7 Types of Daunting Co-Workers

The Challenges Leaders Face, and How to Spot Them

Having written about bad managers, I feel it is my duty to also report on the flip side, namely the bad employee. These are the nightmares of management and HR and usually just as difficult to get rid of as a bad boss. Having been in management for almost ten years has showed me a wide variety of the different kinds of bad employees, and here they are:

1. Mr./Mrs. Jekyll and Hyde

These are the people who are overly friendly on the outside. The ones who tend to have a huge, fake smile on their face, while almost hugging you when telling you “HELLO!” Of course, this is until you turn around. Then the dagger stares come out and the commentary starts. There are just as inauthentic as the huge smile they are sporting. They tend to be loyal to only one thing and that is their own interests. Don’t dare to make it on their “bad” side, as they will go out of their way to make your life miserable. They also tend to complain a lot about room temperature and noise levels, or get super sensitive about the same stuff they do all the time. Their second name is “hypocrite!”

2. The Busy Body/Gossip

These are the ones who focus on everything but their own job. Eager to give you “advice” and monitoring your every move, those are the types that feel their opinion is not only wanted, but asked for and absolutely necessary for the success of the business. They tend to consistently overstep boundaries and make rude, racial or otherwise inappropriate remarks and can’t wait for another sad victim to feed them with any type of confidential information; which they will promptly distort and spread all over the floor.

3. The Delusional Type

Oh, what fun it is to share metrics with that type! Because nothing is ever their fault, things were always out of their control, or they simply didn’t do it. You present them with numbers; they claim the system was reporting them wrong or that the system was down. You tell them about situations you have observed and they’ll look you straight in the eye, claiming that you saw it wrong, or that it was a one-time thing that never happened before. Either way, you (the manager) are the one who has the wrong perception and you only have it out for them; or you are discriminating against them…

4. The Drama King/Queen

These are the ones who stand out with passive-aggressive and completely unprofessional behavior, which includes rolling their eyes, making comments under their breath, throwing arms up in the air and fists on the table. The bigger the audience, the better the show. Anything to get that attention. Sometimes, but rarely, their behavior can be less dramatic. My personal favorite used to do yoga in meetings, read magazines or fall asleep! You can’t approach them, because they’re also delusional and of course, it wasn’t their fault and they feel justified behaving like complete jerks in the office. When you “threaten” them with a write up, they run to HR and claim you are treating them unfairly or you are too harsh.

5. The Eternal Victim (Also Known as Master of Excuses)

As we know, I already love this type outside of the office, but to manage them is even more of a nightmare. Of course, just like the other star employees mentioned above, they really shine when it comes to not taking responsibility for anything, blaming everyone else and having zero accountability. Everyone is out to get them and they cannot succeed, no matter how hard they are trying. When you have to discipline them for lack of performance or anything else, for that matter, they will either get defensive or start crying, and then they usually promise you to get better. This promise lasts for about two minutes. They are like a virus, and instead of doing their job or “getting better” they tend to bring the entire team down with their negative and bad attitude.

6. Debbie/David Downer

The company sucks, the managers suck, the benefits suck, their job sucks and, over all, they really don’t want to be here. However, they’re here because they need a paycheck and said crappy benefits. Instead of doing their job and maybe improving their environment, they do as little as possible, and spend the rest of the time complaining to everyone, co-workers, HR, managers and Facebook. Trying to coach them or giving them a better perspective has the same effect as sharing your feedback with the parking meter.

7. The Gamer

These are truly my favorites, because these are the only type that I can immediately fire. I’m talking about people who game the system; people who fake their timesheets or steal from the company. The “lesser” gamer is the one who waits until one sick occurrence falls off the calendar, and then immediately goes and takes another sick day. They are technically always playing by the rules, but actually doing just the absolute smallest amount to get by; but usually wonder the loudest when they don’t get the promotion or raise they feel they deserve. When you’re making them aware of their patterns, they claim that the patterns are a coincidence… a coincidence that has been going on for a year or more!


