IT Employment

The six types of difficult co-workers

Tim McClintock, PMP and Global Knowledge Instructor, has compiled a list of the most difficult types of people. It's hard enough to deal with these kinds of people in the wild, but when they're your co-workers, it can be dreadful.

Tim McClintock, PMP and Global Knowledge Instructor, has compiled a list (below) of the most difficult types of people. It's hard enough to deal with these kinds of people in the wild, but when they're your co-workers, it can be dreadful. Recognize any of these types?

The Steamroller

This is the bully of the group -- always interrupting, insulting, and yelling. We all know those types.

The Sniper

These are the folks who hide in the back of room, always sniping -- taking shots at everyone, constantly nitpicking back at you, sending out comments, etc. They always want to do this from "under cover." If you call them on it they say, "Oh, I'm just kidding," or, "Can't ya take a joke?" or, "I didn't say anything!" They always have a comment.

The "Can't Say No" Person

Will not say no to work. The problem is they won't say no, they won't say no, they won't say no . . . and then they finally just collapse!

The Know-It-All

Do I have to say anything else? Need I say more? They know it all!

The Complainer

Chronic complainers! Chronic whiners! To them, life is one big complaint!

The Staller

The Indecisive Staller. This is the person who just will not make a decision. They will not commit to anything; they are always stalling.

I have encountered these types everywhere I've worked and have even been some of them myself to various degrees. Here are some that I'd like to add to Mr. McClintock's list:

The Empty Promiser

This is the person who says he'll send you that information or write up that report but never does. You waste so much time reminding him of his promise that you might as well have done it yourself.

The Scatter-Brain

This one just can't seem to get it together. Can become the Empty-Promiser if left unchecked.

Got any to add?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

67 comments
sigipitalagato
sigipitalagato

yeah, this person is always hanging out at your boss' door almost everytime, laughing, making small conversations with your manager. this person would wipe and kiss your boss' behind JUST TO GET AHEAD above everybody else! i've worked with this person and i tell you, he would do anything just to get noticed. apparently, he got noticed and was moved to another position, afterwhich, he became cocky (no surprise there!) and would always act like he's the manager! what a loser!

sigipitalagato
sigipitalagato

this is what i call, the "i have to save my job" move.

rsbhatia16
rsbhatia16

Besides these, there are some useful team-mates too....we should also try to look beyond the -ve ones!

sherman.meeds
sherman.meeds

I'll add two: The Future-Tech: Always wants to implement new technology immediately, touting positive elements of reviews. Probably intending to get it onto his/her resume quickly. The Blind-Believer: The person who believes every article on a subject. Doesn't think about a topic, just blindly believes what the last article said.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

This person likes to take your ideas to make themselves look good and do it in such a way that if you claim credit for the idea you'll look like a fool. I have 'fond' memories of a few backstabbers that I've worked with.

pgit
pgit

I'm a totally self motivated guy, comes from 18 years as a jet jockey, 11 of them as chief pilot/director of ops. The buck starts and stops here. And I'm a sensitive sort, to a one the people that worked for me loved the job and most say those were the best days (of the work variety) of their lives. The type that just kills me is someone who can take the wind out of your sails in an instant, every time. Like a fire hose putting out a match. Most of the ideas I came up with were to make a grueling job more enjoyable. (or tolerable) I had one fellow who could take whatever idea I was proposing and calculate out how human nature would eventually thwart it, where and how (and how often) the plan would be abused. I guess having the wind sucked out of my sails bugs me because my father was the king of such behavior. I could give an example that would prove that assertion that in retrospect is actually kinda funny. Happened when I was 6 and heard a new Beatles tune on the (AM) radio for the first time...

MSM
MSM

I don't get it - I go on hiatus for a bit and I come back and the Tech Republic blog comments are full of idiotic replies that waste more time than reading the article - which is 1) obviously a hasty summary designed to spark discussion, not a planned "article" and 2) contains content that's almost all credited to someone else, so I don't get why there's all this bashing on the author. Have you complainers ever HAD to write blog articles on a deadline when your plate is already full or when you're about to start your vacation? Call the kettle black when you have better content of your own to link us back to.

