Bougie WorkTales

Bougie Workplace Chronicles - When Helping Your Own Goes Horribly Wrong

For those not in the know, my day job on Paycheck Plantation is Human Resources. Specifically Talent Acquisition Consulting. I've wanted to quit and write full-time for over ten years. The struggle continues. Let's move on...

There was a sister-girl on my team. Grown, over 40, been in recruiting a while. She seemed professional, hard-working, knowledgeable and pleasant. Right before Thanksgiving, we had to cut resources on my project. Client was slow to move candidates to hire status which impacted our billing which impacted our budget and the next thing you know, my team is cut from five to two. Le Boo, dammit.

But since I'm good people and I liked her (we'll call her Kendra), I found a position working on a similar project for the same client. I thought Kendra would be a fit and I recommended her to the higher ups. In chatting with her, I explained that the role she would be slotted into was high visibility, high stress, and high maintenance but if she did well, she could really craft her career moving forward. It's the role I started out in at this company and I've been able to maneuver around pretty well based on the contacts I made and th e revenue I generated. She was excited, management loved her, it was a done deal. Her job was saved, the holidays would be happy. Hurray for all, right? 

Fast forward a few months. I get a call from Kendra asking if I could authorize a pay increase because she was "doing way too much work for too little money" um... welcome to Corporate America, sista girl? Surely this was not her first time at the circus, she knew how the clowns played? Anyway... I tell her I have no such authorization capability but if she hung in there maybe she could bring it up with someone over my head after the first of the year when budgets were being reviewed.

Sometime in mid-January, Kendra goes gangsta. Calls up the Sr. Manager and Director and asks for her $$$. In fact, she demands $$$. Bad news for Kendra, she hadn't hired anyone in 62 days. So um... cuz for why are we giving you an increase when you're not close to hitting your target numbers? Kendra goes Shaquandraeneisha on us. She calls in Human Resources and tells them that I promised her a raise to get  her to take this job. AND that I have been exposing her to "same race racism" on a regular basis. 


Can someone look that up for me? What in all the fricky-frack of God's Good Kingdom is same race racism? Colorism, classism, ageism - I got those. Same race, what? She no longer reported to me, I only talked to her on client calls once a week. Was I racist for saying, "Hey girl" on the call? She said the rest of us on the team made her feel like she was in a hostile work environment. Ma'am? We all work FROM HOME? Who is messing with your living quarters? And what does that have to do with me? Girl bye...

Kendra quit working. Oh, she didn't quit her job, she just quit even pretending to be productive. Instead, she attempted to file suit against me, everyone up the chain three levels above me, the HR girl who told her she was tripping, the HR woman that the HR girl reported to... on and on. And of course since she had quit working, I had to step in and do all her shiggity so the client wouldn't trip. Say it with me now: Michele. Was. Tart. Turned on the computer every morning with my fist balled up.

The beauty (and pain) of the consulting business is that if people love you, you get put on the best projects and you're golden. If they don't, you get put on "the bench" - unpaid purgatory until another client picks you up and falls in love. We put Kendra on the bench. Brought in a former military Dudley Do Right type to take her place. So now I'm doing her job, training her replacement and doing all the shiggity for my own job which is significant since they never re-staffed my group. Say it with me now: Michele. Is. Tart.

What you can do to help is go out and buy 1 million copies of my books so I can quit. I'll throw a great party, you're all invited. :) Ha!

No really, the lesson learned is that you can't reach out to everybody. Because some folks will bite the hand that feeds.

Anyone been through this at work? Where you tried to help somebody out and it came back to bite you in your hindparts? Do share...

Human Resources WNTD #5308 - Go Gangsta about your compensation

As many of you know, I've been in H. R-uh for over 15 years. I've seen and heard a lot of good, a lot of bad and a lot of ugly. So every now and again, I like to share from the HR What Not To Do files for your education and entertainment. Usually though, I'm not the subject of the WNTD.

However, I have been fed up with my overall compensation package for a minute. Every time I tried to address it, I was diverted/shuffled/shutdown and basically foiled at every turn. So I waited until after performance appraisals were completed and I "succeeded expectations" across the board. I waited until they announced the well-over-projected profits on the recruiting project I handled solo for the majority of the year. And then I waited until I had other options lined up in case this discussion did not go well. Then I scheduled time on the Project Director's calendar to discuss my "career progression" and sent her an agenda of what I wanted to discuss.