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28 thoughts on “7 Types of Daunting Co-Workers

  1. Bad_Employee

    From this it seems as if managers must’ve descended from the slave-master types.
    People are human, its easy for the manager to blame failure on an employee under them, human nature. Nice that your job requires managing people, do you feel happy doing so, nitpicking like that?
    I’m used to a wide variety of personalities, sometimes the Gossiper is the best at his job and the quiet one is only quiet because they are so clueless…sometimes Mr. Loudmouth has a right to be so loud. Sometimes the one who whines and complains does the job right despite their unhappiness (with you perhaps).
    I believe that people should get promoted or terminated based on their efficiency not their personality or else you’d be firing people for being themselves if you couldn’t stand it.
    Keep in mind that people should be hard working and efficient not just just a robot. Besides genius does tend to be eccentric…
    the world will always be divided into those who like to manage because they simply don’t know how to actually work and those who can get the job done.

  2. Carmen Knopfette Honacker

    @Carmella: This is precisely the reason I love being a manager. I make a difference in the life of people and help them shine. Out of all the teams I have ever managed, only one, per team, would fall into this category. Just like the comments reflect here. People understood what I was saying, except of the two who angrily lashed out. Statistics usually support what I was trying to say.

    @Gina Rose: 360 reviews have always been my friend. They are the reason I kept being promoted 🙂

  3. Carmella

    I have been a supervisor for 6 years now and I can honestly say I have met all types listed. I believe that most of these idividuals have no idea of their behavior pattern, but some do. There are some excellent personalities out there too which is why I love working with people.

  4. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Hi Carmen,

    They should re-post your article on bad managers, and let the readers chime in on that article again……you write such great articles.

    In fact, I’d love to see more of your articles recycled and reposted for those who may have missed reading them the first time around.

    I know you are a good leader Carmen…..your articles shine with integrity and honesty.

  5. Carmen Knopfette Honacker

    Oh dear, first of all, the article I wrote first was about bad managers! Not about bad employees. Go and look it up! Secondly, just being able to observe and pinpoint behaviors, doesn’t mean you are exhibit said behavior. But I cannot help but think that those who took my words out of context are exactly as the people I described above. “It isn’t me, hence, it must be you. How dare you attacking me.”

    The article was written to not offer a solution either. It was written to pinpoint behaviors, because that is what I do. I tend to hold up a mirror to people; and hence, usually get flack from those who fall into what I am describing. There is no need to defend yourself, if you feel that none of this applies to you! I don’t feel attacked when someone writes about bad managers, because I have NEVER been accused of being one!

    And btw, my teams tend to not fall into these categories. I have lead teams globally and the type above was observed literally, less than half a dozen times. How did I become a great manager? I learned from the bad ones. I am not full of myself, I have confidence and I have the vote of my employees to emphasize my point.

    I make it a point to promote those who are overlooked because the loud-mouth, incompetent trouble makers are trying to run the show by complaining, whining and faking their stats. I worked for a multi-billion dollar corporation and had the highest turn-over; of promotions! And whom did I promote, the underdog, the quiet, smart, hard-working, kind person who deserved it. Not the one who screamed the loudest. If you do your job well, if you do it with integrity and honesty, I will find a way to get you promoted.

  6. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    And…..GrittyKathy makes a good point too…..

    People are human beings, to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace…..when an employee feels as if they are giving 100% and also feel as if the company doesn’t care
    about them…..it’s not good for moral.

    I used to make it a point to remember everybody’s birthday…..I had about roughly 100 guys under me…..I had a special calender in my office just for birthdays.

    I also started up having a ” bitch session ” once a month….behind closed doors ( off the books ) where they could criticize me or each other, or , in general, bitch about anything from safety issues to bonus days off….now, the first few sessions were a bit tense…but after I gained their trust and moral increased…these ” bitch ” sessions turned into a fun brain-storming session…..and gripes went from being expressed angerily, to being expressed in an open, but funny, kidding way. We all actually started to look forward to them each month.

    It was company $$$$ WELL SPENT…..an hour each month turned into more $$$$ profit for the company and more $$$$$ on the employee’s paychecks.

