Men looking irritated in a meeting

Four coworkers we could do without

Karen Geier|

When you spend your days with the same group of people for a prolonged period of time, eventually, certain things are going to bother you.

Sometimes we can overlook these things and go about our business, other times they get in the way of your day-to-day productivity. If your case is the latter, you might consider taking action.

There are constructive ways to lessen these annoyances and in some cases turn them into teachable moments for your coworkers so you can get your work done without the same aggravation level.

The best policy is obviously having a frank, open discussion with the offender, but sometimes that’s not a feasible option, or it has been tried already. Here are some other suggestions, along with a list of the most common types of annoying coworkers.

Unresponsive team members

In every office, there is one person who is terrible at managing their communications and more likely than not, they require a lot of your time to chase down. There are a few effective ways to get this under control. The highest tech version and least invasive way is to send return receipts with every email, but those can be foiled by someone determined to avoid contact.

Another way is to gently remind that person their opinions are important to your group and to explain that if you can’t get their opinions in a timely fashion, you may have to leave them out of the loop. Fear of not having a stake in a project should motivate your team member, if it doesn’t, you might need to take that opinion up with their boss.

People who take credit

There seem to be two speeds in business when it comes to credit: the people who believe everyone gets credit and the people who think the person who is first to claim credit is the rightful owner of it. This is a tricky situation because any action you take to correct a credit situation could paint you in a bad light.

A good way to make sure everyone who contributes does get credit is to make notes during meetings about who contributed. Use this documentation as a reference in group communiques and in your wrap reporting so you have an accurate accounting of who did what that you can share easily with your bosses and the team alike. If you record as you go, people will appreciate their acknowledgement and will be more likely to participate and acknowledge others’ achievements

People who derail meetings

At Google HQ, signs are placed in plain view in every meeting room asking questions like:

• Do you know why you’re here?
• Are we here to make a specific decision?
• Is there a known deliverable?

There is also a countdown clock in every meeting room, counting down to make sure meetings are productive and concise. These signs exist because every office has a number of people who live to attend and derail meetings. There are a few ways to deal with these types of people:

    • Stop inviting them (though this will probably get you in hot water with your team leads)
    • Ignore them during meetings (this may have a boomerang effect. Use with caution)
    • Have airtight agendas with time allotted next to each item. Do not waver for anyone on the team. This will seem slightly harsh when you begin to implement it, but your team may thank you when you’re close to your deadline and not burning hours in meeting hell.

People who refuse to demonstrate a POV

On every team, there’s at least one born politician who won’t give up their opinion easily. The problem with this is that they often take a revisionist approach if any part of a project goes wrong. The best way to deal with this is to solicit feedback from everyone and make sure it’s documented, whether in your project management software comments, or in meeting minutes. Explain to the group that the motivation is to make sure your team has considered all the options and that if someone can’t provide an opinion, it’s possible they might be superfluous to
getting the project complete. If that person cares about being considered vital, you can tip their hand.

Human nature is such that you will find these types of behavior wherever you choose to work. It doesn’t mean you and your teams can’t try to affect positive change and ensure everyone on your team is held to a standard.

See also:
The seven co-workers we can do without (and how to fix them)
Five employees who cost more than they’re worth


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