Now all of that is the right way to launch a discussion about salary. Almost textbook in fact. What happened next... is not. 

I had a whole intro and a speech put together but by the time we wrapped up the chitchat, all I could say was - 'This is way too much work for way too little money. You can pay me more, work me less, or put me on another account where they will pay me more or work me less but I've hit the wall. So what's it going to be?"

**dead silence** And then finally she says, "How much more are we talking about?"

#Score! I named an outlandishly high number, she named a number that was what I really wanted all along and we agreed. Two hours later I received an email confirming my new comp. Bougie Gangsta. (Don't try this at home, folks)

BougieLand, have you asked for a raise before? How did it go and what did you learn? The floor is yours...

#PostRacismFAIL: "You don't sound black"

I work for a global human resources and recruiting company. Mid-size and large companies outsource their talent acquisition so that in essence, we are their virtual recruiting department. (Hence all the yoga pants references) The account I'm currently assigned to is a mid-size software company in the process of growing to the next level. It means they are profitable and generally have bought into the recruiting model we've sold them. It also means that they have some small company tendencies still lurking about.

The other day I was on a conference call with an executive from Scotland and a Human Resources rep from New Jersey. We were discussing an opening for the Chicago office. After drilling through the requirements/must haves/like to haves, the HR rep indicated that it would be great for diversity targets if we could hire a minority female into the role.

The exec asked, "Michele, do we know any minorities in HR or recruiting who can assist with this?"

I pressed the mute button so my snort of laughter would not be audible and then I un-muted and answered, "Besides me, you mean?"

**awkward silence**

The HR rep piped up, "Michele, are you some kind of black?" (Yes, the HR rep asked this)

I rolled my eyes, "I'm all kinds of black."

The Scotsman said, "But Michele isn't a black name, is it?"

A black name?! Deep sigh. "Well it's my name and I'm black so..."

HR rep, "You don't really sound black to me."

Now I'm fed up, "What exactly does black sound like?"

**awkward silence**

The Scotsman tried to save the day, "My apologies. I do so hope you're not offended."

"Why would I be offended about being black? I've been this way all my life." Yep, at that point I was enjoying their discomfort.

Scotsman, "Perhaps we should move on."

Me, "Certainly."

It was obvious that they were stunned to find out I was black. So I got to thinking - maybe I should drop some more colorful colloquialisms into my every day lexicon? A few "whaddup, whaddups" or perhaps I could enter the conference call with a rap "Yes, yes ya'll. I must confess ya'll. My name's Michele, I'm here to tell I'm blackity-black ya'll" - whatcha think?

No? Mayhaps I should play entry music upon my arrival to the call. I was thinking the processional music from Coming to America?

Or maybe the first few 30 seconds of the Circle of Life from The Lion King?

Gotta keep it classy while still blacking it up. :-/

BougieLand, do we even want to get into how many instances of post-racism FAIL they stumbld into here? Need we discuss just WTH a "black name" is? Don't get me started on the "sounding black" of it all? Have you ever been "racially misidentified" on the phone? How did you handle it? Thoughts, comments, insights?

Faking it - no, not that! Surviving the work social

3N and I were forced required compelled to go to his boss' get together last night. We hate those joints. His boss throws the whackest whitest least flavorful get togethers known to man. The last soiree involved a Risk marathon. You remember the game Risk? Took hours and hours and hours to play even when the world was divvied up in advance? Yeah...

So last night, we attend yet another freakity frickin' game night at dude's estate. It's not a house, it's an estate. Someone has to buzz you in to the neighborhood and then into his driveway and then into the house. The economy may be a pile of flaming shiggity but international wealth management is still straight stealing. 

Anyway, at least this time we were allowed to chose the game and chose our teams. Unfortunately, boss man and his very plastic wife wanted to be partners with me and 3N. [They are both just a little too damn friendly if you catch my drift, but that's a whole other post] So we chose Scene It for the Wii and sat down with 3 other teams to play. Boss Man hands me the controller, "Bring it home, sister."

