Grow the pie

Many people believe that our careers are zero sum games, where in order to win someone else must lose. That creates hurtful competition among colleagues and coworkers; people who should be working together and helping each other. People adopt a scarcity mindset where in order to get something you want, someone else cannot get the same thing.

But there are other ways for multiple people to reach their goals simultaneously. Economists have a term called grow the pie (highly technical, I know…). If there is a pie and four people, and one person takes half the pie, that only leaves half of the pie for the three remaining people. But what about if the pie grew to be larger. Or there was a second pie. Now everyone can get more pie, perhaps even more than all four people could eat together and everyone is satisfied.

In economics, a Pareto Improvement is when an individual becomes better off without making anyone else worse.

Careers can be similar. You might think that there is only a certain amount of money to give out in raises and bonuses, but what if the company produced even more profits this year. Then there is more money for the pool of funds going towards employee compensation.

Or there might only be one Director position open for people to get promoted to. But what if the company grows. Then there are multiple direction position that need to get filled, likely with internal candidates since the company is doing so well.

Rather than thinking of careers with a scarcity mindset, it’s best to remember that win-win situations are possible. If you work with your coworkers, you can grow the pie. And all of you can reach your career goals.

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