Friday, January 18, 2008

Workplace Birding

"In her book [‘The Boss From Outer Space and Other Aliens at Work’], Ms. Addesso identifies 11 personality types that show up in what people value and how they communicate and approach their work. She assigned each trait to one of the planets, plus the sun, moon, and Pluto...."
- The Globe and Mail - November 2, 2007

Patricia Addesso’s planetary personality types range from the action-oriented, forward-thinking Mercury to the detail-oriented Neptune. I don’t know what kind of workplace Ms. Addesso is from but it definitely differs from any I’ve experienced. Instead of employing planetary personalities, I think it’s far more useful to identify workers using the following avian types:

The Brown-beaked Buttkisser
No matter how silly the suggestion, if it comes from the boss, the Brown-beaked Buttkisser will praise it to the heavens. Easily identified by its constant wing raising in meetings and its annoying, repetitive cry: "That’s great boss. That’s great boss."

The Ididit Warbler
Native to most workplaces, the Ididit Warbler carefully monitors the workload of other birds in search of worthwhile accomplishments. Upon spotting any such success, its strident cry "I did it! I did it!" can be heard throughout the office.

The Two-faced Backstabber
This attractive bird has an unusually beguiling song. But beware of its fierce attacking style when out of sight. Even when confronted with the damage it has done, the Two-faced Backstabber will continue to praise its victim fulsomely and deny any wrongdoing.

The Ruby-faced Supervisor
The Ruby-faced Supervisor is a bird that’s really a fish out of water. Long since promoted beyond its level of incompetence, when the going gets tough, this bird quickly becomes hysterical and blames others. Its repeated cry of "He did it! She did it! They did it!" sends subordinate birds scurrying for cover.

The One-legged Snafu
This poor flightless bird can’t take a step without falling flat on its face. No task is too routine or too easy that it can’t trip up the hapless Snafu. Often preyed upon by the Ruby-faced Supervisor.

The Gold-plated Nepotee
Much like the One-legged Snafu, the Gold-plated Nepotee has little or no work-related abilities. However, unlike the Snafu, the Nepotee typically snares a top-ranked position and salary due primarily to its biological relationship to one or more of the senior birds.

The Nearsighted Neophyte
This is the new bird on the perch. Inexperienced in the ways of the working world, the Nearsighted Neophyte fails to see how things really work and possesses an almost preternatural naiveté. Known for its overt overeagerness, this down-covered rookie eventually learns to shut up and keep a low profile.

The Smooth-voiced Delegator
Native to any large organization, the Smooth-voiced Delegator has an innate ability to pass on unwanted tasks to other birds. Even birds looking to avoid work find it hard to resist its siren-like call with its promise of money, success and promotion. If you unexpectedly find yourself sitting in for someone in a meeting, you probably succumbed to the Delegator’s charms.

The North American Acronymophile
Known for its amazing ability to convert any organizational plan or goal into an acronym, this bird seeks to intimidate and dominate its adversaries by its use of indecipherable abbreviated phraseology. Some mature Acronymophiles are reportedly able to speak almost entirely in buzzwords, slogans and acronyms. Sadly, this bird’s ability is inversely proportional to its rate of abbreviation usage.

The Soon-to-be-superannuate
An older, wiser denizen of the working world, this bird tends to avoid other birds and to defer tasks and assignments indefinitely. Seldom willing to share its acquired knowledge with others except when it comes to pension-related questions. Known for its uncanny ability to count backwards from its retirement date.

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