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13 Types of Coworkers We Like

Jul 07, 2009

An article about 13 types of irritating coworkers received sky-high readership in our last issue. Yet one reader noted the benefits of positive reinforcement. To that end, here are 13 types of coworkers we like.

In no particular order, some of the types of coworkers we like:

The Positive Coworker

The positive attitude of a coworker who stares into the troubling depths of today's business environment, then thinks of ways it might not be as dreadful as it looks, can be contagious. The atmosphere, team spirit and productivity of a workplace can benefit from creative workers' ability to see the unseen advantages of today's work environment. Plus, it's always nice when any non-creepy coworker smiles at you. There is not enough genuine inter-worker smiling going on these days.

The Party Planner

While workplace parties can sometimes be dull, it helps morale to have good work acknowledged. Plus, even a dull party is a brief respite from the daily grind. But the soda, pizza and cake don't magically appear in the conference room — someone, usually a colleague, has to take charge of planning it. Once the workplace party takes place, it is often up to The Party Planner to keep it light. It's a thankless job for one of the coworkers we like.

The Team Player

By definition, a team is a group of disparate individuals working together. Yet the frustrating reality is that there always seems to be one team member who is content to let everyone else do the work. The actual team product depends on successful collaboration, and The Team Player's attitude — working toward a common goal — is crucial to the group's success. Also important is The Team Leader, who establishes a shared vision and strengthens the commitment of all team members.

The Baker

There always seems to be a coworker who brings in sweets or freshly baked goods: cookies, brownies, (red velvet) cupcakes. Though this may not help the department's collective waistline, the act is hugely thoughtful and often criminally under-appreciated. For those of us who often work through lunch, The Workplace Baker keeps us from going hungry in the afternoon. We also like The Brewer, who immediately endears him- or herself to us by providing coffee for the group.

The Volunteer

To-do lists are getting longer and free time is getting rarer, so it's understandable that fewer coworkers are offering to lend a hand or give an extra hour to help you out. Even if it's not in his or her job description, The Volunteer offers to offload basic tasks to help lighten your workload because his or her own workload is low. The prideful may not accept your offer, Volunteer coworker, but your heart's in the right place.

The Joker

It has been well documented that humor and laughter can help reduce stress, strengthen morale, build camaraderie and, in general, be a positive influence. In fact, research has shown that people who have fun at work are more creative, more productive, work better with others and call in sick less often. The thing is, we spend at least eight hours a day with our coworkers. Eight hours! Even the most serious person needs some fun. So, thank you, Joker coworker, for lightening the workplace with your minor hijinks and brazen pranks.

The Modest Expert

Related to The Know-It-All, The Modest Expert always knows which formula works best for which problem, but he or she never has a smug or arrogant attitude about it when you ask for input or assistance. We all have our limitations of proficiency, but we don't need to feel stupid when a particular problem happens to fall outside of our area of expertise.

The Teflon Worker

Everything bad now seems to have a flip side: bad cholesterol/good cholesterol, bad banks/good banks, etc. Same goes for The Teflon Coworker, to whom nothing sticks. Bad Teflon Coworker: Regardless of how quickly this coworker screws up, he or she manages to repel the blame even quicker. Good Teflon Coworker: Makes a mistake but manages to let a tactless boss' criticism slide right off (while learning from the mistake, of course). We like the second one.

The Casual Friday Hawaiian-Shirt Wearer

We can't help but smile at the chutzpah of the coworker who still takes full advantage of Casual Friday by wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Don't stop.

The Tried and True

This employee fits the ideal corporate profile: competence. No one has to worry if The Tried and True coworker will deliver the goods, whether he or she is working on a team or independently. It is a foregone conclusion that this reliable, dependable person will do the job he or she is supposed to do, every time, on time, and right.

The Foxhole Buddy

Have a project due the next morning and it's already late into the evening? The Foxhole Buddy is the one you want beside you. Nothing seems to shake this person. This coworker is the one who keeps a level head regardless of the circumstances before him or her. The Foxhole Buddy is great for support, perspective and focus on the task at hand, particularly during crunch time or other high-stress situations.

The Secret Talent

You may not know this about Ellen in the corner cubicle, but when she isn't taking sales calls during work hours, she's a published science-fiction writer. Quirky Ted down the hall? He competes in the annual World Bog-Snorkelling Championship (Google it). Neither brags about these non-work-related successes, but both talents are unexpectedly intriguing and provide a more comprehensive profile of your colleague . . . if/when you actually find out.

The Enthusiast

Being energetic about taking on new tasks, and having the focus and determination to give that task his or her all, this worker is unafraid to try something new, whether it's using a different software program, training on packing pallets for an important customer or taking on an HR task. "The Enthusiast will try everything at least once, even if it's not in their job description," our IMT reader says. After all, flexibility is a much-heralded employee quality these days.

Your turn: What are your favorite types of coworker?

Earlier: 13 Types of Irritating Coworkers