Toxic colleagues are the worst. Not only is their behaviour detrimental to your work (and your team’s!) but they thrive on their shortcomings and somehow still seem to get ahead.
When these relationships go sour, workplace performance struggles, morale drops, and work just become an awful place to be, which isn’t great for anyone.
But while you can’t choose your colleagues, you can choose how you deal with them. Here is a bit of guidance on the type of toxic coworkers to avoid, and how to deal with their poisonous ways.
1. The Time SuckerThis is the colleague who basically doesn’t give a you-know-what about anyone else’s time. Schedules are only important if we’re talking about their own, and they simply don’t care about when or when they bother you if they need something from you right now. They’re also the kind of colleague who pesters you for a meeting when you’re on a deadline and then shows up 30 minutes late.
If you’re keen on sticking to deadlines and working smart, stay away from the time suckers. Make it so that he - like everyone else - has to book in time with you if they need your assistance with something. If they are late, too bad - you’ve got other things to do. They’ll get the message soon enough.
2. The Negative Nancy (or Norman)This guy, or girl, thrives on drama, negativity, gossip and complaining. They are most motivated in a crisis and are the first people on the scene if something dramatic or tragic happens to a colleague (whether they knew them well or not). They also love to moan and whine about work. Everything is always bad, and the fault is never their own.
Negative Nancy’s are toxic - stay well away, or risk getting sucked into their bubble of hate and drama. If they start to gossip with you, or try to pull you into their toxic conversations, politely excuse yourself and mind your own business. No one gets ahead by acting this way, so don’t fall for it.
3. The EgomaniacThey talk about themselves a lot, but they also do a whole heap of fence-sitting to avoid making any important decisions. The Egomaniacs think they rule the world, but they struggle to actually do anything that results in a successful outcome. However, it doesn’t stop them from trying to take the credit for it! He’s charismatic, for the most part, and generally likeable, if a bit arrogant. His main goal is to appear involved, friendly and important, while maintaining a certain level of deniability.
Dealing with Egomaniacs is hard, because they simply think they rock. You can force them to make decisions though, which snaps them out of their comfort zone. Whatever you do, you need a lot of patience...
4. The TaskmasterThis is the colleague who is fantastic at coming up with ideas and tasks for everyone else, but does very little of the work himself. He’s an ideas guy, but a terrible executor. He thrives in a team where everyone else can do the heavy lifting, and he simply sits back and reaps in the reward. He’s probably really good friends with the Egomaniac.
If you’re his manager, work around the taskmaster by assigning him specific tasks that he must complete himself, or else he lets down the team. There’s still a chance he’ll try and pawn it off to someone else, but once you’re aware of this behaviour, you can nip it in the bud. If you’re his colleague, it’s simple - don’t agree to do his work for him! Don’t help him - say you’re too busy - and encourage everyone else to do the same. Force him to earn his keep!
5. The BullyIt’s a classic, but the worst of the bunch. They are abusive and thrive on humiliating others to get what they want. They belittle others, talk down to them, make fun of their work or flat out name call, ridicule and finger point. Being on the receiving end of a bully is terrible - especially if it’s your boss.
Whatever you do, resist the urge to fight fire with fire, and just get on with your work. Hopefully he’ll lose interest, but if the behaviour escalates, try confronting him professionally and positively. State what’s bothering you and suggest he tone it back a notch. If it falls on deaf ears, then it might be time to engage your manager or someone else on the team to take things further.