Coping With the Co-Worker You Hate

"If you think they have unrealistic expectations, you have to tell them what you expect from day one," Tulgan said. "Don't try to emulate Google. Try to emulate the U.S. Marine Corps."

Give younger workers extensive training, complete with checklists, worksheets and schedules, he explained. Also tell them "how you keep score," and give them self-monitoring tools they can use to track their performance, too.

Constant feedback is also essential, said Harvey. But, he said, rather than giving young workers one whopping assessment at their annual review, gently prod them along with bite-sized directives throughout the year ("You have to do this, not that").

Sound like a lot of work? Perhaps.

But, as Tulgan puts it, "The costs of not managing Generation Y in a high-level way are very steep."

Misguided workers could take the wrong track on projects for weeks, low performers could go undetected for months and high performers could leave for a position that offers more feedback, he said.

In short, "You could spend all your time in crisis mode," Tulgan added.

How Co-workers Can Keep Prima Donnas in Check

But what if you're not the boss? What if the office prima donna sits in the cubicle next to you?

"In terms of the things coming out of their mouth, deal with it," said Tulgan. "The good news is the company's paying you to be here."

If, however, a colleague of any age is sabotaging your projects or saddling you with their own responsibilities, it's time to get proactive.

"Document your own work every step of the way," including goals set, deadlines met and time spent on each project, Tulgan said.

"Don't worry about other people; worry about yourself. Make sure you're managing your relationships with your supervisors and that you're talking about goals and expectations with them."

That's what Maia, the reporter with the loafer co-worker, did. She kept her head down and kept management impressed. And when performance reviews rolled around, Maia caught an unexpected break:

Apparently, the overambitious, underachieving thorn in Maia's side wanted a new job and she wanted it now.

"She told me she thought she should be promoted to the same position I had and that she should get a raise," Maia said.

So Maia did what any self-respecting co-worker who's been taken advantage of would do: She stepped out of the way and let that prima donna run right off the corporate cliff.

"I told her she should definitely go make the demands she was describing to me," Maia said.

And so the diva did.

"The disconnects between her reality and everyone else's came out," Maia said.

By the end of the month, the prima donna was cleaning out her desk.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist, author and former cubicle dweller. Her books — "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube" -- offer an irreverent take on the traditional career guide. More tips on career change, flex work and the freelance life can be found on her blog, Anti9to5Guide.com.

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