1. The Talker
This is the person who doesn’t realise that the only acceptable replies to “How’s it going?” are one or two words long. What makes them such a bad colleague is the sheer volume of your time they will waste with their banal, self-centred anecdotes and monologues. Worse still is the Talker’s downbeat twin, the Moaner, who is all of the above, only with added self-pity and negativity.
Coping Strategies: Always have something pressing that you need to get on with. Set up a system with colleagues, whereby, if The Talker has cornered you, one of them will call you on your mobile.
2. The Micromanager
One of the worst bosses going. Their control freakery means they’ll endlessly interfere with every task they set you and drive you nuts. They’re demotivating, they waste your time and they can ruin your relationships with those below to you as they may micromanage more than one level down.
Coping Strategies: Deluge them with information and over-report on everything. Help them to worry less as they are often very insecure. Try and differentiate between the things that really annoy you and trivial stuff you can live with – and then confront them about the former.
3. The Over-Committed Colleague
Although, in theory, there’s mothing wrong with people who consistently give 110pc, they’re a God-awful pain to work with as their always going the extra mile will only draw attention to the fact that you don’t. Worse still is that this will often make you look bad and create extra work for you, even if their excessive diligence accomplishes nothing whatsoever.
Coping Strategies: Try to ensure that you never work on exactly the same tasks as them – and so avoid direct comparisons. Convince your boss to measure people on output and results rather than input and hours worked. Spread the gospel of “good enough.”
4. The Person on Their Way Out
Here, we’re assuming that the soon to be “exited” individual is not a star who’s been head-hunted, but an also-ran who’s being nudged towards the door. Unfortunately, you need to be a bit Machiavellian in this situation because: even if you like them, you don’t want to associated too closely with damaged goods. This is can be very uncomfortable if they think they still have a chance – and you know they don’t.
Coping Strategies: A tough one. All you can really do is behave with some decency while ensuring that you put your own interests first.
5. The Cool Guy (or Girl)
They’re the fun person who breaks all the rules and is a really bad influence on you. They drink four pints at lunch, talk back to senior managers and show up late. They just don’t care and can often seem like the office equivalent of the maverick hero in an 80s high school movie. And yet, for all this, their career doesn’t seem to suffer.
Coping Strategies: Face facts. Perhaps they are so good they can goof off all day and still shine. Perhaps they are so charismatic that people give them a by. Or perhaps they are so insouciant that somehow they have made not caring into a desirable skill. None of these will work for you. So be their friend, but keep some distance, because you do not have their “Get Our of Jail Free” card.
6. The Beneficiary of Nepotism
Yes, we all know that, were it not for his daddy, Jamie would be asking you, “Would you like fries with that?” rather than, “Could you get that report to me tomorrow?”
But equally we know that Jamie’s connections, if not his talent, will ensure that he rises far while more talented colleagues fall by the wayside – and we know there’s nothing we can really do about that.
Coping Strategies: Tell yourself that luck comes in many different forms and that yours is being more competent than Jamie. Tell yourself that Jamie may be beset by anxiety that comes from knowing why he has been promoted. Tell yourself that cream is not the only thing that floats to the top and that, if he is useless, he may be found out. Try not to think too much about George W Bush.
7. The Office Gossip
Like the Cool Guy, the Office Gossip is a lot of fun to be around. We all love to bitch about colleagues and finding someone who treats it as a second job can be a real laugh. However, they are also likely to have a big mouth and, if they’re badmouthing Bob to you, they’ll probably be badmouthing you to Bob. Moreover, if you become too close to them, you too will be tarred with the bitchy brush – and this can be quite undermining.
Coping Strategies: Again, you should be on good terms with them, but not too good. Use them if you want “secrets” broadcast and feed them interesting, but unimportant, titbits. Never tell them anything you actually want kept secret – or anything you can’t plausibly deny came from you.
8. The Fast Tracker
This is the colleague who, through a combination of skill, luck and ambition, is rising through the ranks far faster than you. Their focus can make them quite dismissive and, because they see themselves as future leaders, they will often talk down to peers. Their ambition can make for a very brutal “all’s fair in love and war” approach.
Coping Strategies: Avoid standing in their way if at all possible. Make sure they know what your talents and skills are – as they are more likely to value you if they know you can be useful. They are likely to be good future contacts, so be be friendly to them, while remembering that they are not your friends.
9. The Brown Noser
There are few things more cringeworthy than watching a colleague suck up to those above, especially when the boss responds positively. Worse still, chances are the brown-noser will be so fixated on toadying that he’ll treat you with indifference and neglect the work he’s meant to be doing with you.
Coping Strategies: Don’t sweat it. First, the boss is responding well because everyone loves a compliment, but love is not the same as respect. Second, remember that a reputation for ass-kissery is not a good one to have. Finally, recognise that some apparent brown nosers are actually just very charming people. Perhaps you can learn a thing or to from them.
10. The person who does work-like activities
Dave goes to every single meeting. He lunches all the time, has thousands of LinkedIn contacts, sits on a dozen committees and is hyperactive on social media. He knows everyone. And yet, he never seems to do anything that’s written in his job description. Somehow, he appears to have been seconded to another company whose only product is brand Dave. This is very frustrating for the rest of the group who have to pick up the slack.
Coping Strategies: The best thing you can do is get your boss to ensure that everyone in the team has “deliverables” they are scored against. However, it’s worth remembering too that the Daves of the this world are usually not all bad – and that sometimes the stuff they do has real value. Besides, if he’s really that good at networking, he won’t be your colleague or problem for long.
* Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015