Zombies are all the rage these days. They are all over the movies, TV, and video games. This macabre fascination disturbs me, but at last I think I have uncovered the source of this unholy preoccupation. Could it be that the battles acted out on the screen provide people some hope for overcoming the zombies growing within? I’ve met many people who are losing this battle–and I have seen organizations unwittingly drive their employees into the zombie zone.
I have never had a client who actually instructed their employees to wander aimlessly around the office, respond listlessly, and turn out lackluster work products. I have, however, worked with several who encouraged it, and one or two who seemed to have designed their organizations to make armies of zombie clones.
So, for the benefit of those who want to transform their zealous employees into zombies, and for those who want to revive the zealots buried inside their zombies, I’ve come up with a few of the best ways to foster the transformation. In this post, I will share how you can turn your zealous employees into zombies. Next time, I will let you know how to revive Zombies to their natural God given state – zealousness.
Part 1: From Zealots to Zombies
Let Tyrant Bosses Roam Freely
When I visit underperforming organizations, I frequently encounter a tyrant boss. Tyrants often:
- Pressure their employees to meet high, vague and poorly understood performance standards.
- Behave as though their ideas are superior and that others “don’t quite get it.”
- Use their power to punish people who don’t bow to them.
These managers press people to perform but are dumb-stricken when asked to define their standard or to show employees how to achieve the desired results themselves. These things, they believe, are self-evident to competent people.
It’s depressing to work without seeing any progress. Imagine giving a broom to a custodian in the Sahara desert and then ordering up a sandstorm. Now transfer that idea to your workplace. If you are having a hard time imagining how to do it, let me share a few techniques I have seen:
- Change your priorities on a regular basis.
- Make everything a top priority.
- Talk about improving, but don’t invest the time and resources.
- Set goals that can’t be met.
- Make yourself unavailable to answer questions.
Make Work Seem Completely Meaningless
Require people to do things that have no apparent importance to them. For example, make them enter codes into a computer but don’t let them know what the code means, how it’s used, or how it will impact the bottom line.
If you can convey that their brains are unnecessary, you will do even better in your quest to turn zealous employees into zombies by saying things like:
- You’re not paid to think.
- That is above your pay grade.
- It’s technical.
Give them the Silent Treatment
Never go out of your way to let someone know what you think about them. If you do, they might get the impression that you care! If you show interest in a person’s work, they may start believing the two of you are somehow connected in accomplishing something important. Besides, if you give feedback, they would certainly be able to accomplish something, and that violates the “no progress rule.”
So that’s it! If you follow this advice, you will have your own personal tribe of zombies. You will know that you have arrived when you hear them groan these things like:
- I just work here.
- The only reason I work is for the paycheck.
- I just do what I am told to do.
- It doesn’t matter what we do; nothing changes.