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Are Your Workers Zombies or Superheroes? And How to Survive Workplace Zombies (part 2)

admin December 26, 2015

Who are the workplace heroes, who are the dead people at work? Team leaders in your organization are required to categorize their members well and know how to deal with the zombie attack and boost engagement and productivity

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The working dead can turn up in any workplace. Anywhere teams and stakeholders can’t see what has been worked on. Anywhere requests are willy-nilly received and prioritization processes are undefined. Anywhere managers can’t see what projects are late or at risk.

Now that you manage to identify the workplace zombies, you are responsible for fighting back, turning your employees back before it’s too late.

How to turn zombies back before it’s too late




1. Newly infected

The best shot you should give to this kind of zombie is project status tracking (preferably real time), intimate conversation in private.

2. Shuffler

What can help this zombie is request management tool, at-risk reports, intimate conversation in private.

3. The herd

The best shot to this zombie is project status tracking (preferably real-time), intimate conversation in private.

4. Thriller

Polygraph test, numbers consistently gathered over your entire team’s work are good ways for dealing with thriller zombies.

5. Shifty

Objective scorecard system and distraction-free environment are the best shot to this kind.

6. Runner

Limits on use of emails, IM and meetings, and project visibility for all team members are good ways to deal with the runner.

7. Crawler

Hard rules, processes, managing use of resources are the best shot to this zombie.

The above are immediate actions you should take. For long term actions, you should do those things to build an engaging workplace, create superheroes and boost productivity:

How to boost productivity at workplace




1.  Foster creativity




Do you know who of your workers needs room for creativity? Some people would need it more than others. Indeed, it could be the reason why some are not thriving in their current jobs – there is not enough opportunity for them to unlash creativity. Or they think there is not. Explore this with your workers.

2.  Cultivate autonomy




Do you tend to micro-manage? Even with the best of intentions, you may be restraining your workers from realizing how much control they have over their own environment.

Are out-of-fashion processes or habits preventing your workers from making the adjustments that would eliminate waste or streamline processes? Do they know they can question things and do they know what is within their power to change? Check in with your staff to make sure they know their autonomy.

3. Encourage and reward initiative




Once your workers know what they can be free to impact, you can help them plan for success by coaching them on where they have room to step out and what that would look like. Let them know the performance and behavior you’re looking for. 

4. Create a safety zone

We, humans, would function better when knowing not only what success looks like but also what happen when we fail to deliver. Do your workers know what to expect from you when they don’t satisfy expectations or objectives? What is your common response when they need coaching, time or resources?

5. Nurture development of super skills




Practice makes perfect – this holds true to superheroes, too. Bruce Wayne became a better Batman after training and over time. The more buildings he scaled, the more agile Spiderman became. Though expertly skilled in combat, Wolverine had a remarkable learning curve in tackling the way the X-Men team functioned. Generally, without opportunities to skill up as superheroes, they mayn’t have ended up being super.

That’s why your employees’ attitudes, drives and desires to grow need nurturing and encouraging. One of best ways to boost productivity is to offer opportunities for staff to develop their skills.

In fact, studies have revealed that companies with a strong learning culture are:

•             92% more likely to create new products

•             52% more productive

•             56% more likely to be the first to market with products and services

•             17% more profitable than their competitors.

So why are so many enterprises still reluctant to carry out career growth programs within their organization? This may be because they are afraid that the workers may leave. But in fact, there are many workers who leave because they don’t get training. According to Quantum Workplace’s 2014 Employee Recognition Trends Report, workers under 25 rate professional development as their No.1 driver of engagement, and this is the No. 2 priority for employees up to age 35.

6. Think about your training methods

Training your team at regular intervals is helpful for keeping them sharp and letting them know exactly what you expect of their performance.

Look into your training method to ensure that your team is being appropriately trained and adequate number of training hours with the suitable trainer(s) are offered.

Do take feedback from your team because that may cast light on the aspects you may have missed. Also, it will make your members feel accountable.

7. Offer recognition




In a company climate filled with low-morale and disengaged workers, one thing may be missing?

Recognition. That thing can probably ‘save the day’. We are all human and the psychological need to be recognized for a well-done job is part of what drives us to work more, harder and better.

Feeling valued and appreciated is an essential human need. Relevant and timely praise would result in motivation to continue or even raise productivity. As per Customer Survey on more than 1000 businesses, over 50% had some kind of employee recognition program.

Out of ways Vietnam Manpower have shared with you today, this may be one of the easiest. Still, according to Dr. Bob Nelson - one of the world’s top-notch experts on HR motivation, performance, engagement, recognition and rewards, 58% of employees report that they seldom receive a ‘thank you’ for their boss for a well-done job.

Then don’t be afraid to give recognition to your employees. This will make a significant difference in your employees’ morale, motivation and productivity.

8. Break the monotony




Commonly, when a new team is formed, team members tend to be excited and energized about tasks at hand. Still, once the initial enthusiasm decreases, energy levels drops as the tasks become routine. Engage your team by breathing new life into them.

