Here's my comprehensive list of the obnoxious coworkers you'll run into during your career, with some advice on how to keep them from slowing you down.
Note: the cartoons are by the artist Afiat Sukmaraga and licensed from BigStockPhoto.com.
1. The Undecider
He takes days to make a decision and then, after it's made, revisits it. Then revisits it again. Then, when things fall apart and he is held responsible for his indecision, he becomes indignant or evasive. "It's not MY fault!"
How to cope: Establish a deadline where the decision must be final, and a default decision that will hold true if no decision is made. When the deadline comes, that's it. Refuse to consider any other alternatives.
2. The Ultra-Competitor
No matter how a situation plays out, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the ultra-competitor can't let it go until he's convinced that he's won--and, more importantly, that someone else has lost.
How to cope: Get him focused on having the entire team win, rather than just him. Hint: Pay him a bonus based on team achievement--never on individual accomplishment.
3. The Idea Man
He's got ideas and plenty of them. Unfortunately, all of his ideas consist of things that other people should be doing. When it comes to actually implementing one of his ideas, he's off thinking of another earth-shaker.
How to cope: Patiently explain that good ideas are dime-a-dozen but that they're worse than useless if there's nobody who can implement them. Gradually wean him away from "innovation" and into doing productive work. Warning: you may eventually need to request that he take his ideas elsewhere.
4. The Drama Queen
He automatically turns absolutely everything into a hissy fit, replete with pique, umbrage, and a host of other French emotions. He seems to draw energy from the drama, while draining energy from everyone else.
How to cope: Set up boundaries for the behavior that you won't tolerate. Eject him from any meeting where his behavior becomes obstructive. If he continues the behavior, don't invite him to meetings.
5. The Security Risk
No matter how many times he's warned, he installs programs off the web, opened email attachments and uses the same (easy-to-guess) password everywhere. As a result, he's continually the target of hacks and viruses.
How to cope: While there's no cure for stupidity, you can limit the damage by insisting he only use iOS devices or (if he must have a PC) a Macintosh. While those platforms are far from impermeable, they're much less subject to external attack.
6. The Iconoclast
He thrives on the negative attention that comes from dissing authority figures and social protocols. He misses deadlines just to prove he doesn't have to follow the rules, and takes up causes without really understanding the implications of his actions.
How to cope: It's all about aiming him at the right enemy. Oddly, these types often do well as "customer advocates" who can take on the bureaucracy in order to see that customers get what they need.
7. The Droner
He's always ready to give you a presentation--and it's usually one you've heard before. He's got a list of bullet points and is going to read each and every one to you, or know the reason why!
How to cope: Have an written agenda for every meeting, with a limited amount of time for presentations. Better yet, make a "no PowerPoint" rule for your meetings. Then stick to it.
8. The Social (Network) Butterfly
He is convinced that it's productive for him to remain online all day "building relationships" with all your customers. In fact, he's just adding to the day-to-day blather that's such an integral part of the social network.
How to cope: Assign him measurable goals--like a certain number of qualified sales leads that he has to create every week.
9. The Volcano
He explodes whenever things don't go the way he thinks they should. He screams at meetings, yells into the telephone, and gets in your face. While he might apologize later, the whole team ends up perpetually walking on eggshells.
How to cope: Raise your own intensity (or you won't be heard), and then refuse to put up with unprofessional behavior. If necessary, leave the room until he's cooled down.
10. The Procrastinator
He says yes to projects but fails to follow through. As deadlines approach, he can't be found, even via email. When the work is finally turned in (often by others who have covered for him), he'll go on a mini vacation to "recuperate from the stress."
How to cope: Unfortunately, the only solution here is a little good old-fashioned micromanagement. Lay out frequent (even daily) milestones, and create consequences for missing one -- or for failing to report that he missed it.
11. The "No Way!" Man
His job is to ensure that the company never takes risks. Usually he's a corporate lawyer, HR director or even the CFO. He creates red tape, ostensibly to lessen risk, but gums up the works so that it becomes impossible to do anything at all.
How to cope: Even if they're technically managers, treat them as consultants rather than decision makers. Let them assess risk, give you an opinion, and then YOU decide what to do. After all, they can only gum things up if if you take their advice as gospel.
12. The Detailer
Every time you try to have a general discussion, the Detailer propels the conversation right down into the bit-bucket. You start a discussion about strategy but quickly find yourself discussing typos and process steps.
How to cope: Never let the Detailer drive the discussion. Put his questions on hold and move them offline. Stay focused on the larger issues. Later, use his attention to detail to iron out the kinks in your plan.
13. The Creative Genius
He's a legend in his own mind ... and makes certain that you know about it. He's always talking about the amazing stuff he did in the past and his equally amazing plans for the future. Still, he seldom seems to actually do anything today.
How to cope: Give some lip service to his greatness, then bring him down to earth by breaking a project into chunks and getting him to "consult" on each chunk.
14. The Panic Button
Some people really shine in a crisis. Others ... not so much. This guy remains calm for day and weeks, but then when a problem has reached its inevitable conclusion, he runs around like a decapitated chicken.
How to cope: Create an early warning system so that there are fewer surprises. And replace the regular coffee with the decaf on the day the bad news hits.
15. The Psychic Vampire
He's always "helpful." He helps people understand what could go wrong. He helps people see that disaster is inevitable. He helps so much that everybody leaves the room feeling drained.
How to cope: You can avoid him as much as possible but the only permanent way do deal with this toxic is to find another job or figure out how to get him fired.