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Day of the Living Dead
October 19, 2010 @ 02:57 PM | By Jill Huselton

Somehow, Halloween has gotten to be almost as commercialized as Christmas. Go to Target or Walmart and you’ll find aisle upon aisle with costumes, candy, inflatable pumpkins for your front yard, orange lights to hang outside and enough knick-knacks to fill your grandmother’s house a couple times over.

This week I got an email from Bud to Boss with “Are zombies invading your office?” in the Subject line. Given all the talk about trick-or-treating that’s going on at my house, it caught my attention and got me thinking. With companies reeling in their spending and head count, many people find themselves overwhelmed because they are doing the job of two or three people, in over their heads because they’ve been tasked with responsibilities they aren’t qualified for or unhappy with their current position but unwilling to look for a new job because there aren’t many out there to be had. In any of these cases, it isn’t doing the company any favors.

So what if you are a supervisor of someone who falls into these categories? Here's what Bud to Boss recommends for keeping the energy going in your workplace:

  • Recruit the living. Hire only those people who respond to your job postings and you might as well set up an office in the graveyard. Instead, actively seek out people who are enthusiastically and happily working in their current jobs, and then lure them away.
  • Check for vital signs. During the hiring process, ask questions that will draw out candidates’ attitudes. Do they speak excitedly about overcoming a challenge or dealing with difficult customers? Remember: You can train workers in most skills, but a bad attitude festers.
  • Zap their brains. Keep employees’ minds active by giving them assignments that are challenging and that tap their interests. When they complain about a situation, ask “What do you think we should do?” Train them to develop solutions instead of moaning. Don’t promote workers out of the positions that they enjoy and excel at; find ways to use those talents in new ways. Example: Make highly skilled employees mentors for new hires.
  • Isolate the infection. Zombies aren’t hard to spot. If you ignore the early signs of decay, one zombie will feed off your entire team. Soon, you’ll be facing an army of the undead. Better to confront just one. Be clear with your team members about what behaviors are unacceptable. And if they cross the line, remove them from your team. (Following your HR policies, of course, not violently.)
  • Seal the Pit of Nowhere. That’s where employees’ ideas die, neglected or mired in red tape. And when that happens, it also snuffs out other signs of life. Give your team a way to submit ideas, and follow up promptly on every one, even those you can’t implement.

The key to each of these points is communication. Whether you’re interacting face to face or through online meetings, keep them in mind so your department or office doesn’t turn into a place of doom and gloom.

Have you had success turning attitudes around? What tips can you recommend?

Jill Huselton is a Senior Marketing Manager at InterCall

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