The ultimate workplace casting call – recognise anyone?
It’s the start of a new financial year here in Dubai – always a good time for reflections on the workplace.
Recently, I started to reflect upon my years in the workforce being involved in high pressure and high-profile projects. I don’t know if its the nature of this type of work or if it’s just the places I seem to land but there are some fabulous personality parodies that seem to continually crop up on the way.
This led me to create the ultimate workplace casting call.
You might find bits and pieces of these characters around, or components within some people. You might even recognise yourself.
But one thing is for sure… there must be someone or some element of someone that you recognise on this list. Comment, like and share if you agree.
Let’s start our workplace casting call….
See if you recognise anyone, or maybe even yourself?
I’m sure everyone knows an evil genie in the workplace. These are those people who are completely obsessed with amassing power.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s power they actually want or whether they think they can contribute anything good through having it; it’s just the requirement to have power for power’s sake.
I was sitting in a meeting the other day and it was as though the person sitting before me was turning genie right before my eyes – their voice started to deepen.. their shoulders broadened… I swear I saw cuffs appear at their wrists.
Unfortunately, the only thing I didn’t have, was the “teeny tiny living space”bottle to suck them into so we could lock them away and just get on with life!
This one can be a little tricky to recognise at first. Sidling up to you at morning teas, they will be the one asking you about your family and your hobbies, trying to find some quick common ground to get your trust.
Slowly, the conversation turns to ‘what you think about such and such’ or ‘what you’re doing on a piece of work’. Before you know it you’re pouring your heart out to them about what you really think about something.
You will usually leave these interactions feeling quite befriended…it is then that they strike.
The next thing you know people start looking at you funnily. You’ll find that you’re being asked strange, probing questions around what you think about things. Emails get escalated to your boss and shortly after, you’re getting locked out of meetings.
The smiling assassin will be there in the corner with their little smile, chuckling away as your world gets stickier and stickier…
This guy’s entire mission in life it to wreck stuff. It doesn’t even have to be anything important. He just wants to bust stuff up with his big crazy hands.
You can pick a Wreck-it pretty quickly. They will be the ones walking into your meeting late given how ‘important’ they are. Then, they will usually listen for a moment before they start voicing blatantly uninformed opinions about something.
Often, they will proceed to make a biased, reactive decision that turns your world upside down before they waltz on out in search their next victim.
There is no stopping a Wreck-it in most cases. You just have to pick up and rebuild after each incident and do everything possible to avoid them finding out that a meeting is in progress that relates to their subject matter. Avoidance is the only option.
This one doesn’t just appear at work. She can appear anywhere in life however, in the workplace, her effect on situations is polarised.
Sadness will always look as though the world rests on her shoulders. She will always be depressed, either because of how much ‘work’ she has or because someone has upset her.
It won’t matter what you try to do to help though. Sadness does not seek rescuing nor support. She simply wants sympathy, attention and to depress as many people as possible. She is the one you sing a happy “good morning” to as you quickly speed past looking frightfully busy on your way to a frightfully urgent appointment.
There is a subtle, but important difference between Sadness and Eeyore. Whilst Sadness aims to be merely depressing and a downer, Eeyore seeks to find something wrong with every possible suggestion made.
Eeyore starts most sentences with something like “it’s a great idea but…” closely followed by gems such as “we can try it.. but it won’t work”. Whilst in many cases these naysayers can have a point, they can erode any kind of creativity or innovation.
Their goal is not to be malicious, but you may find that you struggle to include them in any kind of brainstorming as you know they will find fault.
Don’t be scared to challenge an Eeyore though. Whilst they will never agree an idea is good, they also don’t tend to make any better suggestions so can be easily shut down in meetings and conversations. Just be careful that you don’t buy into their doomspeak!
I have to say, the Jedi is actually a bit of an inspiration in the workplace. These people are capable of deflecting any and every action that should be assigned to them. It can truly be a thing of beauty to watch.
These guys will be in the thick of a meeting – making suggestions, offering opinions, dictating actions and work but never, ever will you see them walk away with an action. They use some impressive techniques and are pros with the lightsaber defense.
Their main move, from my observation, is to promote what a great idea it is that something gets done, and then they’ll quickly align the idea with the relevant subject matter expert. This will leave no doubt in the minute-takers mind about who should be assigned the action.
I remember being in a meeting with a famous Jedi once. When someone attempted to assign him an action, he had to reach that lightsaber way down into deep defence and ended up retorting with “are you trying to give me an action?” followed by raucous laughter.
Guess what? Still no action – virtual high-five to you Jedi!!
Every workplace I’ve ever been in has benefitted from a Donkey. Donkey brings fun and laughter into most situations. He’s the one that everyone loves to have around as he brings a bit of fun to what is otherwise, generally pretty dull.
