What Will You Do When a Coworker Advances Faster Than You?

What Will You Do When a Coworker Advances Faster Than You?

The TV show “The Office” demonstrated how far workplace envy can go. Paper salesmen pushed their rivals into fish ponds, stuck them in supply closets, and covered desk accessories with Jello.

While the competition may be less extreme at your workplace, it’s natural to feel disappointed or resentful if you think you’re being passed over. Before you mistreat an innocent stapler, consider these alternatives for what to do when a coworker advances ahead of you.

Steps to Take Yourself

 Pause briefly. If you feel hurt or angry about losing out on a prize project or big salary increase, stop to think. Give yourself time to process your emotions.

  • Assess your situation. Be honest with yourself. Maybe office politics have placed you at a disadvantage, or perhaps you would benefit by aligning your expectations with your current qualifications.


  • Clarify your goals. This could be a blessing in disguise because success takes many forms. Figure out whether you’re aiming for the executive suite or whether you’d prefer to stay in a job you already enjoy, free from extra paperwork and supervisory responsibilities.


  • Gather resources. Wherever you’re headed, ensure you’re prepared. This could be a reminder to find a mentor or sign up for continuing education courses.


  • Vent carefully. Talking the situation over is wise, but be selective about your audience. Pour out your soul to family and friends outside of the workplace. Find someone in your network who can understand your professional dilemma while being removed from office gossip.


  • Avoid social media. It’s especially important to watch what you say online. Check that your comments are safe for work. Edit anything that could sound like complaining or second guessing management decisions.

  • Move on. At some point you’ll want to decide whether you’re better off dealing with the situation in your workplace or finding a new position. Broaden your options by updating your resume, and look for new opportunities.

  • Seek balance. If you’re having difficulty bouncing back from any perceived rejection, you may be placing too much emphasis on your job. Remember that your worth is not defined by your job title.

Steps to Take with Your Employer

  • Offer congratulations. Let your coworkers know you’re happy for their good fortune. Be sincere and enthusiastic. Offer your assistance for helping them adjust to their new roles.

    • Talk with your boss. It’s helpful to find out where you stand. Tactfully ask your boss for a meeting. Steer clear of questioning their decisions and listen with an open mind to their reasoning.
    • Support your team. Moping around will just make you feel worse. Besides, you may give your boss the impression that they were correct about any limitations they see in you.

    • Learn from others. Welcome feedback from your boss and colleagues so you can keep growing on the job. Pay special attention to employees who are moving up the ladder. You may discover what qualities and accomplishments your boss really values so you can adjust your performance as needed.

    • Promote yourself. It’s easy to be overlooked if management is swamped with their own concerns. Use your annual reviews and other occasions to call attention to how you add value to the company.

Define your career path based on what you need to stay engaged and challenged. In the long run, competing with yourself is more constructive than comparing yourself to others. Meanwhile, if you’re fuming about a coworker who lands a promotion you wanted, shift that energy into your own growth.