Category Archives: My Blog Posts

You’re A Great Friend But If The Zombies Chase Us, I’m Tripping You!

Zombies ahead!

I attended a coaching workshop on Friday and I especially liked a portion of the workshop that talked about outcomes of various management styles. When we started white boarding we brainstormed the outcome of what happens when a manager tells, advises, and directs.

We came up with the following list for when managers direct/tells/advises:

  • Compliance
  • Little ownership
  • Zombies
  • Submissiveness
  • Employees who want to be told what to do

We next discussed the outcome of what happens when management listens and came up with another list:

  • Employees that are self motivated
  • Employee that come up with creative solutions
  • Employees who have increased performance
  • Employees who show ownership

Now after reviewing the outcomes above, can you guess which response Jeremy came up with?  If you guessed zombies you’re a winner.  I really said it and I really mean it and the purpose of this post is to discuss what I mean about the “zombie effect” in the workplace.  Wikipedia defines a zombie as “a creature that appears in books and popular culture typically as a reanimated dead or a mindless human being”.  The scary thing is you are likely working with zombies and you may not even know it.  Zombies that become infected with the zombie virus don’t bite a victim who then suddenly becomes infected.  Instead, I’d argue that employees become zombies over the course of weeks, months, and even years.  When it comes to the zombie effect, ignore everything you’ve seen in comics or movies.

I’m an animal lover so know that no frogs were harmed in the making of the video (wait until the very end).  Even though no frogs are harmed it is still a bit disturbing but if you know anything about me you know I like to help illustrate my point via multimedia examples.  I’m a more of a visual learner and if you are too I think you will be equally fascinated by the video below of a frog in a pan of water.  If you don’t have the heart to watch the video, you’re a better person than I am (I watched it).  At the start of the video the frog sits calmly in a pan of room temperature water but the person performing the demonstration slowly turns up the gas burner beneath the pan.  Because the temperature is slowly increased, the frog doesn’t notice the temperature increasing.  Eventually the water starts to boil and the frog dies as a result.  Organizations who do not listen of course aren’t going to say they don’t listen their employees but if they continually ignore the danger around them, eventually bad things happen.

Now that we’ve seen what can happen to zombie employees you of course want to avoid them which begs the question: “how can you tell if you work with zombies, or worse, decide if you’re a zombie employee yourself?”

If you want to spot zombies in your organization, look for these common signs:

  • An employee who walks like someone three times their age into work and half their age walking out of work
  • An employee who answers every question you ask of them with “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure”
  • An employee who responds to an answer of why something is done a certain way with “I just work here”
  • An employee with eyes which are constantly glazed over
  • An employee who struggles with being punctual

When I said not listening to employees and always directing them produces zombie employees the response in the class was laughter.  Why do you think they laughed?  I’d argue they laughed because in today’s workplace we have become accustomed to calling things by their politically correct names.  When that doesn’t occur it catches people off guard.  Therefore, you likely haven’t heard of zombies in an organization, you may have heard terms like employees being unmotivated, disengaged, or even being under-performing. Corporations are big ships so change happens slowly.  Very few employees/managers/leaders in an organization stop to ask themselves: “hey, is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?”.   If organizations aren’t doing pulse checks an organization can start losing its focus and ultimately lose its employees and customers.

Source: http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/12/braindeath_by_m.html

The zombie function is simple, the more you micromanage the employee, the less the employee will think for themselves.  The theory says “the more you use your reins, the less they’ll use their brains.”  If you’ve ever been micromanaged you know how it can feel to have someone constantly looking over your shoulder.  Leaders who don’t trust their employees tend to constantly focus on where their employees are as opposed to the output they are producing.