  7. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Christina does have a point……there ARE just as many bad types in management…maybe there needs to be an article on bad bosses ?
    I say this because I do so many readings for people having problems dealing with bosses who are into playing favorites or just plain egotistic and narcissistic .

    I’ve always been a career psychic but have done other things as well in my life….

    When I managed a corporation, I was the first female in an all male field AND the youngest to ever climb the ladder so quickly. ( no, I did not sleep my way to the top, I worked long hard hours, on my feet, LOL to get there ).
    Part of my job was defending my company in any discrimination suits that would go before the Board of Labor by the way. ( It astounded me to learn how many people do not know what their workplace rights are to begin with….but I digress ). So, I’ve seen both sides of the coin.

    I had a great crew of guys working under me, but it took me close to year to gain their trust BECAUSE of all the head games the previous bosses had played with them. I’d say 96% were hard working guys, proud of the quality of the product they were producing.
    AND IT WASN”T EASY BEING THE FIRST FEMALE BOSS EITHER…..LOL…I remember giving them a speech which went something like ” you don’t have to like me, I don’t have to like you ” we are here to do a job. period.
    After building moral back up the first year….I took the ( manufacturing ) company out of the red and into the black and tripled profits…..why ? because I had restored moral and a sense of fairness to the workers.
    This company handled top secret classified contracts for the military so quality was a MUST, with NO room for error.

    I always believed that a good ” crew ” of workers can make or break a company…..but it takes good LEADERS , ( I hate the word ” boss ” by the way ), as well as good workers…..Leaders motivate , they don’t bully or push.

    I still miss those roughneck guys…..once in a blue moon, they reach out and call me .

  8. GrittyKitty

    I felt like this article was written by someone who likely fits into each of their own categories: “delusional” if he/she thinks they do not demonstrate, to any significant degree, any of the behaviors they easily pick out in others; “victim” if he/she thinks feels so strongly that employees’ (who are human beings with flaws showing up to do a job) daunting behaviors bring her/his team down that much, and definitely a “drama queen/king” for analyzing for the sake of entertainment the different ways to pigeon hole and then ridicule people without perhaps realizing that there IS always 2 sides to a story…which really leads you right back to this author is delusional. And because there are 2 sides, remember that any good employee (the very best in fact) could easily come up with 7 type of daunting bosses and if you are so involved in judging your staff this severely and picking on their flaws…you will lose excellent talent that way. I’ve worked for managers who went out of her way to cut other people down just because she didn’t like them while letting others get away with similar infringements. She didn’t broadcast what she was doing, but it was clear to us and made her look immature and unstable…even to those who got along with her. Sure, people will bend the rules, act like fools at times, mess up/screw up or over-react, but until you start hiring in robots…that’s what working with people is going to be about. Fire them if that’s what you feel is appropriate, deny them a raise (because they use their sick days in A PATTERN, oh GOD FORBID) but also plan on losing some talent and then running into the same crap or worse with the next person you hire. I am sure being a manager can be annoying…you do have to juggle a lot of personality types and filter out which bull you will accept and which you will not, and there are some who just “aren’t working out” and should be fired, so be it. But this article sounds so conceited and judgmental in it’s tone. Sorry. Don’t care for it. Not very constructive. Or maybe I’m just delusional because I have my own opinion. LOL

  9. Ms. Quiet, Deligent & Loyal

    I am the victim of my own success. “Mouthly”/Knuckle Head on the job is trying desperately to get me fired and boss is too dumb to see it. I truly believe that boss will come to her senses only when she fires me or God opens another door for me. Dear God, please open a door for me very soon. I don’t have the strength to hang on much more. The endurance is too much.

  10. ember

    ther is nothing worst than working at a company 15yrs were you go 100mph do youre best and you have people that been ther for 25yrs or more get more money do less work do nothing but complain abouy everthing as soon as they walk in the door you sit back and wonder how they would make it out in the real world because the company protects them like no tomorrow this really sucks but what can you do every company has to have these people i swear its to drive people like us crazyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  11. Watcher

    Whoa, Cristina! Calm down, angry bear! Sounds like you have a serious axe to grind (not literally, I hope!) Anger management problem?

