Misfits, Brown-Nosers, A-Holes … and Elf

One of my favorite Christmas movies is “Elf” played by the outlandish Will Ferrell. This movie cracks me up every time I watch it. In case you live on Mars and haven’t seen it, you can read the premise HERE.

As I watched in preparation for this post, I found a few things relate to work and the types of people we work with.

In the beginning, we find Elf working at Santa Land, going to school with all the other elves — and he stands out like a sore thumb. He’s much bigger than all the other elves and too big for his desk and has a hard time making his quota of toys at work . He gets frustrated because he was not made for this – it’s not in his DNA. Not to mention he’s teased by all the other elves behind his back.

  • At work, we put someone in a position and they just weren’t cut out for it. Perhaps they lied about their experience, or we promoted them for some weird reason but they just couldn’t pull it off. It’s often best to have the talk and say “let’s find you something else to do” or send them on their way. That sounds cold I know, but in the end – they’ll thank you for it.

When Elf finally reaches his real Father, we find he is a work-a-holic, who never spends time with the son he already knows he has – much less time for Elf or even his wife. He is pressured at work to make a decision “It’s either your family or your job.”


  • I hate these kinds of positions that cause us to make these difficult decisions. I’ve been in them myself. You cannot separate work and life, especially working parents. Because of the pressures of his dad’s position at work, he has become an angry and unhappy person. Luckily, in the end, he makes the right decision and chooses his family. Hopefully, that’s not just something people do in the movies. Make the right choice.

We all have ass-kissers at work who are constantly trying to brown-nose their way up the corporate hoo-ha and we must deal with them however we can. We find Elf being an overachiever at work simply because he’s good at “decorating” and he does this well at the Toy Store (Maybe it was all the sugar). In fact, he worked overtime and during the night to make a good impression.

  • Maybe these folks that work among us and are constantly trying to prove themselves have some kind of driving force in them and the need to prove something to a family member who mistreated them from years past. Or, could it be that they are just made this way? Like we saw in the movie? Hmmm…..food for thought.

Near the end of the film,  Elf’s Dad is at work and is dealing with a midget (okay, you guys know I’m not politically correct and I can’t help it) who is in advertising. This guy is the epitome of A-holes!! He has to have everything his way -– from being picked up at the airport in a certain type of vehicle, to his choice of drink, to how long he’ll be there … you get the picture.

  • Working with people like this is a pain in the ass!! We are constantly walking on egg shells trying to please them and hoping we don’t set them off. Nevertheless, we have to. And we adjust accordingly until one of us has had enough – and we or they eventually move on. (By the way, I love the comment from Elf “Oh, you’re an angry elf – you must be a South Pole Elf” It seems he had no filter on his mouth, like me).

In the end, it all works out in the true Hollywood way … But not all things work out that well in real life … which is why we love the movies, I suppose. We all love the happy ending.

What are some of the ways you have handled these types of situations and/or people at work? I can’t wait to hear your stories of how you have dealt with Misfits, Overachievers, Work-a-holics and A-Holes where you work. You know we all have them (even if we work from home).


This post was written by Susan Avello.

Susan is a freelance writer who is a monthly contributor to SHRM WeKnowNext and Examiner.com’s Chicago Women in Business. She is the author of two books and HR Virtual Cafe blog. Susan is the recipient of the 2011 Influential Women in Business award by the Daily Herald Business Ledger, the National Association of Women Business Owners – Chicago and Women’s Innovation Network. Follow her on Twitter @susanavello.






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