SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - If your office feels like a warzone some days, a book identifying all those colleagues and bosses you’ve been tempted to battle should help you survive — through laughter, and cutting back on e-mails.
Michael Stanford describes his recently published book, “Inhuman Resources: A guide to the psychos, misfits and criminally incompetent in every office,” as a humorous self-help guide to the annoying personalities that populate offices, with the aim of making sure good manners rule supreme.
Examples include the “I’m not confused, I’m just drunk” person, the “I’m disappointed in you” person, the “let’s have a meeting before the meeting” colleague, the “I’m so sick but I’m too important to go home” worker and the “I need to get into the lift before you can get out” person.
“No matter where you work, in which country or industry, people can identify with this book,” Stanford, a 41-year-old Australian who worked in various offices, told Reuters.
“Many of these people drove me crazy, but they also made me laugh and cringe, because I could see myself in some of them. Stress has driven us all to do things we later regret.”
The book was inspired by a videoconference call Stanford was holding with an overseas client, who all of a sudden got up and left the room, never to return.
“That was 10 years ago. He must have gotten a phone call from someone more important and just didn’t think we were worth his time. My boss told me to carry on speaking, which I did, to an empty room,” Stanford said.
Stanford started out in the workforce as a glue salesman — he quips most of his colleagues were too stoned to be a threat — before moving on to a range of industries including retail, hospitality, journalism, advertising and marketing, mainly in Australia. He now avoids offices, and works out of cafes.
The global financial crisis helped create more characters for his book, including the “It wasn’t me, it was the GFC” employees who blame all bad results on the downturn, not their performance.
Stanford said the dire economic straits will only increase bad behavior in the workplace, as employees are put under even more pressure due to the tight resources.
He warned, however, that managers and human resources officers must put an end to it before it becomes damaging.
“Stress levels nowadays are very high and the workplace is so competitive — that is destructive,” Stanford said. “Because of the stiff competition, bad behavior is often condoned or accepted or even rewarded and that should never be the case.”
And the solution to most of those workplace nightmares?
In addition to highlighting the importance of simple, good manners, companies should slow the pace and stop inter-office e-mail to get people talking face-to-face, Stanford says.
“E-mails and Blackberries are genius devices, but when you get to the point when people feel they have to respond to everything, all the time, you lose those precious minutes of thinking that you get when you actually get up from your seat and walk over to the other person to talk. Those calming minutes,” he said.
“Also, employers would get much more out of their employee if they sometimes let them sleep over ideas.”
And no matter how happy beating up that offensive colleague will make you feel, don’t do it, he said.
Editing by Tomasz Janowski