Who is your office celebrity?
Which memorable celebrity persona do you take on at work?
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Work makes people do weird things. No seriously. It does.
At work, we’ve all known people we love, people we tolerate—because literally it’s our job to—and people we cannot agree with, no matter what the topic. Sometimes these people are our bosses, sometimes they’re our peers, and other times, they are people with whom we just share an office space. But regardless of their office role and ranking, they have a personality—or lack thereof in some cases—and learning to work with them can make or break a job.
They say good business leaders will surround themselves with personalities not like their own, because it’ll bring about different resolutions and ideas that can only be drawn when you have a difference of opinions. But managing those differing opinions can be quite the challenge and a job in and of itself.
On that note, try to think about the key players from all of your previous employers and what drove you crazy, who inspired you, and why you did or did not like working for a particular company. It’ll have you thinking—and to reference a little Shakespeare with a twist—all of work’s a stage and we are merely actors. It’s crazy just how easy it is to group personalities, and how each seems to play into predefined qualities.
Work: a movie in the making
The satire of workplace celebrity personalities in so many of today’s movies is disturbing, eye opening, and alarmingly realistic. Below, I’ve bucketed the workplace personalities per movie where I’ve seen them debut:
Elle Woods in Legally Blonde
The Elle Woods of the workplace is characterized by a narrow focus—small-minded if you will—ditzy in nature but somehow always coming out on top. You never quite know how these people survive in the workplace because they always seem to top the rumor mill and be out and about in the office space. They’re bubbly, always dressed to the nines—for a club or a great party—and come across like they’re trying so hard to be taken seriously but their mere nature contradicts the word ‘work.’
Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino
Dashing and heroic as a young man but now a little rusty and set in his ways, the Clint Eastwoods at work are opposed to quick change and like things the way they were in the good ol’ days. People around the office know them to be tough, but getting them involved oftentimes means elongating project timelines. There’s nothing quick about them, but they’re thorough and well-seasoned.
Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
Slightly sadistic in nature, the three words that people would use to describe this office character would be: pretentious, demanding, and stone cold. Accomplished and not afraid to enforce and reiterate just how right they are, this person is the ultimate passive aggressive communicator. Their expectations have often been described as unrealistic, and in leadership roles, people have to submit in order to appease this personality type. A younger, less authoritative version of this character comes across as stubborn for no apparent reason, self-righteous, and arrogant.
Milton Waddams in Office Space.
Milton’s personality ties back to the survivor definition found in Forbes’ article, The 9 Corporate Personality Types and How to Inspire Them to Innovate. This person is like a painting on the lobby wall. It reminds you that you’re at work but serves no ultimate business purpose. People like Milton attach to small ideas—like red staplers—and there’s no inspiring them to be part of the bigger picture (not to be confused with the lobby picture). They do day-to-day tasks and are happy with just that. You often wonder how these people have spouses—if they’re like this at work, how engaging can they be at home?
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith
I had to stick this one in here for those of us who think we’re the ultimate do-gooders at work—and, really ninja-like. But on a serious note, these are the soldiers of the workplace. They do good, mean well, show up to work, engage in conversations (but not too many)—and, perhaps above all, they’re good at what they do. They’re the backbone of the business and they make work exciting. These types of characters aren’t rare but it takes time to establish a presence like this. These are the executives that you oftentimes find yourself saying, ‘I don’t know how they do it.’ Work embodies their entire being and they almost seem to eat, breathe, and live the company they work for. They are the ultimate workaholics. Employees aspire to be these people in these roles—as they should—but once they get there, they kind of miss the simplicity of being able to make it to dinner with their family every once in a while.
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I think the key is not to be an extreme version of any of the above. Some (not all!) of the qualities found in these personalities are good to possess in small doses. Being demanding can be good because you’re driving business, being social is good because you should always be networking, dedicating yourself to small tasks is good because they still need to get done…you get my point.
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