I have joined my team almost a year ago. About 6 months back a new team member has joined my team. The new team mate is at the same position/ designation as me.

The new team member is considerably more experienced than me being a senior while I'm a junior (5 years vs 4)

The new team mate clearly illustrates a better grasp of concepts and processes in the company and knows what questions to ask and what bolts to tighten.

In light of all this, I have lost my "thunder" at work. While I worked on this project since its inception, other team members like the new team member more than me and consider me as a secondary member.

I have taken this personally so far - but slowly realized that I can't be so rough on myself. The said team member IS more experienced than me and has the advantage of having been in the same company longer. The new team member might even otherwise be better than me, I have come to humbly accept that.

However, slowly I have started feeling a dip in my self confidence and whenever I am around the new team mate, I feel anxious, alert, conscious and stressed. Honestly I still feel competitive towards him to the level that I compare everything I do with his work. Am I picking the right battle?

Is it correct to feel competitive about someone who is clearly more experienced and longer in the company than myself?
Am I just being to tough on myself?

  • No need to be stressed. It's natural to be want to be better than someone who is clearly at a higher competency level than you are right now. That's how people improve with experience. Personally I've used this to drive myself to better my skills more than once. :-)
    – Thihara
    Sep 17 '14 at 6:17
  • @gnat Is this not something that will be useful to future users? I personally feel that similar issues will arise to most people at least once in their professional lives, and not every one has a thick skin :-)
    – Thihara
    Sep 18 '14 at 8:07
  • @Thihara did you check meta guidance referred in prior comment?
    – gnat
    Sep 18 '14 at 8:09
  • @gnat Yes I've. But I fail to see how this can be considered simply venting. Is this not asking the advice of people who've been in similar situations? Can't many questions in here categorized the same? Forgive my ignorance.
    – Thihara
    Sep 18 '14 at 10:30

As others have said, the issue here isn't whether your feeling is "correct" or not. The feeling is there, you can't logic it away. What you can do is decide how to deal with both the situation and the feeling about the situation in a constructive manner.

You've said that you are a very competitive person and that's what drives you. That's not wrong in and of itself. But there are a few things you need to consider here:

  1. Competitions usually means that someone wins, and someone else loses. If you are seeing this as a competition, that means you have to learn to accept the possibility that you will not always be the winner. You need to be able to deal gracefully with that.

  2. Not all competitions are short races. Some are marathons. The person who is consistently ahead of you early in the race may not be there at the end. And some competitions consists of several smaller races - even if someone wins the first five, they may lose the all-over competition to someone who was behind in the first races but pulled ahead in the later ones.

  3. Not all competitions are individual ones. Some are for teams to work together against other teams.

You now have a huge opportunity to use these facts in order to get better both at your job and at being a competitor.

I'll start with the third point, that of seeing this competition as one for the team instead of for the individual. I'd suggest that you start focusing on the team rather than just yourself. This new person, is he helping the entire team to get better? If so, your team has scored an advantage by getting him on board. Use it to your personal advantage too - learn from him the things he knows that you don't, offer to help with the things you know that he doesn't. If he's getting all the questions from your coworkers, he may be feeling stressed out or put-upon and wish for some time to be able to work in peace. You can offer to show and help others when he's busy - but remember to do it with a genuine offer of help, not as a ploy to get the credit.

If you can see him as your mentor/coach/team leader, rather than your direct competitor, you will move to a head space where his skills are your assets as well as his. They're something you aspire to rather than envy, if you see what I mean.

For the first and second points - when you feel that you've lost, don't stress over the loss. Instead, analyze what happened. What was it he did better than you? How did he do it? Could you do that? Could you think of some way to do something even better the next time a situation like this arises?

You should also be aware that there is a fourth factor here:

  1. The competition may not be about what you think it's about.

If you want to be the person that your coworkers turn to with questions, you should know that it's not only the knowledge in your head that matters. It's also the way that you behave towards them.

If I have a coworker who's very much into competition, who gets unhappy if they aren't considered as number one, I personally will be less likely to turn to that person for help. It makes me feel as if they're not interested in working together with me, that they are seeing me as a prop for their own internal ranking system rather than as a coworker that they should cooperate with in order to get the job done as efficiently as possible.

So, to be the go-to person, the one considered both knowledgeable and approachable, you need to not only know a lot, you need to also be helpful and kind in sharing your skills and knowledge. You need to help others, and be completely OK with the thought that this means some of them may surpass you later. In other words, don't let your competitiveness stand in the way of winning.

  • I cannot even begin to tell you how much your inputs have helped. Everybody here had very valuable inputs indeed but your input made me look at the problem in a way, in which i realized i am responsible for bloating it up more than what it actually is. It has helped me look at the situaion in a new light, i have become more focussed and sensible in choosing my battles logically and strategically. Thanks a ton!!!!
    – varini s
    Oct 2 '14 at 2:59
  • I'm very glad we were able to be of help!
    – Jenny D
    Oct 2 '14 at 7:08
  • @JennyD this was a very insightful answer; it smoothly transitions between logic and emotion which is something I struggle with, I honestly think you have a gift. It seems you can explain emotions to logically oriented people, which is pretty amazing :)
    – ldog
    Jan 24 '19 at 10:59
  • People also often only compete with someone who offers them a challenge. It could be taken as a compliment that they think high enough of you.
    – MarkJL
    Apr 29 '19 at 10:35

I'd like to offer a different perspective on this.