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

I'm an Over-Under Achiever! I take on a project, I want to get it done and over with (if its something I like) if it hangs around for any period of time after I think its done it becomes luggage I don't want and I tend to avoid contact with it, (alot like my ex wife)

sutyakk
sutyakk

I've got one to add: The Over Analyzer - The person who has to sit down and waste time trying to analyze and characterize everyone. Each of the people in the list are stereotyped due to a common characteristic that they exhibit, but at times we exhibit many of these traits. In the end, good leadership is about enforcing appropriate behaviors, promoting teamwork, and motivating and inspiring employees. Analysis is only good if it leads us to make better downstream decisions that will improve effectiveness and/or efficiency.

dnpate
dnpate

How do you try to make it better?

lesleyo81
lesleyo81

Oh man, you must have worked at my place! What a nightmare.

lexys
lexys

I've seen this one regularly, they could be the boss's wife, son, daughter, nephew, niece or "very good friend" (in other words, friends with benefits...).They can do whatever the hell they want, they can cause trouble amongst co-workers, they can openly abuse people, they can get you fired if they don't like you. They also can break all of the company's policies, they can work slowly, muck around, and even produce low-quality work. If your work is better than theirs they also can become snipers and try to discredit you under the guise of a joke. Making formal complaints about these people only puts you at the top of the firing list. In one place i worked at, the complainant was assaulted in the carpark after work by the boss's male relatives. She took them to court but nobody would come forward as a witness because they would all get fired, and probably assaulted too if they did. So she ended up having to pay court costs and was asked to leave the job. In another place, we had the Sales Manager's son come in as the dispatch worker, next thing you know, he's going through production telling us all how to do our jobs and when he wants those particular jobs ready on his bench for packing. Oh, and then he was trying to get us to help with packing because he spent so much time going through the whole building pissing everybody off. Every complaint about him was met with "I'll keep my eye on him." Any time he complained about me not co-operating and helping him with packing, the manager would come out and give me a spiel about how I should be listening to the DH. There's more, but I think this has already turned into a ten page novel!

delvalle3d
delvalle3d

Like to add the narcissist...it "ALL about them" Recently I was on a team consisting predominantly of narcissists and snipers...incredible combo! What I found ironic was that the complainer on the team outlasted everyone...she whined about everything but managed to stay on the job and even rise a peg...go figure? Biz life is truly stranger than fiction.

ozzyandus
ozzyandus

Ok already...I actually think sometimes articles that just let me reflect on some of these topics and ideas are a good thing once in a while...but I think the author may have intended for us to discuss these types of co-workers and just maybe offer a suggestion or two on how to handle them. No need to bad-mouth the writer, she is doing her job which is keeping you busy when you are not busy. I think, if you don't have anything positive to say, just don't say it! I am one that can find value in most things and in general this article made me think about my coworkers and what categories they actually fit into and did indeed make me think of ways to deal with them. Dear Author - I applaud your work, it can't be easy to find topics to discuss consistently that can inform and sometimes entertain the masses.

jim
jim

This person can manage to cast every positive accomplishment of your team in a negative light. Examples: Input: "Great news, we just worked hard to sign up a new client that will make $100,000.00 in new revenue and they finally signed the contract!" Response: "That sucks. It will probably only be half that revenue and we have to hire new people now." Input: "Great news, we just finished a difficult project on-time and under budget that will increase gross revenue by 20% from the new services we can offer." Response: "That sucks. Now we have to train people on the new process and the software probably won't work right." In addition, this consistent behavior is taken together with puzzlement about the low morale around here.

tim.mcclintock
tim.mcclintock

Thank you to all who have taken time to add comments. I have enjoyed reading them. A positive discussion of the ideas presented in the original article involving open, honest communication can only serve to be productive and beneficial for all of us as we seek to make our work environment the best it can be. The original article, which does contain suggestions for dealing with the different personality types and discusses methods for working with them, also serves as a call for adaptation on our part as leaders, managers, and co-workers when possible. I totally agree with the comments that to only categorize, without offering solutions would not be as helpful or productive. As noted above, for the full article, download it here: http://www.globalknowledge.com/training/whitepaperdetail.asp?pageid=502&wpid=413&country=United+States Tim McClintock PMP CEO, NetBridge Communications Senior Instructor, Global Knowledge, Inc.