**insert laugh track here** [Why I gotta be a sister tho?]

If I had $100 for every time 3N and I did the fake laugh, he and I would be on a plane to Costa Rica for a 10-day all expense paid vacation right now. "Oh my God, you are too funny. Stop, you're killing me. It's too much! He-he-he." The one boss man's his wife took her eyes off of 3N's ass to catch my eye and exchange a glance, I knew she had probably been faking much more than laughter for quite some time. Bless her bleach blonde heart.

It was just a quirk that a lot of the movies in this round of Scene It were mafia movies and it was Mob Week on AMC last week. The other half of the questions were sci-fi and 3N is Mr. Science Fiction. It took no time at all to wrap that game up. There was an awkward moment when one of 3N's coworkers tried to make some sort of joke about a movie he had seen where the aliens had Asian brains and Negro penises. Yeahhhhh.... you know when you're the only people of color in the room and everybody looks at you to see if you're going to start a race riot over some shiggity?

3N to the rescue, "Sounds like you might need more work to do if you have enough spare time to watch movies like that, Jeff."

**insert louder laugh track here** "Ha, ha - you sure told him!"

After making small talk for another twenty minutes and nursing soft drinks, we made our excuses. We have a routine:
3N: "Well, you know Michele's a busy lady, I don't want her to turn into a pumpkin."
Me: "At least not until you buy me the diamond slippers!"
"Diamond slippers"
"That's inflation for you!"
"So funny!"
"You two are so cute!"

It was all giggles until boss man's wife said, "I was hoping you'd stick around, we're going to open some champagne and take a swim in a little while."

We exchanged glances, 3N was looking slightly panicky. I took one for the team. "Girlfriend, you know I just got my hair done. Don't come between a black woman and a fresh do."

"He-he-he! I hear you, girlfriend!"

Whew, we were outta there.

BougieLand, the chit-chatter. The fake work laugh. The stories you've heard before but sit through again. The happy hours that aren't mandatory... but really are. The pretense of liking folks you would never (ever, ever) spend time with otherwise... who's done it and how'd you get through it? Have you developed a work social persona? An exit strategy? Do tell...

Why can't we be friends? The case for (against) work wives/husbands...

There is a brother at the new consulting gig who started the same day I did. He kinda rolled up round lunch time on the first day and introduced himself. A bunch of us went out to eat and he offered to drive. He held open the passenger and said, "Michele?" Oh. I guess I got shotgun. During the course of the meal, he mentioned a wife and I mentioned a significant other. Nuff said (as far as I was concerned). We also found out that we know a half dozen of the same people and worked at the same companies (at different times) in the last twelve years. Long story short, we had a similar professional background.

So for the past three days, we took to sitting next to each other and sharing the "are we there yet?" look with one and other. This afternoon, one of the girls said "So are you two a couple now?" 

**crickets** with a large dose of #HOP (Hold On Playa) two side-eyes and a WDDDA? No. Ma'am. We both, at the same time said, "No!" 

One woman said, "Yeah, that's how it starts. I've got my eye on you two."

Really, I didn't feel the need to discuss it any further. They don't know what I've got at home. They don't know what he's got at home. I only met this man 72 hours ago and beyond comparing work notes and an affinity for turkey and avocado on multigrain... that's all I knew. But the room at large felt the need to launch into a discussion of "work wives" and "work husbands" and that's how office romances start. I rolled my eyes and stepped outside to tweet.

Later when I was talking to New Ninja about it he nodded and then said, "Sure men and women can be work friends but believe me, he's already tucked you away in a 'might make a play for later' file."

Me, "What? No. It wasn't even like that."

Him, "It wasn't like that to you. Did he ask for your cell number as a 'professional contact'?"

Me, "Well, yeah. He called tonight to say he's assigned to different office."

Him, "Umm-hmm. You're in the 'come back around' file."

Me, "So you're saying they are no professional contacts. It's either a love thing or a 'maybe later' thing?"

Him, "No. There are professional contacts. Those consist of people you are not now nor never will be interested in romantically. And then there are professional contacts that you wouldn't mind sliding over to the personal side of the scale. Even if you never act on it."

Me, "I don't agree."

Him, "Ask BougieLand."

