The 5 Types of Scary Co-Workers
October 30, 2017

The 5 Types of Scary Co-Workers

by Brian de Haaff

Do you like spooky stories? I have one about an office worker named George. George liked his job and helping his team succeed. But he always felt like someone was creeping in the background. This person slowed down projects, gobbled up all the credit, and whispered malicious tales.

Watch out, George! The call is coming from inside the office! Too late — the shadowy ghoul had already wrecked havoc on George’s work life.

Okay, maybe this story is not exactly spine-shivering. But I bet you have experienced your own scary co-workers. Heck, maybe you are working beside one right now.

Scary co-workers are all too real. And if you are not careful, you might find yourself in the zombie zone.

But if you are like me, you are fortunate enough to work with a team that is quite the opposite of scary. (I hope so for your sake.) However, if you do have a scary co-worker, you know that working with these folks requires extra vigilance — they are masters of trickery, well adept at undermining the team.

So, beware. Here are the types of co-workers to watch out for:

The ghoul This person thrives on bad news. You will always find the ghoul moaning about something — the team, leadership, and (most often) the work itself. You try to brush off the negative energy, but the ghoul is persistent in luring you back to the shadows. This teammate is not satisfied until everyone has joined them in the underworld.

The mad scientist Gadzooks! This co-worker has gone rogue. The mad scientist has lots of wild ideas but no data to back them up. Strategy? What strategy? This co-worker’s motto is, “Let’s throw things against the wall and see what sticks!” The main interest here is coming up with the next “big idea.” But when it comes to doing the actual work, the mad scientist is always mysteriously missing.

The mummy Alive? Barely. The silent mummy is bored with the work — so bored that you could have sworn you saw them nodding off at their desk once or twice. You start to wonder why this person even works here anymore. The mummy stays quiet for their eternal working life, with no effort to be a part of the team or make a meaningful contribution.

The troll This is the teammate who is lurking in the shadows, stirring up office trouble. Whenever you hear whispers about potential layoffs or sniping leadership, you can bet that the troll is behind it. There is a reason this teammate works underground — it is the best place to collect gossip. Even the most innocent tidbits can turn into menacing tales once the troll gets involved.

The goblin This co-worker takes, takes, takes… and takes some more. The goblin wants domain over everything it deems gold — high-profile projects, the leadership’s time, and especially the credit when things go well. What makes all this worse is that the goblin can be a real bully. There is no interest in collaborating or showing team spirit. Why bother? That only means less sparkling credit for them.

The greatest defense against a scary co-worker is organizational transparency. After all, monsters are a lot less spooky when you shine a light on them.

Do not let any ghouls and goblins scare you away. Instead, focus on your own work — sharpen your skills and find positive ways to contribute to the team.

And do your best to extend kindness to everyone. (Even the ones lurking in the shadows.)

What is your scariest co-worker tale?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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