Beware of Office Zombies!

Halloween is behind us, and our attention turns now to turkey and stuffing, rather than ghosts and ghouls. The scary costumes are put away (for what it’s worth, my six-year-old was the scariest vampire queen EVER), the creepy clown craze has run it’s course, and it is safe to go outside again. But there is still something . . . sinister . . . out there. Something lurking in the corner, hiding in the copy room ready to pounce, or just outside your office door. The office zombies are among us!!

We’ve all seen them. They move in herds to the water cooler or break room. They take extra-long lunches. They stare mindlessly at Facebook. Their zombie brains are consumed with one thought— getting to 5pm (or maybe the weekend). At some point they were afflicted with a lack of buy-in, a lack of excitement, and that apathy turned them into zombies.

Office zombies are often spawned by a lack of engagement in a company, it’s vision and mission, it’s goals. It is an indictment on the leadership and company culture, and it takes strong leadership to fix it. Here are a few things leaders can do promote an engaged culture, and prevent zombies.

Keep it simple

Too many times, organizations have too many plans, objectives, and goals. The goals are not held up to the mirror of mission, vision and values, and there is no clear plan on how to achieve any of them. It can become overwhelming; when try to do everything, you focus on nothing. Dial back your company’s goals to those that are most important, and focus the team on reaching them.

Make the goals clear

In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield states that “vague goals produce vague results.” . . . which can lead to vague engagement by your team. Make your company goals clear, specific, actionable, and measurable. By clearly stating what the end result looks like, and defining the benchmarks that need to be achieved on the way, each member of your team will be able to see clearly his or her role in reaching that result.

Get everyone involved

Demonstrate to the members of your team their importance in achieving the goal and how they can contribute. Practice the Law of Compensation— show how achieving the goals of the company will in turn help them achieve their own goals. Show them what is in it for them, not just the company.

Be present

When someone needs you, pay attention. Put down the iPhone, close your laptop, focus on what they have to say and provide empathy. People want to work for leader who they feel are in their corner. If they feel like you are engaged with them, they will be more engaged with you.

Empower people to find their own solutions

When an employee comes to you with a problem, don't solve it; rather, work with them to find his or her own solution. Listen to the problem. Ask questions to clarify the issue and the goal. Brainstorm ideas. Build a plan to get to the goal. Offer positive feedback and your perspective for a course correction and send him or her out to execute the plan. There is always more ownership in executing your own solution than in being told what to do.

Don’t let your office turn into an open casting call for “The Walking Dead.” Get your people engaged, passionate, excited and feeling like their contributions make a difference and are appreciated, and keep your office on-target and zombie-free.

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