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For workaholic colleagues, it's not enough that they feel compelled to work non-stop -- they may try to rope you into this obsessive pattern as well. If you let them, workaholic coworkers have the potential to sap your energy, wear you down and draw you into their ever-spinning work whirlwinds.
Avoid Group Projects
If you have any control over it, try to avoid team or group projects with workaholics. These people have the potential to disrupt collaboration through driven work practices not embraced by the entire team. They can create infighting and conflict among the group, particularly if they feel others aren't matching their pace or output. If you must work in coordination with a workaholic, press for a detailed project plan that designates assignments and denotes specific deadlines. This can help you refute allegations of “not staying up to speed” when you are actually on track.
Create both mental and physical boundaries with workaholics. Try to situate your workstation away from these coworkers, if possible. Be firm when refusing to work through lunch, stay late, work on weekends or take on tasks and responsibilities that aren’t yours. Don't allow your workaholic colleague to make you feel like you’re not career-focused or professional. Instead, emphasize your desire to do your job to the best of your ability while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Don't make it easy for workaholic colleagues to get in touch with you after work hours. This type of personality is often constantly connected to electronic gadgets and expects others to be regularly accessible through these mediums as well. Let it be known that you turn off your work phone after hours and don't check your office e-mail on weekends. If you get drawn into an “always available” trap, it can be difficult to extract yourself, so don't create a precedent by succumbing the first time.
Don't be afraid to say no to a workaholic colleague. For example, if a coworker is constantly badgering you to join a committee, lead a volunteer initiative or work double time on a project, just say no in a firm, yet professional way. For example, “I'm sorry, I don't have time to take on that project right now,” or “Thanks for thinking of me, but I'm not interested.” Don't feel the need to explain or defend your refusal, particularly if these requests are constant and are clearly outside the scope of your professional responsibilities.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.