ps.techrep
ps.techrep

THE CATEGORIZER uses his limited experience to divide everything and everybody he meets into neatly-defined categories. The ultimate case of know-it-all, his rigid method of thinking bars him from accepting new paradigms and methods that clash with his preconceived ideas and experience. Perhaps the most dangerous of all mentalities, this kind of person has been responsible for perpetuating xenophobia under the label of "nationalism", for major atrocities ranging from holy wars to global destruction, for "ethnic cleansing" and wars without purpose or exit strategies. The telltale sign of the categorizer is that many of his categories seem to have no purpose except to explain away his own failures. Everything that is wrong is the result of something being in one of his "bad" categories. Rather than try to utilize the characteristics of a "bad" category as a constructive resource, the categorizer often rejects the members of the category entirely. The "difficult co-worker" categories are symptomatic of the most difficult of all co-workers - the ineffective or incompetent manager. When peoples' talents and aptitudes are being effectively channeled into performing work that benefits the entire group, their quirks are recognized as strengths, not defects. In the examples given, the steamroller is the kind of person who is ideal for handling a difficult and thankless job. Pair up a steamroller and a staller. The know-it-all often does knows a lot, and because he feeds off of recognition, can be made into a valued subject matter expert. Pair up a KIA with a whiner to whittle away at the whiners complaints - some of them are real problems that need to be solve, and a sniper can act as a devils advocate or quality control. A can't-say-no is eager to please and is only a problem to an incompetent manager. Give a CSN tasks within his skillset, realistic and well-defined goals, monitor is workload and grow him into your right-hand-man. Empty-promisers and scatter-brains can only exist in an unmanaged environment where there is no control or accountability. While the ability to generalize can be a useful skill in a primitive culture, if not tempered it can be dangerous and destructive in a complex society or organization.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Feels the need to tell everybody in the world the intricate details of work events without regard to what they are actually saying or if written, who may read it.

melanieellsworth
melanieellsworth

What about the "Chatty Carl or Cathy"...constantly talking to co-workers about themselves, their kids, their house, anything they can to 1) brag, or 2) get out of working.

Traupman
Traupman

Check out the book "How to Deal with People You Can't Stand". It does a great job at describing how to bring the best in people at their worst.

owens3
owens3

I don't complain, I just speak out against stupid ideas.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

The Prostitute,The President of the E-Mail Department,The Software Writing Team from India.

StaticFish
StaticFish

The "Toni Bower or Whiner " has nothing better to do with her time except pigeon hole people into groups on blogs. Take a lesson from your cousin Jack Bower. Don't whine on a blog, get some stones and tell them straight to their face. . God I'm such a idiot for reading this trash...

sidekick
sidekick

This type will act quickly without thinking it through or consulting more knowledgable folks. Like unplugging a network cable because it looks like a security risk rather than asking the person who most likely plugged it in to begin with, causing that person to not be able to finish the necessary prep work for the server migration. Theoretically speaking, of course ;)

basstrumpeter
basstrumpeter

At the risk of being labeled by the ignorant (see previous posts) I would like to say that first, I agree with the Bebedo about the lack of solutions making this blog irrelevant and add that the inability to distinguish between 6 and 8 entries tends to invalidate the content.

danpat1_2000
danpat1_2000

I agree--look at all the discussion that was stimulated by the writer. Relax - Go and see the Lowe Family and enjoy yourself.

lexys
lexys

Personally, God didn't make me with in-built difficult people coping skills, I have always believed you treat others as you would like to be treated. This doesn't work with difficult co-workers, so I ended up seeing a psychologist, not only to learn anger management but to learn how to deal with these various ****holes. There is also a lot of good self-help books out there too. Mainly what I learned from the psychologist was to be assertive, remain in control, keep my emotional reactions out of the situation, and if I felt angry, or the difficult behaviour continued, to walk away. What I also found (I am a youth worker on weekends also) is that I viewed the difficult co-workers as children so I could deal with them so much better as I have endless patience for children. Also, my cool, calm, authorative demeanor would throw these people right off balance and they wouldn't know what to do next. I would also pull out a little notebook in front of them and pretend that I was taking notes of the conversation - this stopped the dispatch guy right in his tracks when he was standing over me and abusing me for not helping him. Of course, I would also document any serious incidents when I got home just in case I would need it to back myself up in the future. As for snipers - just tell them straight out you don't like those sorts of jokes about whatever it is they are "joking" about. I also try more positive ways of getting proper feedback from these people - sometimes they just don't know how else to address a problem with other people. I hope this is helpful to someone out there, the main thing to remember is, if what you're doing now doesn't work, try something else, and keep trying.

