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4 Types of Problem Workers

Posted by Eric Friedman

types of problem workers

You’ve heard the idea before: “Today’s workers just don’t know how good they’ve got it.” This sentiment has been felt by most generations on one level or another. However, it’s difficult to know if today’s workers are truly less productive and more demanding. And because the workplace changes so rapidly these days, it’s hard to make a fair comparison.

One thing that seems to remain constant, however, is that most work places have a mix of solid, productive, and reliable employees alongside those who – for lack of a kinder term – could use a few lessons in a good old-fashioned work ethic.

The Bad Communicator

From workers who refuse to communicate until the situation is beyond urgent to those who gush ten-page emails multiple times a day, the workforce is filled with people who just may not understand how and when to communicate. Successful communication requires the sender and receiver to understand the message being sent.

Bad timing, self-centered rambling, and constantly interjecting when someone else is speaking can make the office seem like a living hell. Communication skills can be taught, however. Here are a few concepts that are essential.

  • Keep all communication concise.
  • Focus on solving problems.
  • Speak the truth; don’t tell people only what you think they want to hear.

The Contract Negotiator

Some office workers are worse than a teamster on a Hollywood movie set. Whatever you ask them to do, the task never seems to fall within their job description. These people are also likely to appeal to rules to avoid work they find distasteful or when they simply don’t want to be responsible.

While defining specific roles and delegations are essential to a healthy workflow and reduced drama, workers should learn to be flexible. Running a business is a group effort. Typically, supervisors are already doing many things that are outside their job descriptions, and don’t have time to micromanage these additional details. Build a system that rewards initiative through the following steps.

  • Encourage workers to learn new roles.
  • Pay them to think and to innovate.
  • Emphasize completing a task or project over adhering to rigid job descriptions.

The Non-Professional

Some workers seem to think that unprofessional behavior is the new black. If there’s an unspoken rule, they are the first to break it. They tend to be unreliable and don’t seem to understand the importance of personal credibility as an essential prerequisite for moving ahead in corporate culture.

Now more than ever, your personal brand is much more than just a resume. From appropriate dress, to learning office etiquette, to learning to speak and to act as best fits the occasion, managers are looking for people they can rely on to carry the company name. Here are some ways to counteract unprofessional behavior.

  • Build a strong corporate culture.
  • Use positive peer-reinforcement.
  • Make credibility a celebrated value.

The Non-Joiner

Some people seem to do everything they can to avoid becoming integrated into any more of your company than necessary to keep their jobs. These workers tend to express themselves negatively and often set people at odds with each other. They relish in drama and see themselves as mavericks or lone wolves.

If team players are what build a strong company, non-joiners can become one of the biggest threats to that team. The leaders of any organization prize a firm foundation and should recognize employee efforts to build a solid team. If this recognition means little to someone who wants to be on the outside, encourage them to become more integrated through the following steps.

Problem workers will take as much time and energy as you are willing to give them. You can minimize their impact, however, by heading them off before they become a problem with an inclusive and nurturing culture. This will give workers the tools to be the best they can be.

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About Eric Friedman

Author

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.

3 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Erika S August, 20, 2015

    Another type of problem employee that really puts me off is the one who always calls in sick. We all need a day off once in a while for health or family issues, but isn’t it suspicious if such days always coincide with the busiest work days or Mondays?

  • Lynda Roberts August, 24, 2015

    For me, bad communicators are the worst. They not only keep themselves from working by composing a hundred emails with task specifications, they also ruin your day and make sticking to a schedule impossible because you can’t concentrate on a single task!

  • Mika P. August, 26, 2015

    Personally, I hate the type of people who are two-faced and pretend to be real team players and people persons, but at the end of the day go to their office and complain about their coworkers and talk about them being late or stealing pencils. They not only don’t do much help, they ruin morale and trust.

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Guest August, 26, 2015