Fine (muttering under breath about folks trying to use my blog to prove their l'il point). BougieLand... do tell. Do you have a work husband or wife? What's the dynamic with "work spouses", are they people you would be with if you had the opportunity? Does it really all come down to the age old "Can men and women ever really be 'just friends'" question? Do share your thoughts, insights, comments...

Five things NOT to do on your first day of work (or ever!)

So many of you know that I've sacrificed my personal "I work for me and only me" pledge to participate in a program to get unemployed folks back to work. Yesterday, we had our first day of training. Half of the group is A+, the other half... well, bless their hearts. As I sat on a cheap uncomfortable plastic chair for seven hours, I witnessed more straight ratchet workplace behavior than I thought possible. It got me to thinking, do people really just not know how to act in the workplace?? Just in case folks need a reminder, here are five things NOT to do on your first day of work (really... ever!).

1) Show up 30 minutes late. I wish I was joking. Dude sauntered in 30 minutes late, no coffee, no pastries, no explanations, no apologies and asked, "What time were we supposed be here?" No. Sir. Just all parts of hellnoness. When he excused himself to go to the restroom and didn't come back for 45 minutes, he was excused from the party. This is a government contract, they don't play like dat.

2) B!tch and complain about your assignment. Grown Azz Woman comes in and within fifteen minutes starts asking each person which role they've been hired for. Apparently the answer was not to her liking because her mood took a nose dive. Then we were told which offices we were assigned to. Is it my fault that I knew enough to request an office that is 2.8 miles from my house? She didn't and upon hearing the role and office she was assigned, she commenced to mutter snippishly under her breath. At the first sign of our HR rep, she stalked and cornered her. After an angry exchange Grown Azz Woman comes back to the training room, snatches her purse and disappears into the hot Texas afternoon... never to be seen again.

3) Fall asleep at the conference room table. Yo girlie, it's a round table... we can see you. And now you're drooling on said table... that's nasty ma'am. After she was kicked under the table for the second time, she started mainlining coffee. And then she had to get up and pee every thirty minutes. Way to make a first impression with the State Director in the room. 

4) Answer your cell phone in the middle of training. Yup. Trainer was up there getting his little teach on, cell phone vibrates loudly on the table and she picks it up. "Hey! Can I call you back?" No Ma'am. The entire room swiveled their heads to gape at her. Really?! She tried to clean it up by saying it was her realtor, she's selling her house and she had to take the call. Sweetie, that's what text messaging and voicemail are for. Step out of the room and handle your business.

5. Overshare your personal tales of woe. One dude felt the need to add something flavorful to every comment  he made. So much flavor that I know he's been married twice, grew up in Buffalo, has been laid off three times in ten years and has an unhealthy obsession with thai noodles (you don't want to know). At one point, his diarrhea of the mouth ran on so long, the trainer cut him off and sent us all out for a fifteen minute break. Don't you know when we came back, he launched into a story about how his dream house was in foreclosure... no it had no relevance to the conversation at large. Maintain some mystery, sir... we are of the not giving a damn variety.

What say you, BougieLand? Am I just too used to my own company? Is it me or are these terrible breaches of first day protocol? What's wrong with folks?

Five great things about work

Wrapping up Bougie WorkTales week, I thought we'd end on a positive note. For all of the things I find wrong and/or irritating with The Paycheck Plantation, there are a few undeniable plusses available. Here are a few:

Working can give you a sense of purpose. For anyone that has ever been laid off or unemployed, nothing beats the feeling of getting that next offer of employment. Putting your skills to the test, solving problems, feeling useful, getting it done. The ability to test your knowledge and ability to execute against the tasks assigned to you, the chance to prove yourself as equal (or better) than others… that's good stuff. It's a reason (in case you need one) to get up in the morning and be about your day.

You are exposed to new things. If you are fortunate, you generally get the opportunity to learn different disciplines, interact with a lot of different kinds of people and basically expand the world you know. If you have the opportunity to travel in and out of the United States, it's an eye-opening realization. While corporate travel is by no means glamorous, you do learn to open yourself to new experiences, people, places and airport security procedures. [Just sayin'] The workplace is a constantly evolving place (hopefully) allowing to you grow along it.