  12. Kathy Barney

    I loved this article because it shed some insight as to why I might not be getting hired or promoted. Maybe it IS me. I can’t exactly say which category I fit into because I’m not sure. I am glad that someone actually had the nerve to write about “daunting” employees. (I am so happy you did not refer to them as “bad” employees). Nowadays you have to be so careful what you say or how you react if an employee so much as looks at you sideways.

  13. AquariusLady

    You forgot the “Brown Nosers/Suck Ups/Ass Kissers” and the “Inferior Complexed People”. I have to deal with one at work and I can’t stand her! She can do no wrong apparently and they always feel bad for her since she used her pathetic life stories to get attention.

  14. veronica haynie


  15. Cristina

    Most people I have had the displeasure of meeting in positions of power have been real jackasses, especially in HR positions, with their phony sweet voices and their phony ” I care so much about the employees here” makes me want to hurl in their faces. The only things they care about are being the biggest brown nosers they can be and destroying other peoples lives as much as they can. Most people who are put in a position of power over others lose their minds with it and become little dicktators. Who are you to be pointing out what types of employees there are in the business place and who are you to judge anyone? Are you God, Goddess or Creator? Or just full of yourself? Oh, and by the way that is not a spelling error.

  16. Heidi

    They forgot to mention the
    Overachiever/Job Thief (the eternal understudy syndrome;”All about Eve”)
    always looking to one up the person they are assinned to for learning the ropes and then come along and becomes the thief of your work…God I hate them!

  17. atul narang

    So true
    whie reading each point i realised i am a boss and i have all the above mentioned qualities..
    But yes i agree. i need to changethe next article can be “7 qualities in a boss”
    cheers and god bless

  18. Judy Hutchens

    Hey There! What a great article, I enjoyed revisitng all the co-workers and managers that I have had in my 35 years of work history that fit these profiles. Sometimes the managers are “gamers”. Lets see an article on those great people who just want to do a good job everyday and go home to a loving family. Possibly an article on how to promote these folks and make them even happier with thier lives. To much is focused these days on the bad in everyone. Let’s see some positive attitudes out there.

  19. Lynn

    You forgot about managing the good employees. There are still some of those around. Because of the other seven types, they rarely get the recognition or raises they are due.

  20. peggy

    Here is how I conduct my life: never present problems, without having a solution prepared and ready to offer. It creates balance. You have identified problems….okay….now what?

  21. LeoSnake

    Manohmanoh…Man! I read this and I was like lemme get a piece of this. Oh my God I can so relate and again as can others. At work Im what they call “The Quiet Type.” (Beware its the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Yeah…riiight. Its mighty funny how the quiet ones end up gettin watched the most and #1, 2,4, and 5 well heck the whole sinister seven get away with the most crap. Dont get me wrong. I mean if youre antisocial then you should be watched. BUT, if someone who chooses to be quiet, speak when theyre spoken to, be friendly and peaceful, and just want to get it done and get out, then whats the big deal? What happens with a lot of employers is that theyd rather hire and keep the trash talkers and limit the so called wierd quiet type. I was downsized from two jobs because I was “quiet and nice.” Got the job done, customers loved me, but I ws too quiet and nice. So now guess what happens?? The used to be hard-working quiet person sees how much bs is going on and the bs the mouthy less working person is getting away with, he tells his boss. Boss shrugs it off because the mouthy one is lip-lockin the boss’s rear end. So now the quiet person doesnt care anymore about his job and follows suit with the mouthy type…all because the boss dropped the ball. So then either the quiet one leaves or getsfired. The mouthy one still kissin up but not working. So THEN the boss finally realizes he got rid of the wrong person. I know from experience.

  22. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Hi Carmen,

    Great article !!!!!! So true !

    When I managed a corporation, I’ve terminated ALL of the above types…..and yes,especially , terminated many gamers and busy/body types .

    Love your articles, Carmen


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