Sunday, December 1, 2013

Five Types Of Dangerous Characters In The Working Habitat

Most of us have been there before. Fresh out of graduation, into our first job. It's hard enough for newbies to enter into the elite circle of chosen ones; it's harder to stay in the circle. There are rites to follow, tests to pass. Only the worthy will attain baptism.    

Law graduates must serve as 'pupils' to senior lawyers known as 'masters', before becoming full-fledged advocate and solicitor (like how I did, not too long ago). Joining a consultancy firm is glamorous, but without experience, you are likely to start off as an unglamorous 'analyst'. In leading retail companies and banks, they have special graduate programs for 'management trainees'. In this summer's blockbuster comedy 'The Internship', we witness a group of young, hopeful 'interns' compete for a coveted full-time job at Google.

Each cycle, newbies are inducted into a specific batch. Everyone starts at zero. Some will pass the finishing line, some will falter over a hurdle. Alliances are formed and broken. It's the survival of the fittest. Not everyone fights fair. Go hard, or go home.

Here are five types of characters you should keep an eye on, and useful tips of how to deal with them.

1. The Snake

It acts as if it's in a game of 'Survivor'. Every morning, in front of the bathroom mirror, it cackles maniacally as it hatches a new wicked plan to sabotage some poor, innocent colleague.

It doesn't backstab. No, that's too easy, too risky. Instead, with its forked tongue, it whispers subtle but suggestive ideas to another, and let that person plant the killing stroke on the target - back or front, it doesn't matter, because there's nothing to incriminate the sly snake.

Even if you suspect one of being a snake, think twice and exercise caution before counter-striking them! For a snake always smartly slithers into the sanctuary of the bosses right from the start, gaining their trust and favour. Attacking them risk antagonising them even more. And when antagonised, it'll go all out to bring you down, by turning the world against you. 

Corrupting souls since the Garden of Eden.

You should always... rally support, close ranks. A snake may have its own alliance, but never for long, as it sees each of its peers as competition and eventually tries to poison everyone's credibility. Don't strike back, hold your ground and stick together, team. Let it twist and turn, till it entangles itself in its own coil of deception.

Most likely to... commit career hara-kiri. Karma's a bitch. What comes around, goes around. Eventually, it will be the architect of its own downfall.

2. The Queen Bee

The hive is the Queen's kingdom. Either you smile at Her Royal Highness' every joke (humorous or not) and eat whatever Her Royal Highness fancies for lunch (delicious or not), or you are exiled out of the kingdom gates, doomed to an eternity of packed lunches and conversations with the tea-lady.

Whilst the loyal worker bees tirelessly toil away in search for flowery nectar, Her Royal Highness languidly lounges the day away. Occasionally, Her Royal Highness will be summoned by the Almighty Beekeeper to partake a holy quest, to which Her Royal Highness will it pass on to the worker bees. Once the sweet and golden honey is successfully produced, Her Royal Highness will personally offer the glorious honey to the Almighty Beekeeper. If the Almighty Beekeeper is pleased, Her Royal Highness will claim full credit; if not, Her Royal Highness will instead shift blame to the pathetic worker bees.

Chances are, her name is also "Honey". Or some other sweet, innocent self-anointed name.

You should always... be wary of the newbie who's quick to snatch the mantle of leadership. It's quite easy to spot the type - the overbearing jock, the dramatic cheerleader. Intervene early to stifle its influence. Otherwise, once it's established its army of Avengers, you'll have your ass spanked like Loki. 

Most likely to... marry into a rich family. And enjoy an inherited profitable business and early retirement. Lucky bitch.

3. The Sloth

Its diary on a Monday morning looks something like this:

9.00 am:     Wake up, hit snooze. Repeat process.
9.30 am:     Wake up, dress for work.
10.00 am:   Arrive at office. Breakfast.
10.30 am:   Log on Facebook. Post comments (preferably, about how hard you were working last night).
11.00 am:   Smoking break.
11.30 am:   Chat with colleagues. Check work email, but don't reply (wait till closer to COB).
12.00 pm:   Lunch

It's lazy, but wily. It knows how to find legitimate ways to evade work. A common ploy is to volunteer delivering documents or attending meetings at far-flung locations - less hours in office, more mileage claims (double win!).

The rest suffer because there's a certain amount of work distributed to all newbies, and the lazy bugger's not pulling its damn weight. And whenever there's some urgent (but shitty) work to be done for the bosses, it will conveniently go missing (unless, of course, it involves delivering documents or attending meetings at far-flung locations).

