It’s not always fair to use labels to describe people, but sometimes, they just fit.  See how many of these Evil Eleven work at your organization.  They can try your patience, kill your morale, and even put you at risk of harm, if you don’t use your experience, intuition, and wits to outmaneuver them.  

THE BULLY

Behaviors: Uses verbal or physical intimidation, by being overly-aggressive in meetings and conversations.  They use their rank, status, size, or tone to demean others. Men and women can be bullies, as bosses or co-workers.

Reasons: Lots of behind-the-scenes reasons, often from a horrible childhood. Their poor self-esteem masks their fears. Plus, it’s worked for them before. 

Ways to Cope: Gather specific examples for your boss or for HR.  Stand up for yourself early and often. Don’t get steamrolled or become fearful in their presence.

THE IDEA KILLER

Behaviors: These types use lots of sarcasm, especially during meetings.  The trouble with them is their internal monologues become external. 

Reasons: They’re burned out, frustrated with their peers or bosses.  They won’t admit they have poor job status and no ability to advance.  It’s a learned behavior from their family and peers. 

Ways to Cope: If you’re the boss, use coaching with examples to tell them to stop these public displays of their disgruntled nature. If you’re a co-worker, ignore them or use peer pressure to get them to be quiet by saying other people have the right to their opinions without being criticized.

THE SMART SLACKER

Behaviors: Knows how to work hard; just doesn’t want to. Missing on Duty or Retired on Duty. Works only when it helps him or her.  The worst is when they teach other employees to slack.

Reasons: Burned out, dissatisfied, topped out, not enough job challenges, wants to retire but can’t afford to.  Frustrated, misses the “good old days,” with “better” bosses, co-workers, policies, or an easy-slack culture.

Ways to Cope: If you’re a boss, coach them and use their “legacy employee” status to remind them of their responsibilities. If you’re a co-worker, provide your boss with specific examples where they aren’t pulling their weight.  If it gets rough, ignore them and focus on your own success. 

THE HARASSER

Behaviors: Uses physical, verbal, sexual, or racially harassing jokes, comments, gestures, or behaviors. They create a hostile work environment using intimidation, power, fear, humiliation, and embarrassment.

Reasons: Learned behavior; past behaviors that have worked; their need to keep people one-down to them.  They’re either stupidly unaware or don’t care about gender, cultural, or diversity differences.

Ways to Cope: You have the right to work in a harassment-free environment and your organization has a legal duty to protect you and enforce harassment prevention policies. Don’t be afraid to report examples to your boss or HR; don’t give up your personal power.   

THE TATTLETALE

Behaviors: This one runs to “mom or dad” (the boss) for small things; loves to drop hints about co-workers not doing their jobs to management; ruins any fun in the office.  Creates bad feelings everywhere they go.

Reasons: Secretly envious or jealous; may use this as a strategy to get ahead of others or promote, but it’s more about not feeling good about themselves.  

Ways to Cope: These people are surprised when they get the silent treatment from co-workers or don’t get asked out with the group for drinks after work.  Watch what you say around them but be professional and don’t retaliate.   

THE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE

Behaviors: Kings and Queens of behind-the-scenes manipulations, guilt, and diversion.  They act wounded when you call them out for missing deadlines, not doing their work and blaming others.  Master manipulators who redirect blame.

Reasons: Learned during childhood to exert control over situations where they felt no power.

Ways to Cope: Realize when you leave them after they whine and complain about how and why they can’t finish their work, if you feel bad about it or it seems like your fault, they won. Don’t rise to their bait. 

THE CHAMPION

Behaviors: Loves to point out all the injustices, problems, and conflicts in the workplace. Runs to the boss or HR, often with petty complaints about others that really have no merit.

Reasons: They define themselves as entitled whistleblowers and defenders of what’s right. 

Ways to Cope:  If you’re the boss, focus on their poor work performance and not their constant complaints that you’re allowing things to fall apart. Use progressive discipline and performance improvement plans. If you’re a co-worker, tell them to mind their own business, do their job, and leave you alone to do yours.

THE GOSSIP

Behaviors: Talks about everyone else to everyone else, whether they want to hear it or not. Can create cliques, team conflicts, and the silent treatment among co-workers.  Great at ruining marriages, relationships, and friendships. 

Reasons: Bored, not enough to work to do, angry at certain people and uses gossip to sabotage personal or marital relationships

Ways to Cope: Watch what you say around them. Set little traps to see if what you told them gets back to the person you mentioned.  If you’re a boss, coach them into compliance.

THE SUBSTANCE ABUSER 

Behaviors: Attendance problems, accidents, conflicts with co-workers and bosses, appearance and health concerns. Worst case: Theft issues, arrests.

Reasons: Starts with home or health problems and escalates to at-work drug or alcohol use.

Ways to Cope: Keep your money and property away from these people.  Workplace alcoholics miss work; workplace dopers steal from their employer and co-workers.  If you’re a boss, use your company’s “reasonable suspicion” testing process and response policies.

THE PSYCHOPATH

Behaviors: Lying, hurting, and manipulating people for their own benefit.  No empathy for others. Smooth like a snake and just as dangerous. 

Reasons: They were born this way and they’re nearly impossible to treat with therapy or manage at work.

Ways to Cope: Limit your interactions, don’t give out too many personal details about your life, and keep your guard up.

THE NARCISSIST 

Behaviors: The world revolves around them and their egos are on display at all times. They are overly-sensitive to being slighted, ignored, or not praised. They see themselves as superior.

Reasons: Hard to know, harder to treat with therapy or coaching. It’s often a defense mechanism for their self-esteem and insecurities.  They don’t feel worthy.  

Ways to Cope: Give them praise when they deserve it and feedback when they need it.  Be aware of how they feel wounded if you don’t gush over every little thing they do.  Don’t let them talk down to you. 

Dr. Steve Albrecht, PHR, CPP, BCC, is a San Diego-based author, trainer, and consultant.  He focuses on high-risk HR problems, employee threat assessments, and workplace and school violence issues.  In 1994, he co-wrote Ticking Bombs, one of the first books on workplace violence.  He holds a doctorate in Business Administration, an M.A. in Security Management, a B.S. in Psychology, and a B.A. in English.  He worked for the San Diego Police Department for 15 years and has written 16 books on business, HR, and criminal justice subjects.  He hosts a weekly radio show, “Crime Time with Steve Albrecht.” You can find episodes on his web site at  www.DrSteveAlbrecht.com and follow him on Twitter @DrSteveAlbrecht

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