*This post was written by Marcy Massura 3 years ago, and originally was published in it’s entirely on Smartly.com, republished with permission to Marcywrites.com
We all enter the work field with generalized expectations of our new coworkers; the grumpy boss, the sexy secretary, the lazy millennial, the older technology challenged team member etc. All clichés crafted by watching too many skit comedies and bad sitcoms. But how much of that is true? Having worked in numerous diverse work environments as first a product designer for the apparel industry, then business analyst in banking, a process consultant and now in the public relations industry I have experienced many office personalities through out the years. And yes, some personalities challenge those cliche’s completely, and others seem more like movie of the week characters than real people.
What I have also learned is that there are three distinct groups; the SuperHeros (the ones who are responsible for 90% of the business success), the ShowUps (they are there, they do what is asked but never more. And never less. They simply are fine just being…fine) and then the antithesis to business success, The Office Villains.
Sadly while there are far fewer Office Villains than any other group they do the biggest damage to the progress and success of your business. Office Villains are often the reason a department, office or region struggles with retention or team morale. Working closely with an Office Villain can be exhausting, and eventually direct reports and co-workers will simply give up and decide to take their talents elsewhere.
Most Office Villains, are not deliberately trying to ruin the business. Most are not aware of how adversely their chronic behavior is affecting everyone around them. And of the top three, their behavior is often a result of lacking the skills to perform at the level expected of them. So they create swirl and chaos to hide their lack of ability. Here is a look at three of the most common Office Villains that I have experienced. Do any of these sound familiar?
The Bottlenecker is late to meetings, late to calls and generally doesn’t read emails in a timely manner if at all. They are the ones to claim they never received an email, when in reality it has been sent 2 or 3 times requesting a response.They never really apologize for any of this, rather they use phrases like ‘dropped the ball’ or let something ‘slip through the cracks’. Frequently the Bottlenecker brings their personal life into business conversations to try and justify how ‘busy’ they are, and yet they are not actually any busier than their co-workers all of whom seem to be managing fine. Bottleneckers hold up the progress of the business because they lack the skills to prioritize and organize their time. They are unreliable and provide inconsistent quality in deliverables and communication. In essence Bottleneckers are killing your business, blocking progress with their ego.
The Complicator likes big words, and lots of them. Their emails are three times longer than necessary, when asked a question in a meeting they take 5 times longer than needed. The Complicator questions everyone and everything. Their favorite phrase is ‘let’s take a step back here’ so they can establish control and force others to justify decisions already made. The Complicator makes everything harder than it needs to be…and that is how they like it. They erroneously think they are being ‘thorough’ and being sure to ‘look at things from all sides’. If asked, a Complicator would likely say their ‘analytical skills’ are better than average. And yet, the result of a chronic Complicator is frustrated teams wasting time to deal with this persons ridiculous asks. Co-workers expend 900% more energy to appease the Complicator and the project / decision / result lands right where it was before the Complicator got involved. Most Complicators, are clueless to their negative effect on the business, but they feel they have justified their role despite doing nothing more than creating ‘busy work’ for teams- and never actually contributing to the progress of the business. Complicators might not be as intelligent as they want to be perceived, and because they lack real skills to contribute- they mask their deficit by being verbose, ambiguous and challenging.
The FingerPointer has never accepted fault for anything. From being late to work ("There was so much traffic"), to being late for a meeting ("This conference room is so hard to find!") The FingerPointer has excuses that circumvent the need for them to have forethought or planning skills. Where other co-workers are conscientious and focused on hitting deadlines and requirements, The FingerPointer is careless and carefree. They do not carry stress as their co-workers do, because should they fall short on a responsibility they know they can fall back on their library of excuses. These villains, are the first to run to a supervisor or human resources to blame someone for their failures. FingerPointers tend to also be adapt at spreading gossip and making others look bad, as a way to protect their lack luster commitment to the job.
The scariest thing about these Office Villains is that it is nearly impossible to identify them when hiring. Their ‘habits’ only show themselves as they begin to integrate into the business. But once you identify them, take action. Office Villains generally only get worse over time, and rarely if ever course correct on their own if at all.
All content and thoughts are my own, and not a reflection of my employer. For contact information and more about me visit MarcyMassura.com. Much thanks to Smartly.com for republishing rights.