Do You Work With a “Nopey”?

I used to work with a guy who seemed to always skate by on the thinnest amount of work. We both began work at the same firm on the same day, and this guy started out like gangbusters. He got into the office early every day, stayed late, volunteered to do extra projects, and worked weekends without a peep. He was a working machine.

For a month.

I didn’t notice it right away of course because I had already pegged the guy as a workaholic. But after a few months I realized that he was no longer the work monster he once was.

We had become friendly by then and so I asked him about it. “What I do, Steve, is work like a madman for a month when I start a job. That creates my ‘brand’ if you will. Bosses see me through the ‘hard-worker’ template from then on. But what I have learned is that I don’t have to keep it up after a while and yet they continue to think of me that way.”

Alrighty then.

There really are all sorts of types of people you deal with in your job, aren’t there? There is . . .

The Loyal Soldier: The Loyal Soldier is the type of employee every business needs and every boss looks to hire. Having someone who is willing to do what needs to get done, and does so competently and without complaining, is what we all want in our businesses.

The Braggart: This guy has no shame. He’s the one who loves to proclaim how much work he does, how important he is to the company, how the whole enterprise works because of him.

Personally, one thing I have learned is that truly great people let their work and their character do the speaking. They feel no need to show off. My brother likes to remind me that if I have to explain the joke, it’s not funny. That’s the deal here.

If you have to tell people how great you are, you aren’t.

Mr. 9-to-5: You know this guy, right? This is the person who is just there for the paycheck. While lots of people go to work to make a difference, Mr. 9-to-5 goes to work to make a buck. Don’t expect more.

The Comic Relief: The work version of the class clown has an essential role in the functioning of many an organization. She keeps things light and is usually great for the culture (just as long as she also gets the job done.)

The Skater: This was my colleague above. The skater skates by . . . until he doesn’t and gets canned.

The Creative Genius: Get out of her way and let her do her creative thing! By fostering an environment that allows your people to be inventive and try new things, so-called “intrapreneurship” has the potential to reshape your business for the better. Indeed, you don’t have to be or hire the creative genius. By offering the right incentives (money, ego-stroking, equity, freedom, what have you), you just may find one within your midst.

Nopey: This is the guy or gal whose favorite word is “no.” It gives them power (or so they think) but really what they do is gum up the works.

The Good Teammate: This is the person you want of course.

If you own a business, one way to get ahead is to manage your people well. Maximize their strengths, minimize their weaknesses . . . and don’t take “no” for an answer!

© 2017, The Strauss Group, Inc.

Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is the senior small business columnist at USA TODAY, the Editor-in-Chief here at Small Business Connection, a speaker and spokesperson. He can be reached at

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