The employee who knows it all. The manager who steals your great ideas. The guy who leaves a mess everywhere. They’re some of the worst co-workers.
And as a manager, you have to handle them – all the while, without losing your cool.
They may not be toxic but they’re disruptive. It’s often so bad you want to avoid them and their annoying behavior. And, as a leader, if you find them difficult, you likely get complaints about the worst co-workers from employees and colleagues.
In fact, 80% of employees say they have at least one colleague they’d describe as “terrible,” a ResumeLab survey found.
Unfortunately, you and your employees can’t “just suck it up” when it comes to disruptive co-workers. Terrible workplace behaviors have consequences. More than 80% of employees say their co-workers’ behaviors affect their work – and 70% say it’s so bad they’d consider quitting.
Here are the eight worst co-workers, and tips on how to handle them.
Gossip is rarely positive. And that’s probably why most employees in the ResumeLab study said it’s the worst trait co-workers can have.
Gossiping Gary and others like him hurt morale, upset colleagues and distract nearly everyone from what’s important. And unfortunately, Garys often have listeners who spread his gossip, so he causes widespread damage.
Tip: Obviously, the best solution is to avoid gossip. But that won’t make it go away. Try to counteract it with positive gossip. When you hear something negative, say something positive about the person or situation. Spread good news quietly, making it a secret that others want in on.
Lying Linda tells false stories for many reasons – to hide errors, compensate for weaknesses, bring down others, get ahead …. That’s what makes her the second worst co-worker.
Fortunately, nearly 80% of employees are willing to call out colleagues for their poor or unprofessional behavior. And Lying Linda could be the one who needs to be called out most.
Tip: Call her out. The more she gets away with lies, the more she’ll do it, and eventually, no one will know the truth. The more she’s called out, the less she’ll do it.
She’s. The. Worst.
She finds a fault in everything – from policies and practices to people and places. Negative Nellie is the first one to point out what could go wrong. And if something does go wrong, she’s quick to say, “Told you so.”
Her attitude can bring down people, and the effect can be the worst on new employees who don’t recognize her for what she is.
Tip: As much as possible, allow negative employees to work alone. Oftentimes, they prefer the autonomy, too. While you don’t want to isolate anyone in the workplace, give them fewer opportunities to work in groups where they might poison the well.
Too-Much-Information Tammy shares way more than anyone wants to know and asks too many questions of colleagues. But mostly she likes to tell colleagues things that you don’t want to hear – about medical conditions, love life, family drama and beyond.
Tip: Steer Tammy and other TMIers back to professional, work-related conversations when she gets off track. For instance, “Tammy, while I’d like to catch up on that, we need to finish this report for the client. Can you give me the data points now?”
This one complains about everything. To everyone. He might dislike you and tells the team. He might hate the work and tells your boss.
Complaining Charlie definitely doesn’t like the changes – and tells everyone that, which will get in the way of progress. He always finds something to complain about at work.
But one of the most dangerous things about Complaining Charlie is that he can cause you to stop listening and assume he’s crying wolf.
Tip: To avoid turning your back on a real complaint, ask Complaining Charlie to offer two solutions for every complaint he brings.
Arrogant Abby thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips. She’s often a top performer (and she knows it). So her arrogance makes it more difficult to acknowledge accomplishments because you don’t want to set her off.
Problem with Arrogant Abby is she’s often not a team player and turns off co-workers. She prefers solo wins and enjoys telling everyone about her successes.
Tip: Fixing this can be a fine line when you handle an arrogant employee. On one hand, you don’t want to temper her confidence. On the other, you don’t want to feed her ego. So, try to strike a balance: Congratulate, reward accordingly, encourage more wins and move on.
Bully Burt hasn’t changed much since high school. In the workplace, he still belittles others, demands too much and uses passive aggressiveness to get what he wants. What’s worse, he often does this outside of the eyes and ears of the boss, and he might make his victims feel like it’s their fault he’s being a bully.
Any bully poses several threats to a workplace – from morale to lawsuits.
Tip: You can never ignore bullying behavior. Whether you witness it or it’s reported, open an investigation immediately to be sure it’s not harassment – and if it is, follow your organization’s harassment protocols.
At the bottom of ResumeLab’s list of the worst co-workers is Unclean Gene. Employees have issues with colleagues who lack personal hygiene.
It’s the most sensitive of subjects in work and life. But, almost every manager faces a time when they have to bring up smell, appearance or rude personal habits with an employee.
Tip: Here are our best tips ever to have those conversations.