Deck. “However, doing the right thing when your colleagues don't can give you a definite advantage over them.”
This can be as simple as getting your job done. “I remember taking five minutes to prepare for a staff meeting agenda item when none of my peers had,” she says. “The chair of the meeting was delighted with me, and my peers were peeved because I'd made them look bad. Never mind intentional outmaneuvering. Just act with honesty and integrity and those who aren't on board will trip themselves up.”

Talk to Them

Taking the initiative to acknowledge there’s a conflict when one exists can put you in a position of power. “‘Outmaneuver’ implies winning or beating your colleagues -- a focus on my success over your success, which in my experience usually means that no one wins, or wins well,” says Morag Barrett, CEO of SKYE Team.
“The most impactful way I have found to outmaneuver colleagues is to sit down up front and have a conversation that sets out the rules of engagement and how you will work together,” he says. “It is a proactive approach, rather than the reactive approach, one that means you can maneuver and move forward together to achieve success -- no outmaneuvering needed!”

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