Finance News & Insights

4 types you don’t want on your staff: How to handle ’em

These may be the toughest four types of people to have to work with. But if you’ve got ’em, here’s how to make it work.

How many of these folks do you recognize as you scan your department?


Type 1: Even Steven

You just can’t win with this person. He is always keeping score. You’d swear there was a spreadsheet on her PC where he’s keeping track of who’s getting which assignments or perks  — and who isn’t.

This can be especially tricky these days, when there can seem like there’s more work than people to go around. Even Steven’s always keeping an eye out to make sure no one’s getting better or bigger assignments.

Best way to handle: No doubt you work hard to create a fair workplace. Your best defuser of the Even Steven? Praise. By sincerely complimenting all members of your team, this person will be a little less likely to keep score.

Type 2: The Positioner

“Ulterior motive” is this person’s middle name. Every question asked or statement made seems like a positioning effort. That can make you second guess even the most innocent of behaviors. After all, you never know what this person is setting the stage for next!

Best way to handle: You have to take this person with a grain of salt for sure. At the same time, it can help to have an in-depth conversation with this staffer about his or her real career goals and aspirations. If you understand where they’re really trying to end up, you may better see what they’re trying so hard to jockey for all the time.

Type 3: The Know-It-All

A problem with a spreadsheet? Thomas knows how to handle it. Wondering why Marissa seems a little unmotivated lately? Thomas has the answer. Bet he even knows what’s wrong with the company coffee pot! This individual knows everything about everything.

Best way to handle: Thank Thomas for his input … and then ask another staffer for an opinion. The last thing you want is for other members of your team not to want to contribute because they think the Know-It-All has it all covered. Another good strategy: Use the word “we” when speaking to this person. That way the message is being sent that we’re working together — it’s not a competition to see who knows the most.

Type 4:  The Pot Stirrer

Here’s another tricky personality — especially at this time. Many folks are already nervous about everything from their job security to their retirement plans. Having a co-worker who likes to add fuel to the fire is the last thing any manager wants right now.

Best way to handle: Keep an ear out here. First of all, you want to squelch any gossip and rumors as soon as you get wind of them. You might even consider having periodic team meetings where everyone can put concerns out in the open. If the pot stirrer thinks there’s a chance he or she will be pointed out as the cause of the drama, that person may be less likely to stir up trouble.

Have we missed any? Share your votes for the most annoying personality type here.

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  • Dale

    Could the photo represent a combination of all three difficult co-workers or is that just “the slacker”?

  • Myron Crum

    The negative. This is a tricky one, since no matter what you say, they continually question and this stirs up other employees. The best way to handle this person is to be decisive since they are usually accepting.

  • You forgot to mention the back stabber and the liar. The one who is never wrong and lies to prove it and will hang anyone in their way to prove they are never wrong or mistaken.

  • Judy

    You just described 3 of my siblings. I really feel sorry for their co-workers.

  • Angie

    There is the ever so popular – Brown Noser. The one that goes so far to even change her personal shopping habits to reflect her superior. This co-worker is known to make employees want to vomit! Just smile on the outside and laugh on the inside when their “bright ideas” are mentioned.

  • Ann

    There is also the ever “unpopular” sarcastic employee. Everything he says “he thinks” it’s funny. However, the comments made are always at the expense of someone else. No one else sees the humor in what is said.
    The way to handle this individual is to “collectively” let him know the comments are not funny. Approach this employee with more than one person at a time. There is safety in numbers.

    If approached on an individual level he might think it’s only that one person who has the problem. Eventually he should get the idea that, overall, people don’t see the humor and the sarcastic remarks will stop. This behavior is even more damaging when the offensive employee is a supervisor.