For some it's an escape. Let's face it: Sometimes your home life can be dramatic. On more than one occasion I have had a co-worker say that coming to work was a relief. One said she just needed a break from her kids (especially during the summer months). There's nothing like a huge pile of work to take your mind off of everything else. Sometimes the simplest and most mundane of tasks (for me it was creating reporting spreadsheets) can block out everything else going on in the world and that's just what we need.

The satisfaction of a job well done. I admit it… I love a well-earned atta-girl. When I have work my rear-end off, turned in a quality project and it's acknowledged – one of the best feelings in the world. I recall making a proposal to the board of directors of a global technologoy company. I was requesting $ 4 million for a staffing/training project. I only had 3 days to prepare because my boss had gone crazy trying to put this project together and sent a flame-o-gram email at four in the morning telling everybody in his chain of command (up to the chairman of the board) exactly what was wrong with this company. (Strastospheric FAIL) So you might say I was nervous going in. After I finished speaking, the room was dead silent. One of the members said, "Who are you again?" Did I mention that I was a contractor? I explained that I was basically a hired gun brought in two weeks prior to help out. *AWKWARD* Then they dissolved into laughter, approved the project and gave me a raise. Not only did I get the project going, it was a raging success. There's no better feeling.

Last but not least… The Cheddar, The Mayo, The Diggity-Dollars, The Benjamins. As Wu-Tang Clan said: C.R.E.A.M. – Cash Rules Everything Around Me (dolla dolla bills, ya'll). Very few people would do their jobs for free and very few people would keep doing what they are currently doing if they suddenly became independently wealthy. Money is important. It makes the worlds go around. It provides for your most basic needs and your most outlandish desires. If you're in the right kind of environment, as you progress your paycheck grows with you. If you are in one of those positions with bonuses, incentives, stock options and perks… paydays can bring a huge smile to your face. But at the very basic level, a fair paycheck for an honest day's work is the foundation upon which capitalism is built. Plainly put, paychecks rock.

Anybody else have one to add? Thoughts on my list? Comments, insights, theories? The floor is yours. Thanks for sticking with me this week.

Five quick truths about the Workplace

There are so many "truisms" I could share about the Paycheck Plantation but I decided to share the five that sprang to my mind as extremely true no matter what kind of work environment you find yourself in. Without any fanfare, here are five quick things I know to be true about the workplace:

Some people just do not have a good work ethic. This is something that in my opinion has to be taught from a young age. If a person has never been taught (and shown) that you have to work for what you earn, the workplace is not where they are going to pick it up. I remember trying to mentor one young lady who acted like a paycheck was an entitlement just because she showed up every day. Very few companies have the patience to teach someone how to hustle. You either get it or you don't. And the ones that don't… wow! It's painful to have them around. There is just always someone who comes in not wanting to be there, watches the clock all day and leaves without accomplishing much. Every. Single. Day.

Some people live to work, not work to live. On the flip side, for some people – their job is their whole life. It's literally who they are, not what they do. You can't separate one from the other and neither can they. While on one hand, it's admirable that someone is that dedicated; on the other hand it's overwhelming for people who actually want to have lives outside of their 9 – 5. This person usually suggests the 7:00/8:00 am meeting, working through lunch and coming in on Saturday. There is a difference between great work ethic and workaholic.

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. This is why hiring is integral to an organization. Chemistry is everything. Bringing in one super-negative or super-sloppy or ultra-anal or not-as-talented or over-hyper person in a group without those characteristics is disastrous. Not that everybody needs to have the same work styles, but they have to be complimentary or all hell will break loose. The "bad seed" will bring down one other team member and the dominoes start to fall from there. I've seen it happen too often. There is truth to "work wives" and "work husbands", relationships with the people you spend 40 to 100(!) hours a week with need just as much care as any other.

Some people are only in it for the money. And that's fine. If you are a manager, knowing what motivates your workers is half the battle. Some people love their jobs and the people they work with. They are blessed and rare. Some are just about the paycheck. They don't want all the warm fuzzies, they don't want to bond; they don't want to make friends... they want their check. And they want their check to be bigger than everybody else's. As long as their single-minded pursuit of dollar bills doesn't infringe on your world, live and let live. There is nothing wrong with the paper chase unless you have to be shady to get it.