You should always... rat him out. Report to the bosses, HR, whoever - just do it. Are you happy doing more work and spending more time in office yet raking in less salary plus allowance than someone who does less work and spends less time in office? No? Then rat the lazy bugger out!

Most likely to... waltz and weasel his way to a better job or higher position than yours. That's how the universe works, sadly. Which is why you need to rat them out, to reestablish balance in the universe. Save the universe, people!

4. The Ugly Duckling

In a pool of excellence, it sticks out like a blot of incompetence. Maybe it fluked the interview, maybe it's capable but cracks easily like a Kit Kat bar under the slightest pressure, maybe it's meant to fill up the Diversity quota. Doesn't matter how it got here, the point is that it doesn't belong here.

Seems harsh to pick on it, when it's practically harmless and harbours no ill will to anyone. But this is an office, not a classroom. You're paid to perform on your job; you don't get marks for spending hours cajoling your colleague to stop crying and step out of the toilet cubicle.

In a tight circle of newbies, a weak link will pull down the entire chain. Remember the fat kid in Boy Scouts who's always getting the steps and timing wrong, causing the entire troop to take ten? Similarly, even if the duckling alone screws up big time, the rest might face repercussions - diminished trust and responsibility (e.g. reduction of important tasks delegated to newbies) and tightening of HR policies (e.g. punctuality checks).

At office, it brings down morale. At parties, it kills the mood. The more you indulge in its never-ending 'why-me' sob stories, the more you encourage it to mope around. For its goal, consciously or subconsciously, is not to rise to the top, but to drag everyone else down to its depths of misery.

Misery is contagious. Quick, isolate the source and stop the spread!

You should always... go hard on them. Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind. Stop showering them with sympathy, start poking them with criticism. It's for their own good. The sooner they know whether they're cut out for the job, the better. They need to be thrown at the deep end of the ocean, and if they can't swim, they should quit and find a less pressuring vocation, perhaps somewhere in the civil service.

Most likely to... slip into prolonged depression, eventually annoying and alienating even their friends and family. It's simple, really. We all learnt it as early as kindergarten - smile and the world smiles with you; cry and you cry alone.

5. The Lion Cub 

The dashing princeling, heir to a political and corporate dynasty. The darling princess, cultural ambassador with the finest taste for food and fashion. By age 20, it's probably accumulated more wealth and experience than most of us would by age 40. London. New York. Tokyo. Paris. Bora Bora. Machu Picchu. Been there, done that, posted as Facebook cover photo. 

Everyone else has to work hard to add value and justify their presence in the company. But this one doesn't. Its mere presence is the added value. Its father and uncle are happy that the young cub has a respectable job, so they clinch a few business deals with the company, out of gratitude. The bosses are happy to get a windfall of profits without sweating through a tender exercise and round of negotiations. The cub is happy that he can openly behave as a Sloth, and stay above reproach. Everyone is happy in the savannah. Except for its peers, of course (and American regulators, who view this as a form of soft corruption).

But there's really nothing you can do about it. Just let it be, don't even think of raising a whimper of dissatisfaction. The cub doesn't roar, doesn't bite. Because it doesn't need to. All it takes is a single phone-call for your boss to come down storming into your cubicle and tearing apart your fragile spirit into a thousand pieces, like running paper through a paper-shredder.

You should always... keep your distance. 'The Lion King' is a fictional Disney musical. It's not real life. A lion will never befriend a meerkat and warthog. Lions eat, drink and sleep with other lions. If you really wish to take up the challenge of taming lions, the safer way alternative is to join the circus - at least a real lion will only pounce on you with claws and fangs, and not order members from the Special Branch to gun you down and blow you sky high.

Most likely to... live a full life of sybaritic splendours, or die horribly in a car crash or bar fight. Which is another good reason why you should keep your distance.

It's A Jungle Out There

So for all newbies out there, take care and beware. Step out of your 'Hakuna Matata' utopian dream. Ahead, lies an unforgiving world of pain. Every workplace is a jungle. A treacherous jungle, filled with dangerous carnivores and parasites.

Happy hunting, folks. Or at the very least, try not to get eaten alive.

(All illustrations are the original works of Pou Leen)

1 comment :

  1. The use of animal features to depict the work environment is so relatable and really amusing, love it!