Replacing any employee is costly for a company- very costly. However, choosing to resign from a role and begin the job hunt is no picnic for a job seeker either. As a result, “retention” is a hot topic receiving significant attention in both the media as well as in board rooms. Many of the top reasons cited for employee dissatisfaction and resignation are the result of issues rooted in management– noncompetitive compensation, unsupportive leadership, lack of infrastructure and support to meet expectations, and minimal room for growth or decision making.  However, unhappy employees aren’t always created from the top down. One highly influential piece of the job satisfaction equation is the collaboration with the people who sit beside you- your coworkers.

Ideally, your coworkers’ value collaboration and are on your team- literally and/or metaphorically. In the best situations, they are working alongside you to execute the company’s mission, successfully complete a project, or help your department achieve its goals. In the worst situations, however, they are the reason you wish you worked remotely. Regardless of how much you might like your boss,  if they hire and require you to work with the wrong people, no amount of money will keep you from walking out the door and pounding the pavement in search of a new job.

When Collaboration is Impossible ~ Working with a bunch of clowns

The All or Nothing Clown

It’s hard to decide what is more irritating- The coworker who responds to nothing or the coworker who responds to everything. In today’s high-tech fast-paced workplace most of us rely upon email to communicate more than any other medium.  It, therefore, seems reasonable to expect some sort of response, even if brief.  It’s hard not to be annoyed if all you get is radio silence from a colleague. On the flip side, while it is helpful to receive feedback on your team’s progress, you don’t have the time to be interrupted by a constant influx of emails from the team member who feels the need to respond to everything- including things he is not directly involved in.

The ‘Reply All’ Clown

 One email can inform an entire team about a change in deadlines or expectations, as well as keep the team updated as to the project’s progress. Perhaps, though, after reading the message, you need further clarification about an issue; or maybe you’ve come up with a solution to solve an issue. What should you do? Reply to the sender or generate a separate email to share your insight with the team member with the problem. What you should not do is Reply All if your response does not apply to all. Continuing a group message to discuss details that should be discussed offline or to share the latest cat video you discovered is both distracting and irritating.

The Social Network Clown

It’s no secret that business professionals are using social networking. Of course, we are not advocating spending the entire day checking your Facebook page. However, a reasonable amount of social networking is to be expected. Some studies suggest that social apps and networks actually make employees more productive at work even if they are using it for personal reasons. That does not mean we want to hear you doing it. Shut off your notifications! Every tweet, beep, bing, and the chime is pushing your coworker to the edge.

The Clock Clown

 Your team meets at 8:00 AM every Monday morning. Tom rolls in at 8:12 AM every Monday morning. People are beginning to hate Tom. Arriving late to meetings, postponing appointments, and consistently showing up late for work sends a very clear message to those around you, including your boss. “I don’t really care about this job or the people I work with.” Management’s refusal to address the problem sends an equally clear message: “Those who don’t follow the rules go unpunished; so do what you want.” But let’s not forget Tardy Tom’s evil twin- Punctual Pete. Our never ending list of tasks dictates that most meetings need to have a hard stop and start time. However, those times should not hinder productivity nor should they override simple politeness.  If the hard stop time is essential for you due to impending appointments, let the group know ahead of time and feel free to quietly excuse yourself from the meeting. However, constantly reminding everyone that “time is almost up,” cutting people off in the name of “moving things forward,” and abruptly ending a meeting by gathering your things and exiting the room is just plain rude.

The Lingering or Rambling Clown

 Every manager hopes to build a team that no only works well together, but truly enjoy one another. When that goal is achieved, a team can work efficiently and successfully with little supervision or input from the boss. However, work time is not play time. Lingering in someone’s office to share about your weekend, standing in the hallway chatting about last night’s game-winning 3 pointer, or pontificating about all ways a certain presidential candidate will bring about an apocalypse is distracting and, to be honest, annoying. Be friendly with your officemates. Inquire about their weekend; perhaps share a bit about yours. Pleasantries are exchanged and then it’s off to work for you. Don’t hang around their office doorway or drape yourself across their cubicle wall, preventing them from accomplishing the laundry list of things they need to accomplish.

The Stinky Clown

It doesn’t matter how open the “open floor plan” of your office is. It is still an enclosed spaced with limited ventilation. Please remember that when considering whether or not to layer your pear blossom shower gel, moisturizer, and body spray. Not only do some people prefer cherry blossom to pear blossom, but many of your coworkers may be sensitive or even allergic to strong perfumes and lotions. Be considerate. Layer your apartment with air fresheners, room sprays, and oil infusers… not your body.

And one extra…

The Gossip Clown

This one need no explanation. 

Working alongside your coworkers is much like having roommates. While you are paying just as much rent as the person next to you and are entitled to live your life as you’d like, you need to be respectful of the fact that you are sharing common space. No one wants to live with the guy who leaves trash littering the kitchen counters or the girl who talks on the phone in the middle of the living room until 3 AM, making it impossible for you to get your work done. Not to mention, making you feel disrespected. If you’re not careful, those types of behaviors will leave you paying 100% of the rent when your ‘roommate’ decides to find a better place to live.