Not everybody is meant to do everything. God Bless Us Every One. The founder of Wendy's, Dave Thomas once said, "Some folks are better with the fries & Frostys than figures and forecasts." Okay? Not everyone is good with numbers. Not everyone is on their written communication game. Not everybody programs or writes code. And that's okay unless… you are a terrible writer in a communications role. You are terrible with numbers and you're in the accounting department. You're not a people person but you WORK IN HUMAN RESOURCES. [let me breathe in, breathe out, woo-sah] My point is sometimes what people are actually doing is not what they are good at. And until they face that reality (or someone makes them face it), work life is tough for us all. There is something to be said for "career path management."

So that's my list for today. What have you got? I could dedicate a whole post (and I still may) about one other truth – Not everybody who is in a management position knows how manage people effectively. Let BougieLand say Amen. 

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes – so examples of things you know to be true about the workplace? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours.

I can’t go for that – Workplace traditions I’m not feeling

Part of the problem with working for other people is well… you're working for someone other than yourself. You spend a lot of time in the promotion of that brand as opposed to pushing TeamOne. Or as I refer to mine, CheleCo. CheleCo can't prosper while I'm hustling day and night for Big Corporate Co. Plus, Big Corporate Co has all sorts of random expectations (beyond just delivered work product) that grated on my last nerve. Here are just a few:

The obligatory birthday celebration: Le Huge Sigh. I listed it as number one because it is my least favorite thing. The passing of the card (always some drama). The herding of people into the conference room for the singing, cake cutting and whatnot. If you don't go, you're anti-social. If you go but don't want cake, you're making other people feel bad. What if I'm on a diet? What if I don't care for the person whose birthday we're celebrating? What if it's my birthday? You want to wish me a happy birthday? Give me the day off with pay. Nothing says "Happy Birthday!" like getting paid to sleep in.

Weekly Staff Meetings: Very few people know how to run these well. Just because a meeting is scheduled for an hour doesn't mean we have used every second. If we've done the updates and status reports in a half hour… cut us loose. But no. There's always one person who has some drama and waited until the staff meeting to bring it up. This also plays into my peeve above about folks who call a meeting but have no agenda.

Bosses' Day: I'm sorry. What is this fake-ass holiday about? Don't I spend all year doing for my boss? I'm required to show some special appreciation too? I once remarked (loudly), "Isn't EVERY day Bosses' Day?" My VP didn't appreciate it. Guess who was in charge of the celebration. L

Performance Appraisals: I know they are necessary. The problem is that people rarely use them as they are meant to be used – to set goals and review your performance against previous goals that have been discussed and agreed upon. You don't let somebody eff up all year and then nail them in the performance appraisal. The appraisal shouldn't be used as a weapon. Also, there should be few surprises. No one should find out on page nine of their annual review that no one thinks they are a team player. An effective manager really should level-set expectations. If someone thinks they are shining and about to get a juicy increase/promotion and you put them on a 60-day warning… that's a manager FAIL. Don't get me to preaching performance management.

State of the Company: Otherwise known as the All Hands' Meeting. If it's via conference call, it's almost bearable. But how painful is an all-day mandatory all hands on deck in person meeting where the muckety-mucks roll out the corporate speak: "We've had a challenging quarter but our turnaround strategy is sound. By innovating and striving for continuous excellence, we can reach our potential. But we need everyone giving 110% with their head in the game, it's going to take us rolling up our sleeves and making a team effort. Quality, Service-Driven, Results Oriented… that's our plan." Okay but what does that mean?

Team Building Exercises: I've played games, I've run races, I've gone on retreats, done the backwards trust fall, held hands and sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" (I wish I was joking) all in an effort to team build. I've never understood how forcing me to play Pictionary with the Benefits Manager after hours at the Director's mansion does anything other than solidify my opinion that the Benefits Manager was an idiot and that there was four hours of my life I'll never get back. Whenever I'm asked to provide ideas for team building I say the same thing: have everybody stop working one Friday of the month at twelve. Force them to sit together while you feed them then send them home early with pay – that's team building.

