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5 types of people who never succeed at work

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They exist in every office. The people who moan, who are afraid of change and who don’t stick around long enough to complete a job.

As their boss, colleague or mentor, you are probably annoyed by them every day, but here’s the thing – these people will almost never, ever succeed in their careers.

While you might find slightly different varieties of these people in your workplace, I guarantee you they sit in your department, or down the hall. And if you can’t find them, then it’s probably you.

Here are the 5 people in your office who will never succeed:

1. Groupthinkers

Groupthink is the reason why people say, “But we’ve always done it this way! We can’t change it!” It’s also the reason why things never, ever get done. Ever.

I was first introduced to this term by our Editorial Director, who described groupthink as the reason why progress is never made – because all the people in a particular workplace have convinced themselves and each other that what they’re doing is already amazing, and changing it would be a terrible idea. And if something isn’t working, it’s never their fault.

But when you have a bunch of people in a workplace who enable each other’s bad (or lack of) ideas you have a groupthinking organisation – and the dangers of this are limitless in such a competitive environment.

2. The relentless job hoppers

We have mentioned before the problems I have with serial job hoppers, and one of my biggest gripes is that they almost never stay anywhere long enough to learn anything tangible to take away with them to their next job… and their next job… and their next job.

They (often, not always) simply jump around getting by doing just enough work for just long enough to put it on their CV, before they go looking for a nominal pay rise elsewhere.

The worst types of job hoppers won’t help you achieve anything in your organisation, and will simply be a waste of precious resources.

If you’re a job hopper – stop leaping! Actually think about what you might be able to achieve in your current position and how much more you could learn if you stuck it out for another year. Go on, I dare you.

3. The drowners

Oh god, I’m so stressed. I have so much work to do. And I was supposed to hit that deadline yesterday. And I haven’t told my boss about that glitch in the system. I should deal with it, but maybe I’ll stay quiet another day and it will take care of itself.

Does this sound like a familiar conversation you have had with yourself? Then you are a drowner. Drowners are people who allow themselves to become so buried with work or problems that they can’t find a way out, and when their manager finds out, it’s often too late.

Avoid being a drowner by speaking up when something goes wrong, even if you think you’re going to piss someone off by admitting failure. Trust me, it’s far better than telling your boss about a mistake when there’s absolutely no chance of a recovery.

4. The non-stop complainers

I can think of three people off the top of my head who seem to spend all their time complaining about work on Facebook: “In the office late, again” they say. “My boss is totally killing me today”.


Yes, everyone is entitled to some complaints about work, but if you’re one of those people who answers the question “How are you?” with “OMG SO BUSY, OMG WORK IS MENTAL” then perhaps you need to think about why you have more negative than positive things to say about your job.

Here’s an idea: Don’t complain about something unless you have some sort of solution to suggest to fix the problem.

5. The serial self-deprecator

Self-deprecation can be funny, like, when comedians and celebrities do it. But when you’re in a boardroom, a meeting, or in front of any crowd in a professional capacity in a corporate environment, you can’t afford to undervalue yourself or your company.

Self-deprecators discredit themselves and their abilities as soon as they open their mouths, because instead of deflecting the thing that they’re not confident about, they draw immediate attention to it.

And that’s the problem with it – it might be funny (for some) and you might think it makes you look modest, but it can be counterproductive in such a way that people actually start believing you.


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Rebecca Lewis
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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