How To Spot the 6 Types of Office Troublemakers – Part I of II

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.

The office troublemaker is like a stapler, every business environment has them. I affectionately call him or her the “work jerk.” The troublemaker has a unique calling. They are intent on causing drama, problems (which they see themselves as the solution to), and disruption to the team’s dynamic.

Troublemakers interfere with and are a drain on a company’s resources. They deplete their own and others’ efficiency and impact. Think of it this way, if a troublemaker’s actions causes a ten member team to work only at 95% efficiency, then you will be losing the equivalent of half a person’s productivity per week. Looks different when these behaviors have a number attached to it, doesn’t it?

It’s important to recognize when you are in the presence of the office troublemaker and how to handle yourself accordingly in order to come out on top.

1. The Plotter. This is the person who tries to enlist others in their unethical plans to disturb the office. Even thought they feel better when they have accomplices the real reason is so when they get ‘caught’ they have someone else to blame. It’s also more fun for them to think of themselves as being part of a ‘covert’ team of troublemakers.

2. The Tease. This is the person who seeks out the person with power or authority and proceeds to flirt with them. All with the intention of gaining favor. Just remember if they ‘tease’ you there may be a not-so-hidden agenda.

3. The Gossip. This person tried to gain information that they otherwise wouldn’t be privy to, by offering information up first. Usually the information is on the sensitive side, thereby enticing you to listen because humans love a juicy story. Never give this person anything personal about you. You may find yourself to be the next victim of their gossip. Because to them, everyone is fair game.

4. The Escape Artist. This is the person who is nowhere to be found when something goes wrong. And when you do find her she is all too ready to pass the blame onto someone else – usually the nearest person. The worst escape artist, though, is the person who places blame on someone who is not present to defend themselves. Of course, this is intentional.

5. The Know-It-All. This person is probably the most difficult to tolerate. They think they know how to not only do their job but everyone else’s. They see themselves as knowing what’s best for the company, even more than the CEO. The Know-It-All usually fails to follow through on promises or directives. Because they are more talk than walk.
These are only a few of the many types of office trouble makers. Many more are in disguise. So keep your eyes and ears open to spot them. Remember, it’s important to maintain professional work behavior in the office-place and take the high road. Never stoop to the trouble-maker’s level.

It’s also a good idea to keep boundaries with these people … work is work and friendship is friendship, and the two shall never twine … at least with these folks. Because human nature is more than skin deep, it goes down to someone’s core. And chances are if there’s trouble in the office, there will be trouble out of the office as well.

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