Published on February 25th, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi


6 Productivity Killers Among Your Colleagues

Office environment is the place most of us exist day by day – for about 250 days a year. It is the office environment that modifies our productivity – a ton of different factors put together. And unless you run a solo business or are physically isolated from the rest of the team, you are surrounded by co-workers. They come in different shapes and sizes, and without doubt have the most impact on us. We spend long office hours encircled by these people, and they inevitably influence our work – hopefully, in a good way.

What happens, though, if the worst-case scenario unfolds and productivity levels drop? It seems efficient to maximize awareness of negative behavioral patterns among your colleagues – that may be real game changers. If you learn more about these types and acknowledge they exist around you, there might be effective solutions at hand.

Let’s now define the main colleague types we should keep in mind to prevent their gloomy spell from poisoning the office environment and impacting individual productivity levels.

Loud Neighbors

It is the most obvious group that is really hard to miss. They are all over you – they never lower their voices when they talk, they laugh and bang drawers and slam doors all day round. Noise pollution is distracting and should be dealt with. If you find it hard to stay focused around such people – find a way to minimize their influence.

The easiest – earplugs or headphones with the most relaxing non-distracting music you can find. That will work if your sphere allows such level of detachment, or at least you can do it occasionally. The hardest – change the office culture. Bring the topic of noise pollution in the office to discussion and try to work out a viable plan on how to change the situation. Approach the problem with all creativity and good humor you have.

For example, fine door-slammers each time they do it, or put up a “biohazard” sign each time someone starts talking loudly on the phone, or silently without change of face put on a clown’s nose when you hear a burst of laughter (if supported by other colleagues – you’ll have a real flash mob that will work), or introduce silent days. Be inventive – there are a lot of ways to choose from, it is only the matter of finding the right ones for your team. Soon the office culture will change as co-workers will be more aware of the noise they produce and will be more respectful to others.

Deadline Saboteurs

These are colleagues that regularly miss deadlines and do not deliver on their commitments. According to a recent Productivity Impact Study, about half of employees find such behavior of their co-workers demotivating which results in their productivity decrease.

The main problem with that is more work for everyone – even for those who managed to meet deadlines and present high quality of work. If some of your colleagues regularly set the team up by not doing what they are supposed to it means more e-mails, more meetings for everyone, time wasting and generally feeling frustrated and stuck. If such things become severe, people get fired, but in most cases co-workers cover up for each other. The question is who needs such levels of stress and productivity loss.

What can be done to fight such viral behavior? The best advice is to increase communication and coherence within the team. Try Agile methodology or any other approach that will allow preventing missed deadlines and poor quality of work. Introduce daily meetings and hear from your colleagues on their work. Agile in combination with time tracking software, provides means to make sure every member of the team is contributing accordingly and doesn’t leave loopholes for deadline sabotage.

Office Idlers

Such colleagues exist in almost every office and do very little of what they are supposed to, but pretend to work hard. Hence most of their tasks are shared among their coworkers. Idlers are usually good psychologists and flatterers – so bosses think highly of them. They have their individual tactics and stick to it for years. Most likely they pretend to be friends with the most efficient team members and benefit on them.

Try to avoid them and their friendship, never allow them to help you out because you’ll owe one for ever. Do not let them abuse you. Another way to influence this is to make all processes within the team more transparent. Again, sprints and daily stand-ups will be instrumental.

Lone Stars

These are individualists that are reluctant to contact other team members, they are very difficult to communicate with and get feedback from. This is annoying because projects take longer to complete and many things need to be adjusted or redone. Can such behavior be productive? Of course not, even more so it directly affects the output of colleagues around – morale drops as well as individual motivation.

A simple thing to do is to try and balance teamwork by delegating more or less detached chunks of work to lone stars. Imagine you are outsourcing or this person is working remotely. It may also be a responsibility of HR people to try and integrate such colleagues into the team. Corporate events and other forms of teambuilding may work. Or at least it is critical to find out the true reasons of such behavior. If it is disruptive for the team and cannot be corrected or changed, one-man projects may be a solution.

Immediate Attention Seekers

Such colleagues put their interest first and ask for immediate attention. This can be destructive and may have a direct impact on productivity. Such people lack delicacy and show little respect to others. However, they usually do not mean any harm, they are spontaneous and usually work on creative tasks. Well, a better time management and frequent meetings may help as you’ll facilitate the necessary framework for opinion/idea exchange. Or possibly it is even more practical to create conditions for direct collaboration like round table discussions and brainstorming. Give attention seekers what they want and they will no longer bother you.

Emotional Junkies

These guys are not shy to show their emotion in public. What’s more – they provoke co-workers to become demonstrative about their feelings as well. Unfortunately, they tend to translate negative emotion. They provoke others to share their depression/anger/ disdain etc. In such way, they make it uncomfortable for their colleagues to work. What to do with it?

Try and change their attitude and set a positive tone in the office. Positivity improves productivity, increases morale and ability to overcome adversity, encourages co-workers to share their ideas and collaborate better as a team. However, positivity is not easily planted. It takes time and effort to cultivate. Talk to the colleagues who export negativity, maybe they need help and support. It could be just a difficult time they are going through and it will pass soon; or it may be that they suffer from a lack of appreciation or office gossip etc. Such things can be easily fixed.

To sum up, we must say that troubles with colleagues in most cases are reversible. There are always ways and solutions to find. Just make sure you pay enough attention and acknowledge problems before things go out of hand and your productivity will be at stake.

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.

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