By Barbara Perone
Okay, you’re all a-glow because you just got hired to work your dream job at the best company in the world. Your first day there you begin to meet the cast of characters you will henceforth refer to as your new co-workers.
As the days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, you quickly determine the kind of traits these good people possess that make them either annoying or difficult to work with. Bearing in mind that none of us is perfect, you try to get along with everyone you meet and adjust to your new environment.
To avoid actually becoming a difficult or annoying worker, take a look at the list of employee traits (below) that drive managers & supervisors crazy and make them secretly want to replace these workers with ones who won’t cause any problems.
This fellow always has a sharp instrument aimed at the back of anyone he is envious of or doesn’t particularly like and wants to cause trouble for. He has a phony smile and a devious mind. Employees catch on to this fellow pretty quickly and just don’t trust him; so, they don’t share information with him about anything, especially if it’s work-related. Every now and then, a company may use someone like Ben to do their dirty work for them, like gathering information about another employee they want to fire. But, eventually, when they no longer need his services, they are all too happy to get rid of him, too.
Clutter Bug Brian
This slob’s cubicle is so cluttered with empty soda bottles, candy wrappers, unwashed coffee mugs, books, papers, tangled electrical cords, and overflowing trash it looks like something out of the television show Hoarders. Apparently, “Pig Pen” has run out of room for all the junk he has already crammed into his home. So, the pack rat has no choice but to bring some of it to work. After all, he needs the extra space and thinks all the dust, dirt & garbage that surrounds his desk gives his cubicle that homey, lived-in look. Trouble is, his workplace neighbors wish they could move because they don’t like looking at his filthy mess, day-after-day.
Team Player – Party of One. Shallow Cal focuses on winning at all costs, even if it means hurting a fellow employee or sacrificing his team to do it.
No matter how a situation plays out, callous, calculating Cal just can’t seem to extricate himself from the proceedings unless he’s sure he’s won — and, more importantly, that someone else (usually a person he feels most threatened by) has lost.
Credit Stealing Sam
Sam loves your work so much he often steals it and plasters his own name all over it. Co-workers and bosses alike take a dim view of this kind of workplace thievery. Getting a reputation for this kind of behavior can cause a lack of trust with other employees and that’s never good. This joker has to learn how to do his own work because there is such a thing as Karma and one day he may get his. Of course, nobody would ever want to steal Sam’s work because he’s probably already stolen it from someone else!
&$#@!%&^!#! are the only words Clem seems to know. In the morning, when you first get to the office, you may see him, and think, “Only 8 o’clock in the morning and already that foul mouth is open for business!” Like an artist, Clem weaves a tapestry of profanity that can hang in the air for days – after all, cursing is his true medium.
Using salty language around your bosses, or co-workers, is unprofessional and gets old fast. It may even prevent you from getting that promotion. The guy who talks like this has to learn how to use other words to make his point; otherwise, he should learn to just “shut the!@#%$^&* up!”
Also known as Negative Nellie. This little lady thrives on the negative attention. She’s the kind that would be fuming for days at the rude guy who cut in front of her in line at the convenience store, even if his faux pas caused her to win a million dollar lottery!
No suggestion anyone ever makes is good enough. Debbie always rejects any new ideas. No joke anyone ever tells is even remotely funny. Everybody is against her. She pooh-poohs those in authority, hates her co-workers, and scowls at every social function, trying to find something, anything, to complain about. What a joy to be around! Companies are really turned off by this kind of person, no matter how good she may be at her job.
Eddie’s index finger seems to permanently affixed to the Send button! He constantly emails his co-workers all sorts of jokes, some vulgar, some lame, some stupid, some funny. If he’s a member of your project team he may drive you crazy sending as many as a dozen emails a day, instead of sending just one or two well-worded messages.
What Eddie doesn’t realize is that we’re all inundated daily with so much email we tend to get overloaded quickly and, these days viewing vulgar jokes at work can get people into real trouble. Eddie would be wise to pick up the phone and just call his co-workers when he has something important he wants to say – but he should keep his phone calls to a minimum, just a couple a day.
