You know the type. They “go through the motions” day after day, seeming almost unresponsive to any and all requests. No matter what, work is always the last place they would ever want to be, and they constantly eyeball the clock, counting down the seconds until they can leave. If you experienced this type of worker in your leadership experience before, than you are already familiar with the dreaded Workplace Zombie. Instead of sucking brains, Workplace Zombies suck profitability, production, and morale out of the office.
While it does seem daunting, there are ways motivate your workforce without having to worry about having the resources for bonuses. Here are a few tips to use leadership in order to make your Workplace Zombies more effective employees:
Use a System of Recognition
Even the laziest, least responsive worker responds well to being told they are doing a good job. Try and develop a merit or recognition system that would work well for your workplace; this system should be inclusive enough that everyone can be a part of it, and visible enough that employees can receive acknowledgement of their successes by their peers.
Examples of recognition systems include Employee of the Week/Month or competitions centered around an integral workplace task, such as sales. Recognizing the hard work of an employee does not even have to be formal- something as little as a small compliment to a Workplace Zombie lets them know that you care about the work they do and that they are appreciated.
Set a Good Example
Many managers’ response to a disinterested staff is to become disinterested themselves. Don’t fall into this vicious cycle! If your work habits noticeably regress, this will be noticed by your staff and the Workplace Zombie virus will only spread further. Instead of finding reasons to be discouraged with your work, strive even more to be a hard-working example of consistency and reliability. Demonstrating your skills as an employee will establish to your staff the value of hard work and will inspire them to mold themselves in an image similar to yours.
One type of work or a particular, rigid routine does not necessarily work for all employees. Younger, more sociable employees may find a weekly 8-to-5 schedule daunting and draining because of the activities they have outside of work. Simply being too tired or being unable to adjust to a particular schedule can cause even the most well-intentioned employee to become a Workplace Zombie, simply by virtue of how they spend their time and at what points of the day they have the most energy.
The answer for these types of employees is to find different routines based on the type of worker they are and what they respond best to. Some individuals may appreciate coming in to work later and staying later, while commuters from long distances may prefer to work 4 ten hour days as opposed to 5 eight hour days, in order to save on travel time and the expenses that come along with it. Getting to know your staff, understanding their different needs and wishes, and having the ability to account for these differences is an integral part of both being an effective leader and motivating your employees.
Regardless of the other techniques you use, your staff will not respond to you well if you cannot communicate with them using methods they respond to. Leading effectively involves having strong communication skills with your subordinates; gives them the resources that they need in order to succeed allows you to work towards tangible goals and deadlines reasonably and cooperatively with your staff. In addition to being constantly available to talk to promptly, encourage your staff to provide their feedback on goals or tasks, and ask for their input from time to time; this will make sure they know that their opinions are appreciated and that they have a legitimate say in how business is conducted.
Along with allowing for feedback on their own work, make sure that you are able to communicate your long-term visions and goals either for a particular task, goal, or the business in general to your employees. Some individuals respond better to working towards long term goals, rather than the monotony and repetition of daily tasks; using this method is sure to remind your Workplace Zombies that the work they are doing right now will have a tangible impact in the long run.
Motivate Your Workforce: Conclusion
Consider your life figuratively saved from the horrors of the dreaded Workplace Zombie! Through the recognition of hard work and accomplished goals, serving as an appropriate example to your staff, offering flexibility and variability in your practice, and maintaining an open line of communication, your Workplace Zombies should diminished and disappear entirely in no time!
By Alisha Webb. Alisha is a British writer working out of Barcelona and content developer for The Gap partnership HK – negotiation experts. This video is a great resource on how to motivate your workforce and enhance your communication skills.