Life on the Paycheck Plantation is hard enough. Over 80% of Americans don't care for what they do. Over 85% don't believe they are well compensated for what they so. And less than 35% like and respect the people they work with. Wow, that makes for a lot of 9 to 5 drama and hostility. All this being said, there is a group of especially evil arch-enemies to be on the lookout for. This group of weaselly workplace woe-makers make it hard to get through each and every day. As I was discussing with TiffanyInHouston last night, the tomfoolery we put up with at work is tough enough without having to deal with THESE folks right here:
- The 'Why Are they Still Employed' One: You KNOW this person. They are perennially late, rarely contribute and when they do… it's just not that useful. This person has multiple complaints against them filed with HR, they've been shifted from department to department and when you find out they are assigned to your project you fall to your knees, palms upwards screaming, "Why me, God? Why me?" I have had the miserable fortune to have this person assigned as my assistant. She "forgot" to schedule meetings. She "lost" new hire paperwork. Salary change forms that I filled out and forwarded to her for processing never made it to the payroll department. I lost all confidence in her ability to do the simplest task. This meant I not only did my job but hers too. It got so bad that I stopped speaking to her altogether and put everything in electronic (traceable) format. I saved every email she sent and every read receipt proving that she opened what I sent. When she "accidentally forgot" to put through a Vice-President's promotion, she claimed that I had never sent it to her for processing. When I produced the FOURTEEN emails I had sent her along with her email telling me it was done and to "quit asking" – she was transferred to another office to terrorize someone else. Only then was I told that she had been with the company for 22 years (still an assistant after 22 years?!) and had been transferred 39 times. Everyone's best guess is that she had intimate knowledge of where the bodies were buried and was therefore impervious to termination. The problem with this person is that they are poison and infect everything they touch. How to defeat them? Pray they retire, are transferred to the Minot, North Dakota office or a Human Resources person with balls gives them the kick.
- The Nosy Sunny Not-so-Good Neighbor: They are overly friendly. They want to know everything about you. They (blatantly) listen to your phone calls and conferences and then want to discuss them with you. They study the pictures in your office, they comment on every outfit you wear. When you bring lunch from home, they want to know how you cooked it and can they have the recipe. They over share details about their personal lives. They are that overeager puppy dog that you want to kick but can't bring yourself to do it. They just want to be your friend SO badly. The line between professional and personal does not exist for them. I had a woman like this at a company where I was supposed to be a short-term consultant (ended up staying for two years). She wanted to eat with me (everyday!), come by my house after work, work out where I worked out and know every little thing about me. Every afternoon she wanted us to be gal-pals and walk over to the Starbucks for matching frappuccinos. I indulged her right up to the point where she bopped in one day and announced (loudly) that she had a dream about me the previous night. Apparently in this dream I was a crack ho standing out on street corners. THE HELL? She thought it was a hilarious anecdote. I couldn't understand why you would even joke about something like that in a professional setting. I was so insulted, I couldn't even see straight. I cut her off. No coffee, no walks, barely a good morning. An opportunity came for me to work from home and I was out. How to defeat them? Keep them at arm's length at all times.
- The Perennial Suck-Up/Goal line Fumbler: This person, also known as the Brown-Nose FAIL, keeps their lips firmly attached to whichever hind part they think will keep them gainfully employed. They have to suck up because they have never successfully completed a major project or turned in a winning idea. They have no spectacularly discernable job skills. They are good for small tasks and busy work, you can often find them picking up the 100 color copies from Kinko's... but be sure you send them well ahead of deadline or they will miss it. This person sits right beside the boss at a meeting. They offer to bring the coffee and are usually the keeper of the freaking office birthday list. Every once and a while, a new manager will come in and confuse them for someone competent. You are the person who has to clean up after the fumbler has made a mess. The fumbler says Yes! to everything the boss suggests and is the company cheerleader. I had one of these on my team when I was managing a ridiculous project for a large bank based in North Carolina. No matter what I said, this person agreed and asked the team, "Isn't that a great idea? Aren't we lucky to have her as a manager?" Problem was, this was his only skill. I needed another worker more than a cheerleader. I'm ashamed to say I transferred him to another team. How to defeat them? No need, they'll implode soon enough.
- The Operative (Stealth-Bombing Back-Stabbing Saboteur): Nothing appears to be wrong with this person, that's how tight their 007 game is. They perform well, are friendly without getting too close and appear to be true professionals. Little do you know they are just laying back in the cut waiting for their opportunity to strike. They are brilliant information gatherers and when they can't find anything to use against you, they make it up. Unfortunately, they are so on their game that though others suspect it may be them, there's no proof. They are the person who blindsides you in a meeting by presenting the idea you have been working on for days. They work well with you just long enough to stick a knife in when your back is turned and by the time you figure out what happened, you're reporting to them. Early in my career I had a "mentor" like this. She was my friend, came to my house, bought me a birthday present, and talked me up to Executive Leadership. She was my champion right up until the time she considered me a threat and since only one black female was allowed on the ladder, she did what she felt she had to do to knock me off. It came out of left field and I never saw it coming. I left the company shortly after. Lesson learned. How to defeat them? Don't worry about it, that's what karma is for. Old girl was summarily dismissed shortly thereafter, ended up getting a divorce and being quite miserable for a while.
- The Undeserving Golden Child/Chosen One: For reasons unbeknownst to you, this person has been anointed. They are the heir apparent to the throne and everyone treats them as such. They are not always the best or the brightest but when they speak, everyone listens. Their entire career has been one swift fast-track and the rules for everyone else don't apply to them. Often they are related to someone already in a position of power at the company. There is no need to fight it, you could work twice as long and three times as hard and you will never catch up to them or beat them at this game. I worked at a small minority-owned company in California where the VP of HR (my boss) was the CEO's sister. Never you mind that old girl had no background in HR and knew less about employee relations than Diddy. That was apparently why they brought me in. It did not take long for me to weary of being the working wizard behind the scenes in Oz. How to defeat them? Unless they do something so unforgivably terrible that they are sent into hiding, there's no stopping this person – you'll be working for them before you can say Performance Evaluation.
Well, it was hard to cut the list off at five; this may become another recurring series. So what do you think, have you seen these people? Have a few more to add to the list? Stories of workplace horrors to share?