lexys
lexys

our whiner was in our boss's office in tears complaining about our supervisor on a couple of occasions..... the boss announces to us she has been "promoted" to a job in another department. There was an even bigger whiner on the team who is still there to this day... the rest of us either left or were made redundant.

toni.bowers_b
toni.bowers_b

And you're right, it was just food for thought. It wasn't intended as an instructional manual.

santeewelding
santeewelding

At the moment, a near-unconditional "Yes". Humanity, and practical, at that.

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

Well thought out , and actual answer to continue the discussion. With I might add, reason why and solutions to pair them together to get results! Excellent! Bump to you

Bizzo
Bizzo

I love it when people join TR just to flame a writer, and then say they've wasted their time reading an article. And yes I agree, you are an idiot, but not for that reason!

ls1313
ls1313

The worst part of this type - they frequently find their way into management!! Even worse - there is no real way to deal with this person unless you want to resort to slipping sedatives in their coffee. Just take very deep breaths, think "ommmm" and try not to catch the panic!

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

I like light duty blogs every once in awhile. Much better than those that pretend to throw around solutions that don't work in real life. There's no way to succinctly explain how to handle what amounts to office politics. Would this blog have been better if it threw around every industry buzzword or just tell it like it is? You will encounter these types of people. Perhaps you're supposed to be adult enough to know how to handle them. A capacity for humor goes a long way.

stan
stan

So suggest a solution or two!

Bizzo
Bizzo

Why resort to name calling? It's a blog, a discussion. Toni ends it with "Got any to add?", and that's the start of the discussion ... It's not a "if you work with this kind of person, this is how you can make things better" article. Maybe we can add another person type: "Feetfirsters". People who briefly scan articles and posts and then leap in feet first into a tirade of abuse! Ok a little over the top there, but you get my drift. ;-)

IC-IT
IC-IT

You might have noticed this comment; "Here are some that I?d like to add to Mr. McClintock?s" She credits McClintock and added two more. ;-)

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

I know that all of the people I'm thinking about have lost their jobs at some point after stabbing me in the back. Guess it didn't help them too much. Life still got to them. Maybe it's Karma? :D

Amnezia
Amnezia

Isn't it sad that you thank someone for making a point that seemed obvious right at the beginning? Some people don't want to do ANY work, they want others to spell everything out for them. I read your article under the heading "informative" and "entertaining". The way it was written suggested that. Clearly some thought it had great importance, and therefore felt lacking when they couldn't determine their reason for reading it. There's heaps of info floating around the Internet that's of no "lasting value", (sorry Toni), but rather has an immediate response upon the reader, who then moves onto something else. Not everything we write, or read, must have an instructional function. What a boring world it would be were that to be so. Consider the writings of Dickens. What's the point nowadays? There isn't any - the specifics were directed at a social structure that is different today, so now we just have "informative" and "entertaining". Shhhheeessshhhh!!!!!!!!!! C'mon people, do your own thinking for a change.

sidekick
sidekick

Let's just say this theoretical person IS theoretically management. Hmm, some special Half and Half. Why didn't I think of that sooner. :)

dwyckoff
dwyckoff

I have to say, you guys are hysterical. Meaning funny of coarse.

sunrise.seaport
sunrise.seaport

This is the middle management guy who lies to his superiors about the work progress of lower-ranked employees in other departments. He knows that upper management has no contact with these lower employees so he can say whatever he wants. He circumvents the normal, public communication channels, like emails with CC to everyone involved. The treasoner therefore makes his own department appear to have all its work in order while the other departments get reprimanded by the clueless upper management.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

I've got a little unfinished business to take care of.

Amnezia
Amnezia

Yes, quite correct. Sadly, and possibly improperly, my heart was full of something else at the time. LOL

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

The guy is still widely read because he's still widely relevant. He gets to heart. While social structure may appear to change, heart remains a cornerstone of it. etu

santeewelding
santeewelding

Trying to fit hysteresis in, until you hit with, of coarse. Now I don't know what to do.

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