Occasionally, involve some power-packed members from other teams to give their ideas and talent to spice up the group.

If your team members have been behaving in a sluggish way, let them see themselves in that state. Let them be self-aware. Instead of lecturing them, let them see how indolent they have become through the videotape that records them working on a normal day.

Shake up the routine to break the monotony, if you think that is the problem. There are inexpensive and easy ways to do so. Take your team out for lunch, throw a pizza party in the office, hold the meeting at a nearby park. Think of different ways of doing things.

Lighten up your team members. Every once in a while, hold weekend outings for your members – for example, a weekend retreat, a family picnic.

9. Give second chances




Everyone makes mistakes. And they may be feeling bad about it. As a good leader, try not to fixate on their mistake, but focus on getting past it and becoming progressive when talking about it.

You need to differentiate between one-time mistakes and repeated ones, though. While one-time mistakes can be forgiven, repeated occurrence of the same mistake can show inefficiency in a certain process, or inadequate technical know-how on the worker’s part.

Whatever the reason, make sure you discover the truth about it and rectify it without wasting time.

In case you are interested in:

3 “simple but effective” principles that managers should apply

How to develop leadership skills (Part 1)

How to develop leadership skills (Part 2)

10. Say good-bye to outdated policies




One of reasons that some teams perform better than others is that they get rid of outdated policies and rules, and take forward-looking ones.

Of course, all teams have rules and guidelines applying equally to all the members. But do watch out and amend/ ditch those that serve no purpose or have transformed into something that inhibits your progress. You team probably don’t like them, neither!

11. Give super foods for super brainpower



Google's Cafeteria

The quality of your product and ultimate success of your organization is directly associated with the brainpower of your workers. According to the Mayo Clinic - a nonprofit medical practice and medical research group in the U.S, a healthy diet have been proven to enhance concentration, alertness, problem-solving skills and productivity. Meanwhile, as per a study in ‘Population Health Management’ – a New York journal, an unhealthy diet is linked to a 66% increased risk of productivity loss. That’s why you need develop a healthy diet to fuel your employees’ brain in case your company gives lunch and/or snacks or so at the breaks to your employees. If not, improve your employees’ knowledge about healthy diet choices so that they can take good care of themselves.

12. Be a fitness zealot

Fitness helps increase productivity. You know, most superheroes have super-human physical strength, helping them move mountains, toss cars around, and the like. Physical strength is needed for all employees and helps make them become office superheroes. Without it, their productivity would be affected.

By giving your workers the opportunity to move their bodies through regular exercise, you are creating a working place that thrives instead of just surviving. According to a study by Avner Ben-Ner - a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, participants given the opportunity to work out were reporting a 69% increase in productivity.

Indeed, exercise helps improve productivity through alertness. When we exercise, it betters blood flow to the brain, which gives us clarity and results in better decision-making. This doesn’t necessarily require a full cardiovascular workout daily. Just doing a little stuff can make a difference. For example, walking during the lunch period or taking the stairs instead of elevator. If possible, for bigger changes, implement well-being programs, offering benefits. A good example is Boeing - the world's largest aerospace company, one of 2013 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles ( a program that has recognized the outshining accomplishments of over 100 U.S corporations and over 300 employee health and well-being programs). They implemented numerous well-being programs – for instance, Boeing on the Move – a six-week physical activity challenge that employees take part in physical activities, track progress and are reward for reach the personal goals.

13. Smash stress

Work stress may have a significant impact on your employees’ memory loss, worsening their work performance and risking your business. That’s why to prevent and cure it are required.




Dig deeper:

Work Stress Most Likely to Cause Your Employee’s Memory Loss

Stress at Work: Types and How to Eliminate them

13 Must-Read Tips to Help Your Employees Manage Stress (Part 1)

13 Must-Read Tips to Help Your Employees Manage Stress (Part 2)

14. Encourage breaks

Regular short periods of rest actually lead to higher productivity. According to a study by Jack Groppel, Ph.D. and co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, a division of Johnson & Johnson, U.S, intentional downtime, even as short as 1-2 minutes, helps us come back stronger when we get to work. Encourage your workers to give themselves some minutes to disengage, reengage and be prepared for the next meeting or project.

15.  Facilitate a sense of belonging

Many employees feel like a gear in the machine of their organization. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy, ‘belonging’ needs must be met before people can function well at problem solving, creativity or achievement.

Do your workers know how their role fits in the organization’s big picture? Do they know how their skills or qualities contribute to the corporate success? Don’t assume they do. Give them a reason to care and feel being part of something bigger than them.

In summary

Making an effort to ensure high levels of engagement, motivation and productivity at workplace through giving best shot to zombies (if any), offering skills development opportunities, encouraging stress reduction, fostering creativity, cultivating autonomy, encouraging and rewarding initiative, creating a safety zone, improving training methods, offering recognition, breaking the monotony, giving second chances, bidding adieu to outdated policies, promoting healthy lifestyles, facilitating a sense of belonging.

Got tips to share about how defended your workplace from the zombie attack, increased engagement and productivity? We’d love to hear? Let us know in the comments below.

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