Zombies and Vampires, Oh My!

It's the season for frightful creatures and some of these creatures are in the workplace. Perhaps you've seen the dreaded Zombie and Vampire in your office and wanted to know how to survive with these dreadful creatures lurking around.

Zombies are the living dead that are walking among us. We've all seen them in the old monster movies. I define the Zombie as the co-worker who has worked for your company for the past several years. They come to work faithfully day after day, but no one knows why they are there or what they're contributing. They hide away in a corner and only come out when they are hungry, or to complain that something isn't fair.

Vampires are a bit harder to detect. They try to mix in with the rest of us, but when you look carefully you can spot them. They are the co-workers that literally suck the life right out of you. After interacting with them you are emotionally and physically drained. They are the takers, the ones that will take your ideas and sell them off as their own. The ones that always ask for a favor and give nothing in return.

Both of these creatures want us to conform and be like them. They do their best to hold us back from being successful. They ask you, "Why do you need to be the show off and make the rest of us look bad?" "Why do you need to make changes, things are just fine the way they are." Or my least favorite, "Just keep your head down and you won't get hurt."

If you have people in your life that are robbing you of your success or draining your energy, chances are you have a Zombie or a Vampire for a co-worker. The truth is that some situations you encounter with these creatures can be fatal. So let me share a secret serum with you. After using this tried and true serum, you'll be able to sleep at night knowing you've got the vaccine to fight off their dreadful nature.

Understand the problem behavior won't go away on its own, in fact it will get worse if untreated. Just remember, "SBI" - this is the secret serum that works incredible well for controlling dreadfully contagious behavior viruses. Its best to catch these behaviors early before they are permeating throughout your organization.

Ask to meet with your co-worker and cover the following:
1. Situation - Describe the situation in detail. Talk about the facts only, don't share your emotions or how you felt. Help them recall the specific situation where this behavior occurred. Talk about what happened and what was the event.
2. Behavior - Describe their behavior that occurred during that particular situation. Again, don't share emotion or past behavior, just share the facts of this current situation and their behavior. What did they do, or say.
3. Impact - Describe how the behavior during that situation impacted you. Describe how you felt.

After discussing these three items let your co-worker know what you would like to see happen in the future. Negotiate for a win/win so that both of you can walk away with a clear path forward and with respect for one another.

My last piece of advice, if after repeatedly using this serum and there isn't a change, then scream loudly, "Run for your life!" and run away just as you would from a monster! Seriously, ask yourself what price you are willing to pay to work with Zombies and Vampires, but before you answer that question, remember these viruses can be extremely contagious.

In Need of Some Advice

I was recently asked for advice regarding how to address an issue with a boss. The boss had given her responsibility for their department’s budget. She was responsible and ready to take on this assignment. The dilemma was the boss was making commitments above the allotted budget and wasn’t communicating his actions with her. She was finding out about these commitments from other staff members. The budget was now off track due to her boss’s actions. She asked, how can I be expected to just “find the money” and how can I get him to understand this is not helping our budget? How do you suggest I discuss this with him?

I told her to schedule a meeting with her boss to provide an update on the budget. First prepare for the meeting by doing your homework. Make sure your facts are correct. Find out if anything could have changed without your knowledge. Consider the consequences of the meeting and look for an opportunity for a win/win versus telling your boss that he made a mistake. Secondly prepare for the meeting with your boss’s style in mind. Here are a few questions to help you determine your boss’s style:

1. Is he someone that wants to talk about new ideas? Is he spontaneous and has a lot of enthusiasm?
2. Is he someone that likes control and responsibility? Doe he talk in bullets and at a fast pace? Does he want the bottom line versus a story?
3. Is he someone that wants to talk about getting a consensus from others? Does he consider how his actions impact the team?
4. Is he someone that likes a lot of information and time to study and process the information? Does he like to work alone?

Thirdly, determine your approach with your boss’s style in mind. Here are a few approaches:

1. If he is someone that likes control and wants bullets and a quick summary. Or if he’s someone that has a lot of energy, is very creative and likes to talk about new ideas, don’t review an in depth budget and spreadsheet and cover each expense item with him.

Instead provide him a summary of the budget that he can quickly see the bottom line and see the budget is off track. Provide him with 3-5 reasons why (expenses approved without referring to the budget, commitments made that aren’t approved budget items, process for approval not followed, lack of communication regarding expenditures, etc.) Talk about the process instead of “you approved these expenses and you didn’t follow the process.” If he wants more details, he will ask you. Then you can mention the exact cost item and he will know he was the one that approved it and how it has affected the bottom line. Ask him for his advice to correct the budget issue. Then be quiet and wait for his direction.

2. If he is someone that likes a lot of information, likes to work alone spending time doing research and gathering more information to solidify and cement his point of view, then take the time to review an in depth budget and cover each expense item with him on the spreadsheet. Be prepared to discuss each item at length. Know the history and details. Once you have completed this review he will probably want time to process the information. He’ll want to crunch his own numbers and gather more information to verify accuracy. Follow up in a day or two. During the second meeting he will know without a doubt what needs to be done and why things are in the state they are in. Ask him what needs to be done to resolve the budget overage.

3. If he is someone that wants to connect with his direct reports and understands how he impacts the team. Make it easy for him to be straightforward. Show interest in him as an individual. Begin the conversation on a casual topic. Then go into the business conversation. Tell him you want to talk about the goal he assigned you regarding managing the budget and that you have some concerns. Let him know that you take this goal seriously and that you want to do a good job for him and the company. Be caring and sensitive. Let him know what actions have taken place causing the budget to be off track. Then ask him for advice and be quiet. Wait for him to think and process the issue. Sit in the silence and wait for his queue. He will see what needs to be corrected to keep the budget on track.

Here’s her response:

Hi Peggy,

This was very helpful. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to send this. Our discussion went well and he even apologized for not keeping me in the loop.

Thanks again!