Five-Finger Discount Dan
Dan thinks his company is just one big mall where he can go shopping any time and not have to pay a dime for things. He goes through the office supply closet and takes pens, books, phones, computer devices anything that isn’t nailed down. He’s steals soda, coffee, filters, milk from the break room. He may even resort to stealing customers’ credit card numbers to buy stolen merchandise or sell the numbers to a third party.
And, if there’s any spare change lying around he’ll gladly take that, too. Sometimes he embezzles money – and may even go so far as to steal toilet paper from the company men’s room! Companies have cameras everywhere these days, and, once they catch on to their thieving ways they often fire guys like Dan.
Greta works hard. She’s sort of a slap-happy gal, but her incessant giggling and laughing like a hyena gets on everyone’s nerves. She tends to chortle, chuckle, and guffaw at everything anyone says, thinking it’s hilarious. This may not seem like a particularly bad trait, but, be aware that the United States has an employment-at-will policy. That means American companies do not necessarily need a reason to terminate you. These days, companies look for the slightest annoyance to go after someone; and, much like The Mob, they can usually have you eliminated with just one phone call.
Gluteus Maximus Kissing Keith
Also known as a Butt Kisser or a Brown Noser. This guy is a ‘Yes’ man. His answers are sugary sweet and his lips are permanently affixed to the boss’s posterior no matter what he is asked to do. Managers and supervisors respect a man, or woman, who speaks up when he or she thinks things are going off course in a project; as long as it is said directly, in a respectful manner. Most co-workers truly detest working with the kind of person who sucks up like a powerful vacuum cleaner just to get the boss’s attention.
Gloria loves to gossip and spread juicy stories & rumors about her fellow employees, whether they are true or not. Not the kind of person to tell secrets to or take into your confidence – unless you want your personal business spread all over the office in less than an hour.
This yakker is friendly enough and usually only wants to stop by your cubicle to say “Hi!” Problem is: her timing stinks. This gum-flapper seems to want to chit-chat when others are overloaded with work. Now, Heather’s not as bad as Motor Mouth Molly, who never stops yapping, even to take a breath, but, her behavior can be just as annoying and hard to handle, especially in a busy office.
Ida just can’t seem to make a decision – any decision. And, even after she’s made a decision she tends to: rethink it, mull it over, re-examine it, re-consider it, and then ask all four of her cats for advice. By the time she’s actually decided to do something everyone is so tired of waiting they can’t stand it anymore. Often, this is kind of worker is just afraid of being wrong and may try to blame her indecisiveness on her fellow employees, or worse yet, her boss.
Her male counterpart is I-Phone Izzy. This gal loves her cell phone so much she probably sleeps with it tucked it under her pillow at night! During the day, she can’t seem to keep her hands off her cordless device, with all its amazing apps. It doesn’t matter who she is talking to at the moment, she is only concerned with who else she could be talking to. Unfortunately, Ida is just part of our it’s-all-about-me society. Okay, Ida and Izzy just put the phone down and nobody gets hurt!
This lady usually hooks up with the workplace Casanova, known as Romeo Ralph. Typically, these two are already married, just not to one another. All they seem to be concerned about is being together; this little thing called work just cuts into their leisure time. They either try to sneak around, under the radar, or hide in plain sight. It doesn’t matter, though; everyone at the office already knows they’re a couple. They’re just too polite to tell them what they really think – that they’re a couple of stinkers. Companies tend to frown upon office romances, especially since they can lead to sexual harassment charges when the fireworks fizzle.
His female counterpart is Laptop Lillie. This guy’s laptop might as well be sewn to his large intestines. Louie tends to ignore those living, breathing human beings standing right in front of him, preferring instead the warm glow coming off the screen of his electronic friend. Claims he’s a multi-tasker, in reality he’s just plain rude to his fellow co-workers and managers who are trying to get his attention about this little thing they call work! Close relative of I-Phone Ida & I-Phone Izzy.
