Last summer as part of its “Office Politics Playbook,” BNET ran a feature called “Office Politicos: A Field Guide,” which included creatures such as “The Snake,” “The Art Chick/Band Guy,” “The Sidekick,” “The Class President,” etc. I remember finding them entertaining, but maybe a tad simplistic. The types I find most, uh, interesting to work with are those whose personalities possess a perplexing combination of dichotomous characteristics. For example:
The Disinterested Egomaniac
Definition: Although she attends most brainstorming meetings and conference calls begrudgingly and participates in the former with a look of boredom and the latter on mute, once this cube dweller perceives any sort of ownership over a project, she falls deeply in love with her own work and is unreasonably offended by any criticism, constructive or otherwise. Although she pokes fun at others who act like minor issues are matters of life and death, a last-minute m-dash deletion can send her on an angry emoticon rampage and perhaps a two-hour mental health/coffee break.
Traits: Petulant, Arrogant, Insecure
Habitat: A limbo between cruising WritersMarket.com at the office and getting up in the middle of the night to finish work projects remotely.
The Overworked Helping Hand
Definition: Despite constantly complaining about all the work he has to do, this office personality cannot resist a cry for help. He feels personally responsible for fixing everyone’s problems but his own. Although he refuses offers to take things off of his plate while he’s yapping about his ever-rising blood pressure, he won’t let the slightest gripe go by without dropping what he’s doing to find solutions to co-workers’ issues—which often means piling their unfinished tasks onto his own wobbling tower.
Traits: Happy-Go-Lucky, Frantic, Obsessive Compulsive
Habitat: On the phone, helping someone retrieve a deleted file (even though there’s nothing in the neighborhood of “tech support” in his job description), while simultaneously IMing another co-worker about how annoyed and stressed out he is.
The Lazy Control Freak
Definition: Although this corporate character prefers to remain MIA during the planning and beginning stages of a project, she insists on jumping in at the very end to either put her stamp on it with extremely minor and largely meaningless input, or discount hours/days/weeks of others’ work by insisting on a change of direction at the last minute. She has a special talent for taking credit for the project’s completion while blaming any missed deadlines on the incompetence of others.
Characteristics: Sluggish, Ambitious, Curt
Habitat: Difficult to locate but will suddenly appear at the top e-mail strings, usually directly above a phrase like, “Good to go!” Her message will say something to the effect of, “Looks good, but…” and end with, “Thanks.” Period.
Oh the strange and capricious creatures that roam the cubicle maze… Guess which one I am…