The top 4 reasons people are good to work with and the link to the second most difficult issue at work.

Who is good to work with?

In a classic example of where research supports our lived experience, the top two behaviours of people who are good to work with are:

  1. good at their work
  2. are easy to get along with.

How true this is.  It is so much easier when you are surrounded by these people at work.

The next two most highly prized attributes are:

  1. work hard
  2. good communication skills

It is confirming but not surprising to see these results.  I’m sure that even in the most challenging of times this order of value remains.  In my experience, having colleagues who are good at their work sometimes happens and sometimes doesn’t.  There are significant organisational reasons for this as well as the more obvious ones about talent, fit for the job and capacity.

The second most frequently cited reason for some-one being difficult to work with

My strong professional interest is in those who are difficult or challenging to work with.  In the last article, I wrote about moodiness as the most challenging work behaviour and made some suggestions for managing or working with the moody person.

Following closely on the heels of moodiness, is the frustration with those who don’t do their job properly.

What to do to help people to do a good job?

3 organisational reasons:

  1. Set clear expectations about what needs to be done, and how it needs to be done,  and don’t leave people to work it out for themselves.
  2. Try to make it easy to do a good job. Most people want to work well but clunky processes, poor systems, lack of essential resources, conflicting or overwhelming demands get in the way.
  3. Align rewards with performance and behaviour. Too often the good performers are ‘punished’ by being given more work and often the most difficult work, and the poor performers (including moody people) are ‘rewarded’ by having people tip toe around them and addressing their performance or behaviour.  We need to turn this pattern around.

3 reasons that relate to individuals:

  1. Give people specific knowledge for the role (you know it is a lack of knowledge issue when improvement comes in response to training and development)
  2. Ensure there is the capacity to do the job (you know it is a capacity issues when it can’t be fixed by training or development actions)
  3. Address and support the motivation to do the job well (you know it is a motivation issue if they could excel if they put effort into their work).

About the survey respondents

There was a good cross section of respondents, a good mix across the types of organisations people work at, gender balance and spread across age groupings.  Of the 269 responses to the survey, the age breakdown is:

  • 33% – 26 -35
  • 29% – 36-45
  • 19% – 46-55
  • 19% over 55 years.

Next blog article

In the next article, I’ll write about the 3rd most difficult behaviour and also list some of the stories people shared about what happened to them when working with a difficult person.

Do you have a story to share?

I’m keen to collect more case studies, so if you want to share your story, you can email me at

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

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