Friday, December 12, 2008

Workplace Traditions

People say that it doesn’t matter where you work; the people you work with are the same. This doesn’t mean that there are a million clones of the same people all over the world. It means that there are certain types of people that you can locate at all jobs, all over this wonderful Earth of ours.

Here are some of the types that I’ve identified:
1) The Kiss A$$ – oh we all know this person much too well. This is the person who agrees with everything the big boss says even if it’s the stupidest, most illogical thing to ever be spoken. This person has no backbone to stand up to the boss. And this person is almost always on every list for a promotion. Inevitably, they always get the promotions leaving the rest of the department scratching their heads with confusion. This person is usually incredibly dumb but politically office savvy. Most likely, they went to Business School.

2) The Workaholic – the person who never gets up from their desk to go to the bathroom. Who is in the office before everyone else and who is there until the rooster crows the next morning. This person then goes out to get a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks and returns to work another 48 hour day. Everyone knows this person has no life and that’s why they are there all the time. These people also tend to be in a high position and think that everyone under them should conform to the same insane work schedule they are on. However, there isn’t enough Starbucks coffee in the whole world to justify this kind of work schedule for any one. The workaholic usually isn’t as efficient or productive as they like to think they are. Everyone, but the workaholic, knows this.

3) The Work Garbage Dump – this person is not a workaholic but does all the work for the whole department and never gets any credit for their efficiency. If these people didn’t exist in the workplace, absolutely no work would get done at all. This person never gets promoted and this person always gets treated poorly by senior management because they think abusing the worker will make them stay there longer. (Yes, I don’t understand the psychology behind this either.) This person mainly has a strong work ethic and is living from paycheck to paycheck. This person is also secretly always on the phone with recruiters scooping out other offerings. When this person leaves the company, all mistakes are later blamed on them.

4) The Positive Spinner – this person knows deep inside that workplace politics are a pain in the tukhis but they spin everything in a positive light. When more work comes your way, they say ‘This is your chance to develop your skills and put it on your resume’. This person also claims that the boss’ picking on you is ‘A way of making you stronger as a person.’ Most of the time this person thinks they are sincere but to everyone else they come off as a complete phony.

Actually, I have some theories of how these individuals came to be. Work types 1, 2 and 4 are products of the work world. They are not born this way but are created. People can see the inherent glimpses of these types as early as pre-school but were they born that way? I think not, but I suppose it’s debatable. Work type #1 is usually the teacher’s pet in school. No matter what they do, they get away with murder. However, in the school world the teacher’s pet can either be the very smart kid who has all the answers or the wise ass, who provides the teacher with a much-needed laugh. However, in the business world, the latter is the one that manifests itself. As soon as this type is identified, it is best to stay far away from them. Any chance they get, they will stab anyone in the back in order to be seen in the bright shining broadway vision of the big boss.

Work type #2 is the kid who never wanted to go home from school. They were trying to avoid something going on at home, arguing parents, lack of attention etc. This person is still trying to hide something in their adulthood. Usually they are hiding the fact that their relationship with a significant other is on the rocks. Or they are hiding the fact that they are terribly annoying people that no sane person in the world would want to be near. So, they obtain gratification by working a lot in hopes that this will seem ambitious in the eyes of higher ups.

Work type #4 is a crafty character in some ways. These are the kids in school who can blend in with any clique and crowd - the chameleons. As they’ve grown up, they have used this facile shift of appearance and personality to their advantage. These are the epitome of spies. They bring information from one camp to another and in doing so have learned the ways to manipulate this information to their own advantage. Mainly I say tread with caution around these types as well. However, if you can surmise this type early on, you can use it to your advantage by gaining information, except that you don’t squeal the information between groups.
As I mentioned earlier, work type #3 is perhaps born that way. They are the kids who do thing by the book, follow rules (despite secretly hating them and all authority impositions) and they get things done. Sometimes they do this because they like to make people happy, sometimes it’s to get into the good graces of others. Sometimes they are just a degree or two lower on the workaholic scale than type #2. Who knows exactly how these are formed or how any of them develop? It’s just interesting to see that these basic types are present in most work environments. There are, of course, the other types such as the ‘do nothings’, ‘the constant complainers’ and ‘the can’t fire thems’ but I think these characters tend to fall into work type #4.

Now that you can recognize and identify some of these characters at your current workplace, or even in your old workplace, have fun trying to concoct how you think they became that way. The big question is of course, why do these people even exist at every work place? I’ve mentioned my ideas but I welcome any suggestions you might have to explain this naturally occurring phenomenon.

1 comment:

M said...

I recognize all these work types only too well, though they don't seem to be as prevalent in my current office as they were in my former job. I'm grateful for that.

I think you should study psychology Angie, put some academic theory behind your observations.