One day, I'll have to go in on Holiday parties, Company picnics and Freakin' Secret Santa. I could go in all day. But let's hear from you. What cutesy work "thing" drives you nuts? Are you sick of the white sheet cakes was super sweet frosting? Do share. The floor is yours…

You might be a terrible co-worker if…

Continuing Bougie WorkTales Week… a list that you do not want to be on.

Let's face it; work is better place to be if we all just get along. Human nature doesn't really work that way but there are some things that one can avoid in order not to be hated (or severely disliked). Without further ado, you might be a terrible co-worker if:
  • People can smell you coming before they see you coming. I have had the unfortunate experience of having to send someone home because of the cloud of funk surrounding them. Even more awkward was the case of the gentleman who only bathed once a week for religious reasons. I had to move him and two of his like-minded friends into a room of their own on a different floor. How much did I hate to go in there for anything? Funk is bad. Febreeze covered funk is just flower-flavored funk. Put it on a bumper sticker.

  • You are never on time for anything. Ever. Even if you are hosting the conference call (one of my pet peeves). You never make the eight o'clock meeting on time, you're always a day (or more) past a deadline. You're the person who promises to send an email in fifteen minutes and four hours later I'm still looking for it. A word of advice – do NOT travel with this person. It will make you crazy.

  • You can't keep a secret. Workplaces are just high schools with paychecks, a benefits plan, and a much sterner principal. Everybody is in everyone else's business and confidences get shared. Learn the difference between sharing an interesting tidbit, "I hear she applied for a transfer to Iceland" and straight snitching, "She makes $8,500 more than everyone else in the department." Mind your own, please.

  • Your lips stay attached to the bosses hindparts. You know who you are. The bossman never said a word you didn't agree with. You laugh at the terrible jokes, co-sign the offbeat commentary and think it's a GREAT idea to have that meeting at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon. [serious side-eye to that one]

  • You are sleeping your way through the organization chart. Hmm, how to say this? Hump at home. Keep it zipped at work. If you must get buckwild with a co-worker, swear each other to secrecy and sign a blood oath. If it's some one you are in a direct reporting relationship with… you're asking (begging) for trouble. It never pans out and it always comes back to bite you in the ass. Pun intended. There are a ton of clichéd phrases for this: Don't dip your fingers in company ink, don't shiggity where you eat… you get the idea.

  • You pass the buck. Assignment lands on your desk and you always (ALWAYS) find a way to pass it on to someone else. As a matter of fact, you have perfected the art of doing very little and taking responsibility for not a darned thing. We don't like you. Watch your back.

  • You send out those cutesy joke emails all day. One joke, one cute anecdote during the day… fine. But don't be that person who sends fifty-eleven jokes about kittens and grandmas. And the Jesus prayer chains? Um, I appreciate the blessings but telling me that none of my prayers will come true if I don't forward it to twelve people in the next twelve minutes cannot be the kind of discipleship Jesus had in mind.

  • You never see the silver lining and always discuss the cloud. Aargh. We called this person Depression Dan or Zoloft Zelda. They are perennially unhappy and let everybody know. They are the person that opens the bonus check you weren't supposed to get in the first place and complains (loudly), "Is this all we're getting?" We may be thinking it Dan/Zelda, we don't say it. Your barrage of blues is bringing everybody down. Try walking on sunshine… just once. Please.

  • You tell us (repeatedly) that this is not how it was done at your last job… the one where you were a star. Granted, we haven't seen any evidence of that shiny brightness here but you are hell bent on reminding us how things used to be done wherever you came from. This prompts us to wonder why you left (or got the boot) and why you just don't go back to the place where the streets are paved with gold and champagne flows from the water fountains.

  • You flat-out suck at your job. Yes, you do. Someone (usually me) has to re-do everything you touch. You do not catch on quickly. Your learning curve is Mt. Everest. Several times a day, you approach people with the opening phrase, "Can I ask you something real quick?" Le Sigh. It takes less time for me to take it from you and do it than for me to explain it to you. But you know that already, don't you? No one understands how you got this job or how you are still employed. Yet here you are.
If you recognize yourself in 2 or more of these examples, you may want to think about opening up your own shop. Seriously… don't be this guy/girl. Can anyone think of a terrible co-worker trait I forgot? Do you know any of the folks I listed above? Comments, insights, thoughts? Do share…