Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Amateur Sociology in the Workplace

I've been out in the workforce now for basically sixteen years now.  Compared to those older than me, unless they spent a considerable amount of time being unemployed, that's not a lot of time.  But compared to those who spent time in college, I'm at least four to six years up on them in work experience.  Sure they've got the degree, the higher salary, more vacation, a bigger house...wait, there was a positive for me somewhere...oh yeah, more time on the job.  I guess that's a positive.  But what I'm not getting in 0's at the end of my paycheck or in time spent traveling to an exotic location, I'm getting in the form of an education.  I seriously should have taken up sociology because examining the different types of co-workers has been absolutely fascinating.  Note:  I'm not actually studying anything.  This is more of a realization I've come to over time and just decided to blog about tonight.  I've discovered a few typical types of co-worker that seem to be universal.  Everyone who reads this will know someone or a few someones that fit into these categories.  There may be more categories than this or people that fit into more than one category depending on the situation, but these are what I consider to be the main ones, at least in my experiences.  (Please note:  anyone who takes any of this seriously obviously has no idea who I am or what I'm about and should probably quit reading at this point.  I am no more an expert in any of this than I am qualified to be a rocket scientist.)

  1. The Moron - A category that's pretty much self-explanatory and the kind that is most prevalent.  Some are born this way, some cause themselves to be this way due to chemical influence, and some actually choose to be this way to avoid responsibility and conflict.  These are the co-workers that ask questions after months or years of service about things they should remember from the first week.  Generally, you just wonder why these people are gainfully employed, let alone being in a position that requires them to know something more than alternating inhaling and exhaling.  As long as you don't have to directly interact with them, they can be a great source of entertainment as they interact with others.
  2. The Constantly Apathetic Person - Plain and simple, this one just doesn't care.  As long as they can earn a paycheck and get through the day, whatever happens just happens.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the situation.  If you're needing people to stay out of your way so you can complete your job, this kind will be glad to oblige.  But if part of your job is relying on them to complete theirs, this is where a problem can arise.
  3. The Partially Apathetic Person - Also known as the "situationally apathetic person", this is one of the more frustrating types.  This is a person who generally cares about doing their job, but can all of a sudden decide that it's no use.  At that point, they become useless until their own frustration passes and they return to caring again.
  4. The Complete A-hole - Hopefully you can avoid contact with this one, but usually it's unavoidable somewhere in the day.  This one will sabotage a good mood for no apparent reason or will ruin work-related plans in some way, shape, or form just because they can.  Again, you wonder why someone like this continues to be employed.  My theory is that they were a Constantly Apathetic Person in a position so long that they've become bitter and bored, transitioning into the Complete A-hole.
  5. The Pleasant Placeholder -  A ray of sunshine that brightens up the whole office!  Generally an agreeable person who will be happy to help in any way.  Unfortunately, if you don't know how to spot it, this could be a disguise for type 1, The Moron, and you can get horribly fooled.  But a genuine Pleasant Placeholder is usually a good thing.  They're happy where they are, they do their job, and they don't get in your way.
  6. Management - Simply put, everyone has to deal with this at some time, unless you're as high up the ladder as you can get.  If so, you're in this category.  You can be Management and be another of these categories, but the reason I broke them out separately is that there is nothing you can do about them.  Management knows better than you do...about everything.  There is no fighting them or trying to change their mind, especially if it's Ownership/Management.  At this point, it's best to keep your mouth shut, nod your head, listen until they stop talking, and walk away.  Even better than that, avoid them altogether.
  7. The Caring -  Someone who knows what they have to do, attacks it like it is their own business and gets frustrated easily when it can't be accomplished.  And the usual reasons why it can't be accomplished?  See numbers 1-4 & 6.  Simply put:  if you're a 1-4 or a 6, get out of this person's way and let them do the job.  If it's screwed up, then you can blame them.  At that point, though, at least you can say that someone tried, which is more than most of the other types would ever dream of attempting.  Give them a chance.  This, as you might be able to guess, is the rarest of all of the categories.  This is the one I try to be.
I'm sure there are more groups that I'm missing, but these tend to be the stand-outs.  Most of these categories aren't as cut and dry in most companies, as many of your co-workers can be two or more of these at the same time.  If you're anything like me, some of your day is spent figuring out who is what category on that given day.  Knowing that will affect how you go about your business, telling you who will be of help and who it would be best to avoid.

Disclaimer:  This wasn't really written to be of help to anyone but myself, just to air some frustrations I've had over the years over many jobs in a humorous way.  Any resemblance to any former or current co-workers is strictly coincidental...or is it? :)

I hope you've enjoyed reading this.  Did you come up with any other categories?  Have any funny stories about co-workers that pertains to this?  (Please omit names.)  Feel free to comment away!  Have a great day, everyone.

No comments: