Identify A Workplace Zombie

They may look like the rest of us, but deep down their productivity-killing shuffle will drive your snow ops to ruin.

There’s a good chance a workplace zombie is lurking somewhere in the far corner of your business, and it doesn’t take much for them to spread their soul-sucking, money-draining, productivity-killing disease to the rest of your workforce.

That’s why half the battle is identifying and knowing what you’re dealing with, says Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm and workplace zombie hunter.

According to Zabriskie, be on the lookout for four types of workplace zombies.

© Denis Voronin

Negative Zombie

These individuals are easily identified by the distinct moans and complaints emanating from them. “They often use humor to hide their disdain for the organization,” she says. “Most of us don’t want to work around that kind of person.”

Minimal-Contributor Zombie

This type shows up, does the basics and nothing more, which can be exhausting to coworkers and supervisor. “You give them a list of things to do, they do it, and then they don’t do anything until they’re given the next thing to do,” she says. “The idea of coming for a new (assignment) never clicks in. This can be very problematic.”

Status-Quo Zombie

These individuals are change-averse and heel diggers. “They say, ‘I was doing this in 1983 and I don’t want to do anything different,’” she says. “They dig in their heels and, if necessary, they will sabotage you to keep things status quo.”

Short-Cut Zombie

They circumvent processes and procedures. “They’re the ones who, despite going through training, still cut corners to make their lives easier.”

“Any of these four (workplace zombie types) can be really bad and will have a negative influence on your existing staff and anyone new you happen to get in,” Zabriskie says.

So, as a manager, supervisor or business owner, how can you tell whether your ops are infested with workplace zombies? Starting to immensely dislike the people who work around you is sure sign there is a problem, Zabriskie says.

“High turnover is an excellent indicator that you have a zombie problem,” she adds. “Something is causing people to want to leave. So, what is that thing?”

Obvious gaps in productivity is another sure sign you have a zombie problem on your hands. “In zombie land, when someone is doing the zombie-like behaviors other people start to adopt them, too. So, people that could have been just fine all of a sudden become part of the walking dead at work,” she says. “And that’s a real problem.”

August 2019
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