He’s usually more than happy to engage in long, pointless conversations. They tend to be about interesting and/or funny stuff though so once again, no-one minds. He’s the loveable larrikin of the office.
He will pay out on people in such a way that they don’t get offended but they know to stop talking. Sharp witted, cheeky and able to get away with what most other people can’t.
The other great thing about Donkey is that he usually has a serious side. If he sees someone genuinely upset or struggling, he will get in there, drop the jokes, and help out. Ultimately, he likes people to be happy and harmonious. An asset to any and all teams! We love you Donkey!
This guy is the ultimate leader in the office. He’s the settler of disputes, the wise counsel and the driver of getting things done.
The best role to find Woody in is when he’s the boss of the area or a team as this is where he does his best work. Many times, he’ll just be one of the gang but will carry the authority and command the respect of a leader.
The Woody’s I’ve worked with are the guys that you look at and wonder how the hell they do it.
How do they handle everything that comes their way without getting flustered? Why is their inbox so organised and how do they answer all those damn emails? What given them the strength to find a sense of humour in stressful situations? How do they manage others’ incompetence without losing their cool?
I aspire to be a Woody one day but alas, I fear I do not have the brains as these guys are sharp! Which is no doubt why they’re normally running the show – and thank goodness they are too!
Donna Paulson (from Suits in case you don’t watch it)
However your workplace operates, I’ll bet you have someone who consistently just organises ‘stuff’. They will be the person coordinating the sporting team and collecting charity donations. They’ll be on top of the leaving cards, birthday cards and relevant team events.
Nothing is ever too much trouble for Donna, however, she also doesn’t put up with any nonsense.
She tends to be the go-to person for absolutely anything you need. Donna also has innate understanding of political alliances, relationships and who to go to for what. You will find that she never looks flustered and she can pull something out of nothing.
Your Donna may not be as stunning as the real Donna, in fact, most often they tend to be very unassuming. But don’t underestimate this powerhouse of activity. Make friends with your Donna as soon as possible. It will make your life in the office that little bit easier…
This guy is perhaps one of the most annoying people in the workplace.
He’s the dude/chick, usually well dressed and often not bad-looking, who has a completely over-inflated view of themselves. Most people think their organisation values them in some way. This person actually believes that they’re integral to the entire operation and that everyone knows it.
He can most often be seen high-fiving people as they walk through the office. He will usually announce his arrival with an exclamation something similar to “it’s okay, I’m here now”. And of course, he thinks that every member of the opposite sex within a 10km radius wants to jump him.
The best thing about this guy though is that, if they’re in a position of influence, it’s very easy to work him. Tell him you love his tie, his hair, his aftershave. Pamper, swoon, laugh at his jokes and most of the time, he will get you whatever you need.
This guy is a piece of work. It doesn’t matter what happens, what you throw at him nor what he does. He will never, ever take responsibility. They are pure teflon – nothing sticks.
They are somewhat similar to Wreck-it Ralph in that they will usually show up late for meetings talking on their phone and generally displaying an air of superiority.
However, they will usually stick around long enough to hear what’s happening and then voice a long and seemingly well-informed account of everything that everyone else has done wrong the whole way along.
At no point will they take any accountability or ownership and if you dare ask, you will usually end up the one being fried by the terminator machine gun and handed the blame. And, if included in an email chain, they will ALWAYS contribute at least a one-liner that either deflects blame to someone, or demands action from someone else!
Deflect, deny, detract – this is the Terminator’s mantra.
Endless energy and positivity are the trademarks of Joy. She is the one bounding into the room ready to face any challenge of the day. No matter what the situation, Joy will be the one pulling out even the smallest of good bits to make a point.
The glass is eternally full for these chicks which is an enviable trait. And the most important part of their role is to subtly keep the people around them on track.
There are some who find Joy annoying.
The Evil Genie is often not a fan as having positive people around can subtly suck their power. Likewise, Wreck-it-Ralph can sometimes find it hard to wreck Joy in front of other people as it comes across as just plain mean. But Eeyore loves Joy as she represents a bit of fun – “you think of something positive and I’ll find a reason it’s not”. And so the dance continues.
I truly believe that we all have the capacity to be Joy, no matter how sucky you perceive your workplace to be.
So there you have it – our workplace casting call is complete.
Probably not a fully comprehensive list, but certainly, I think, an accurate one from my line of work.
Like and share if you find someone you recognise on this list.
If you feel strongly that there’s someone I’ve missed, I’d love to hear more so please leave a comment and share some details.
Oh, and if you recognise yourself in any of these characters, probably not a bad time for some self-reflection and awareness. Perhaps try some counselling if you don’t like what you see reflected. After all, life is not a dress rehearsal!
Keep smiling and have a great day at the office!