Are You an Office Stereotype? (Part 2)

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Yesterday I looked at the chatterbox, the bully, the nice guy, the girl everyone likes, the slacker, the bludger, the expert and the know-it-all. This is Part 2. See if you can identify yourself. You might even be two or more stereotypes all wrapped up into one.

The bitch

The bitch has an opinion on everything and everyone and isn’t afraid to share it. Foul language in a loud voice isn’t uncommon and when you first meet her, you aren’t sure exactly how it is she manages to get away with talking to people, even her boss, even the boss’s boss, like that and still keeps her job. You soon find out that it’s two reasons: because she’s good at her job and because everyone is afraid of her, even HR. While there’s never been any proof of physical altercations, you wouldn’t put it past her.

On closer acquaintance the bitch may reveal herself to be simply a rough diamond. Or she may very well just be a bitch. It’s important to know the difference. Because while one could be an important ally in your career, the other will throw you under a bus as soon as look at you.

 

The bastard

The bastard tends to be perpetually grumpy, not just in the morning when it’s acceptable but all day long. Everyone who works for and with him is useless and he ‘might as well just do it himself’. He’s never a bastard to you directly but you hear stories and rumours and you once came around a corner just as he was finishing being a bastard to someone else – it didn’t look pleasant – and you make a mental note to yourself not to give him any reason to focus his attention on you.

The bastard will often be put in charge of a branch or department that just refuses to toe the company line, obey OH&S rules, follow quality procedures, etc in order to scare the hell out of them and whip them into shape. Turnover can be high in such circumstances but the bastard himself will tell you, ‘It’s just dead weight anyway.’

 

The boss’s pet

The boss’s pet tends to be quietly spoken, accommodating, ready to jump to the boss’s defence in the lunch room and at some point you will overhear the boss and the boss’s pet recalling fondly the weekend they spent together at the boss’s beach house. Not spent together in an icky way (that’s an entirely other stereotype altogether). No, it’s likely the boss’s husband or wife was there, as well as the partner of the boss’s pet and they all spent a wonderful couple of days talking, eating, drinking good wine and staring at the coastal vista from the balcony.

The boss’s pet has somehow attained son or daughter status. Instead of pissing off the boss, as most of the staff do, this person has managed to work their way into the boss’s heart and can never again do anything wrong in the boss’s eyes.

It’s not always a comfortable position to be in because it’s usually pretty obvious when someone becomes a boss’s pet and it can invite good-natured and not-so-good-natured ribbing from workmates not so fortunate as to enjoy the boss’s favour.

 

The doormat

Like the boss’s pet, the doormat is also quietly spoken and accommodating but they will never see the inside of the boss’s beach house. In fact, the boss is unlikely to acknowledge their existence much at all, except when the dry cleaning needs collecting, when the coffee needs making or when a task comes up that everyone else baulks at.

The doormat is just so glad to have a job, any job, that they will allow everyone else they work with to walk all over them. The doormat will complain – softly, behind closed doors, to someone they know will never repeat what they’re saying, and certainly nowhere within earshot of anyone who works in the HR department – but then they’ll return to the demeaning, boring, why-isn’t-the-work-experience-kid-doing-this tasks that comprise their day-to-day working life and get on with it.

 

The clotheshorse

The clotheshorse is easily identifiable – they’re the best dressed person in the office. At least they certainly think so. Sometimes, instead of being best dressed, they are flamboyantly dressed because they are so far fashion forward that they’re starting a trend rather than just embracing one. On occasion, this is accompanied by too much makeup but it can just as easily be a man or a woman.

The clotheshorse spends almost their entire salary on their wardrobe and you’re unlikely to see them wearing the same outfit twice. The same piece of clothing, yes, but in an entirely different outfit that makes you think it’s yet another new item. These outfits are topped off by large pieces of jewellery, a fake Rolex or Tag Heuer is almost guaranteed to make an appearance at some point, and shoes that can double as Chinese torture devices.

 

The soon-to-be-retiree

The soon-to-be-retiree has worked in the company for as long as anyone can remember, has a wacky nickname left over from the days when there were barely any women in the workforce and therefore no one to complain to or about its offensiveness, loves to talk about people who used to work for the company but have long since died, defected to a competitor or retired themselves, and has a large collection of polo shirts adorned with the company logo dating back to the 1970s.

With regards to their role, there are two types of soon-to-be retirees. The first takes great pride in the work done over the years and, wanting to preserve the legacy, is keen to have a succession plan in place to make sure any transition is a smooth one. After all, there’s nothing worse than the thought of taking phone calls on the golf course from a panicked replacement for the first two months of a new non-working life. The second couldn’t give a rat’s ass what happens after they’re gone and even if a panicked replacement made two months’ worth of phone calls, none of them would be answered.

 

The charmer

The charmer is the guy that all the women like. He’s good-looking but he’s not arrogant. He pays compliments and he genuinely means them. He’s sexy but he’s not sleazy. And most importantly, he’s married, he loves his wife and nothing will ever change that. He’s the man that all the women compare the men in their lives to and, of course, find them wanting.

There is rarely more than one charmer in any office and most of the time you’re lucky to have one at all. Because he’s so charming, the company likes to display him to clients, potential customers, visiting executives and offices in other states so he is only available to his co-workers in small doses, which merely increases the legend of his charm.

 

The fraudster

The fraudster and the charmer have some things in common. Because in order for the fraudster to be able to get away with whatever fraud he or she is perpetuating, it’s important for those around them not to be suspicious.

The fraudster is likely to be in middle management, just high enough up to make decisions but not so high as to have to take responsibility for them. The fraudster will have some accountability for budgets and/or financial approvals and all expenses will seem justified until a detailed investigation reveals them to be less so. Whether that means products and/or services provided by a company they actually own (while failing to disclose the connection), invoices for products and/or services never even provided, or just a good old-fashioned hand in the proverbial till.

However, the fraudster is likely to take things too far and rather than just meaninglessly flirting with people in the office, they often involve themselves in multiple secret flings. The fraudster will often be married to a lovely but clueless partner who knows less than the co-workers about what has been going on when it all finally comes out.

 

The political animal

Despite an understanding that politics is the second most dangerous of all workplace discussion topics (religion being the first), whether it be local, state, federal, international or just what’s going on in the boardroom, it’s all the political animal ever wants to talk about. There is nothing the political animal likes better than a debate, especially one that can be started between two other people, allowing them to simply sit back, smirk and watch.

The political animal should be in politics but for whatever reason hasn’t been able to find a way in – in all likelihood, they were just too annoying for the professional political animals, which is really saying something.

I’m sure there are plenty more office stereotypes not covered in Part 1 or Part 2 of this article. Add your contributions to the comments section below.

*First published on LinkedIn 18 August 2014

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