This is awesome for you. Yes, I know - you have lost your "thunder", but think about the opportunity you've gotten instead.

You've now got a senior who you claim is very competent and always knows where to look for the next thing to fix. This means that from a position of being a junior developer with minimal guidance you now have a senior developer who is very good you can learn from.

So in short:

  • Don't be hard on yourself because there is a more senior professional involved. You shouldn't think of this in terms of competing with them - but rather competing with yourself and becoming a more skilled professional.
  • Having a senior, especially one that's good means you're given access to a knowledge source, use that. Do ask them for advice. Learning from someone else, at least for me, is usually much faster than learning from scratch from an online resource. Having that someone can really benefit you.
  • Having friendly competition in good sportsmanship is good, but he is not your enemy. You are both part of a team and are collaborating on the same project. No matter what - do not create conflicts you don't have to in the workplace. That promotes a hostile work environment. Even if you don't benefit from his advice - which I think you should, you should do your best to get along anyway.
  • thanks for ur answer and the EDIT. u have added things in the edit that r not true. information that wasnt there earlier. Like i am a developer and the experience difference is 5 vs 2?? where did this come from? when i read my post it didnt look like i was reading my own post!!
    – varini s
    Sep 19 '14 at 0:22
  • @varinis I have done the best to preserve the original information in the post - I have only edit what I understood from the question. Your original revision said "5 years vs 2" so I assumed that you have 2 years of experience vs 5. Please revert any edits you don't like I was trying to help :) Sep 19 '14 at 8:18
  • Hi Benjamin! i know it was done with the best of intentions. Just that some of the replies to my question were replies to the edited question by you, that had some mistakes that would not get me sound response. No issues. i know it was a mistake. Happens. Just be careful next time.
    – varini s
    Oct 2 '14 at 2:57

Yes it is correct to feel competitive, however it isn't a bad thing. The simple fact is that there is always going to be someone out there who is better than you in some respect, and there is always room for you to develop.

As Thihara has commented, this can be a positive thing. If you've previously been seen as the 'expert' and your position or standing has now been usurped by the newcomer then it's perhaps an indicator that you've lapsed somewhat in your personal and professional development.

Use what you're feeling as the impetus to improve. You haven't mentioned how your relationship with this individual is, but if it's cordial or better, why not see if they'd be willing to act as a workplace mentor? Otherwise educate yourself through reading, courses etc. to improve those area's you've identified as lacking compared to your colleague.

Similarly, using his output; whether that be presentations/documentation/code etc as a quality benchmark for yourself isn't a bad thing. Particularly if you've not set yourself quality standards so to speak previously.

Your question doesn't indicate what I'd consider to be a legitimate reason to be stressed i.e. you've not mentioned that anyone else is judging you poorly or that you're under pressure from those above. In which case the stress is likely of your own doing, whilst it's easy to say and harder to do, you need to nip this mentality in the bud. It'll likely only negatively effect your work and performance and possibly invite criticism that isn't currently there.

In short, competitiveness can be and generally is a good thing and drives people to improve. However, unless there's a valid reason that you've not mentioned in your question then there's no need to let it effect you negatively.

  • No pressure from above. But i feel others are judging me poorly. i feel no matter what i do, its just not good enough
    – varini s
    Sep 17 '14 at 16:48
  • 1
    @varinis If you don't find these answers and comments acceptable and helps you look at the situation in a positive light, it may be time to get some professional guidance from a trusted mentor, or a professional counselor.
    – Thihara
    Sep 18 '14 at 10:33

Is it correct to feel competitive about someone who is clearly more experienced and more older in the company than yourself?

"Is it correct" is not the question you should ask yourself. What matters is whether you feel good about being competitive to your colleages or not. Some people like or even need it, others don't. Only you can answer this question for yourself. You have to think about what your goals are, and what working environment you need to be able to do a good job and enjoy work.

Obviously you don't know yet what is best for you. But relax, this is something you will learn over time. You cannot force it, but you should think about this from time to time.

A second aspect is the company culture. Some companies encourage or even demand competitiveness between their employees. Others don't.

After you have found out about your preferred working environment (including the company culture you prefer), you have to see if and how it fits to the culture of your current company. If it fits, great. If not, you maybe want to look for another company.

Edit regarding your comment and to make it clearer:

I have always been competitive. Thats what drives me. But this is the first time that this is stressing me out. I dont feel good about it.

You are competitive, but you don't feel good about competing with your new team mate. Your new team mate is more experienced and probably better than you. Consequently, it is probably a good idea to not see your new team mate as a competitor. See him more as a role model. Maybe you can learn something from him. If possible, pick other team mates to compete with.

Everybody has to accept the fact that there always will be people who are better than themselves in some aspects. Don't let this drag you down.

  • I have always been competitive. Thats what drives me. But this is the first time that this is stressing me out. I dont feel good about it. And i am not able to enjoy my work as i constantly feel my value as a team member is being undermined. No body has said that to me explicitly, but i can see it in the way my team mates approach me v/s new team mate. and i have started feeling that my performance is not good in comparison and am constantly anxious of the fact that someday soon, my senior will tell me the same. it hasnt happened so far, and mostly i feel its all in my mind.
    – varini s
    Sep 17 '14 at 16:46

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