Chances are if you are a compulsive liar you may not recognize all those tall tales you’re always regaling your co-workers with; like that time you met the famous super model at the grocery store and she slipped you her phone number, wink, wink.
Quirky is one thing, but it’s quite another thing when you use out-and-out deception to try to cover your you-know-what so the boss doesn’t blame you when a project goes south, or, if you’re trying to get even with a co-worker whom you feel makes you look bad.
Motor Mouth Molly
Also known as Chatty Cathy. Usually, characterized as a lovely woman, she just can’t shut up! Her excessive talkativeness forces her co-workers to duck into their cubicles to hide from her. When you listen to this chatterbox you think of that old fashioned phrase – diarrhea of the mouth! People just can’t get their work done when this yakker is around because she never stops talking and has no off switch. The best anyone can hope for is that Molly gets laryngitis!
Actually, his name is really a misnomer because he is truly inflexible. Mr. Stiff-As-An-Ironing-Board is one of those “it’s my way or the highway” kinda guys. He’s fixed, rigid, and even territorial when it comes to getting what he wants, a “Fight or Flight” sort of person. Sometimes this kind of worker can be viewed by others as an emotional terrorist. Usually, this individual reacts this way because he has a real fear of losing control and has to learn to relax and delegate when he is feeling pressured.
Mr. “Glory Days”
Likes to reminisce, swing down memory lane, regaling everyone with stories about what he did during his last twenty years at his former job. Likes to start sentences with “in the old days we used to …” Managers, supervisors, and co-workers politely listen to Mr. Nostalgia’s ramblings, but they just can’t seem to get him to do any work in this decade.
This guy is a show man, a ring master, if you will. He’s so enamored with Power Point you’d think he owned stock in Microsoft! He’s a Skype expert, always ready to give you his presentation, ready with charts, diagrams, and one of those fancy laser pointers. All very impressive, but, when he surrounds himself with all that whiz-bang this fellow is forgetting the power of being able to sit down and just talk with someone, face-to-face, without using the pretty pictures & visual aids to tell his story. Generally, he is a talented guy; he’s simply got bullet points on his brain.
Mr. “Relaxed” turned “Henny Penny”
This guy is calm, cool, and collected during many a crisis, but, sometimes Charlie just goes off! He can crack in two over something minor that’s happened and act like “the sky is falling.” (The phrase “the sky is falling” comes from a children’s folk tale called Henny Penny. Henny is a hen that gets hit on the head by an acorn and thinks it means the sky is falling. Eventually, Henny, and her friends, Goosey Lucy, and Turkey Lurkey, try to warn their King of the impending doom of the falling sky. But, before they find His Royal Highness, they all get eaten by Foxy Loxy. See what happens when you overreact?)
The reflection in the mirror appears to be Nathan’s best and only friend. He’s only out for himself and the rest of his fellow employees usually figure that out pretty quickly. Nate thinks he is special, so, he ignores deadlines on purpose. “They can’t mean me,” he thinks. He sets up his own rules and urges others to follow. Lastly, he has no integrity.
Nancy spends most of her working day, “liking,” “tweeting,” texting, and posting stuff on all the popular social networking web sites. Oh, she’ll tell her fellow employees she’s doing it all in the name of keeping up with technology and fostering good personal relationships with her customers. Truth is, she’s really not making any contribution at all and she’s forcing others to pick up her slack.
The only problem with this lady is that she’s a little too free with the atomizer. She may not realize it, but, some folks are highly allergic to perfumes and colognes. Yet, her quest to smell good is just as strong as the Eau de Toilette she keeps bathing in, almost daily. Of course, she does smell a whole lot better than The Great Unwashed.
Pete’s has that “can-do” attitude. He’s quick to say “yes” to every project. The only problem is he usually fails to follow through on any of them. He always seems to have some excuse for not getting his work done. Claims he does not like deadlines, mostly because he never meets them. Other people have to cover for his half-hearted attempts to produce something to keep the boss off his back. Eventually, people don’t want to work with this slacker because he never gets anything done.
Randy Risk Taker
Randy is fearless when it comes to taking a risk with someone else’s project or a client’s money. But executives take a dim view of risk takers when they make expensive mistakes. Often, after the first project goes sour, Randy’s bosses will begin plotting to get rid of him or move him to some other unfortunate department.
Stan is out for himself and everybody else knows it. He arranges private lunches with the boss & holds secret meetings to exclude certain co-workers. He tends to grabs all the overtime & plum assignments for himself and doesn’t give a whit about being fair to his fellow co-workers and seems to be missing in action when his team really needs him.
What he fails to realize is that word spreads quickly when a selfish co-worker is in everyone’s midst. And soon nobody will want to work with someone they find to be self-serving. Again, unfortunately, this kind of behavior seems almost normal in this me-first society we are living in; but, if Stan truly recognizes his problem he can change for the better.
Never utters a single word to anyone, ever. In fact, you often feel like putting a mirror under his nostrils just to see if he’s actually breathing. He thinks work is work and personal is personal.
Being shy is one thing, but this kind of anti-social behavior appears snobbish, rude, and seems downright weird. In these tumultuous times it may be just a little bit unnerving, too, for those who have to work with a person like this, not knowing anything about him. They may think he’s plotting something and bears watching.
Like a fried egg in a non-stick pan, things just seem to slide right off Tom. What’s more, he won’t let anything stick to him because he won’t take the blame no matter what role he played in the current office disaster, though he’ll point the finger at everyone else. His co-workers often wind up picking up his slack, get mad, and complain to the manager.
The Biggest Boozer
Everybody is stressed these days, but habitual drinking that spills over into the workplace environment can get a person fired, no matter how good a worker he or she is. People who have problems with alcohol (or drugs) have to recognize the problem and get help for it so they can get back on track. They may think employees around them can’t tell what’s going on, but, that’s just not true. And those who attempt to drink on the job, or while driving to and from work, are really asking for trouble from their employers – and the authorities.
The Biggest Bore
Okay, you’re familiar with the Biggest Boozer, now meet the Biggest Bore. This is the kind of guy that may try to convince you that he invented the Internet – no wait, that’s Al Gore!
Like to use phrases like trust me and don’t worry; translated that means – don’t trust anything I ever say and start worrying now! He’s the self-aggrandizing, I-know-a-whole-lot-more-about –it-than-you guy busy telling the world how smart he is and, in the process, is trying to make everyone else look really stupid. He truly has a dizzying intellect – at least that what he tells everyone else.
The Great Unwashed
These people simply don’t bother to: bathe, wash/comb their hair, brush their pearly whites, use mouth wash, wear deodorant/antiperspirant/clean clothes, or keep up with their personal hygiene, and may even have problems with uncontrollable flatulence!
One quick sniff lets you know they are in the vicinity. Strong odors often bother people, especially when they have to work in close quarters like cubicles. Short of throwing this person in a tub full of warm soapy water and hosing him or her down, there is not much you can do about his or her lack of tidiness, except hold your nose!
Nepotism is alive and well in many companies. You never know who you are talking to these days it could be a brother-in-law, a cousin, a sister or an uncle. And once you accidently find out who is related to who you are never quite sure if the person is reporting everything you say back to his or her relative.
Nothing like having a little “whine” and “Jeez” at the office; only Wesley does all the “whining” & sulking and you’re the one that keeps saying “Jeez” each time you listen to his complaints. A whining worker has a negative attitude and no desire to actually change the problem, whatever it is. Close relative of Debbie Downer. This complainer may talk endlessly, sometimes in a high-pitched nasal whine, about his throbbing paper cut. After hearing this a few thousand times, all you want to do is get some lemon juice and pour it directly into the wound!
By Barbara Perone