Inc. Magazine has an article by John Case titled “The Open-Book Revolution” where he defines open book management as “a way of running a company which gets everyone to focus on helping the business make money.”  Leaders often feel threatened when associates they manage think of better ideas than their own so they instead choose to make decisions in isolation.  In doing so, leaders who choose to not get input and feedback are creating zombies.  Additionally many leaders feel they know best so they don’t trust their employees to make decisions.  Furthermore they micromanage them to make sure everything is done exactly as they would want it done.  Don’t get me wrong, employees do need to be overseen and guided.  I merely argue that few employees are given proper responsibility and training for that responsibility.  They are also not set free and held accountable for what they were hired to do which is producing results (within an agreed upon timeframe).  When the idea or decision is eventually communicated without involvement of others in the organization, what typically tends to happen is associates learn to stop questioning, stop thinking, stop caring.  When they stop those behaviors they simply start doing as instructed.  They become a zombie.

You can cure a zombie in the workplace by doing the following things:

  • Training
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Listening
  • Changing things or responding when needed.

Whenever possible of course be honest, be a good communicator, keep information you receive confidential, and conduct team building exercises.  We know zombies can spread their disease to others and when it does we also know it can spread to customers so cure the problem within your organization before it is too late!

So now you know the warning signs, if you see one, or if you are one, get help or help yourself!  Do you have any thoughts on zombies in the workplace?

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The Current State Of Fashion

I went to the mall in San Francisco this afternoon to help my girlfriend pick out some outfits for work and was surprised at what Nordstroms is putting on mannequins these days.  What is going through retailer’s minds when they dress these mannequins?  Do retailers think this is what people want to buy and wear, or is their strategy simply a marketing gimmick?  The outfit on the right is half decent, but what is going on with the one on the left?

Even though outfits put on display can be outrageous, what people are actually buying these days tends to be pretty tame.  This topic led to an entire discussion on what the current state of fashion really is.  I think we are living in a time where people really do have a good sense of fashion, and I’d actually say people are dressing more “normal” than any point in the last 30 years.  I know we really can’t define normal but in 20 years if we look back at fashion’s current state will we be able to define it?  How would you describe our current state of fashion?

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Angels and Demons

angelDevil

My blog has a ton of topics and many people have asked why I don’t spin off sites dedicated to each topic and the answer is basically because I like the freedom of being able to write about whatever I like which is an advantage or disadvantage depending on how similar your interests are with mine.  Not to mention all of my posts are in one place so for selfish reasons if something comes up in conversation I can easily point myself or others to the site.

With this post I just added another topic to talk about which is religion.  In our Bible study last week the topic was “Getting the Demons out of the Closet“.  What I want to throw out to the world as a question is why are demons so prevalent in our society and why does it seem like they are more prevalent than angels?  OK what I just said is a major statement so let me explain what I mean with an example.  If you are like me you watch a few hours of TV a week (I probably watch somewhere around 5-10 hours).  All over television are shows about ghosts and depending on your religion (I’m Christian), ghosts may mean something different to you but in the Christian church they are considered demons.  If you have ever watched Ghost Hunters on TV you have seen and heard what appear to be ghosts in dark abandoned buildings. The shows freak me out and I can’t watch them.

What is interesting to note is I would estimate at least 60% of the people you survey in any group would say they have encountered a ghost.  In the first house I owned I saw things happen that I can not explain.  For instance I saw blinds suddenly shake back and fourth and just as suddenly stop where there were no cats or air vents around.  I saw doors open and close on their own.  I saw fan blades spin out of nowhere, I could go on but I think you understand my point which is something was occurring I couldn’t explain.  Now whatever that thing was or wasn’t, I didn’t ask for it to be there if it was what I think it was.  Seeing those things happen scared me because as humans we are used to being able to defend ourselves from harm but when it is something you can’t physically harm by yourself, it really gets your attention

Now in our study we were given the following outline (note this is an excerpt):

What is a Demon?

  1. They are a Spirit (Matt 8:16 & Luke 10:17&20)
  2. They are physically limited (Matt 8:28-34 & Acts 16:16)
  3. They are intelligent (Mark 1:24, 1 Tim 4:1, Matt 8:29)
  4. They are powerful ( Mark 5:3-4, Matt 9:22&32, Matt 15:22)


What can they do?

  1. They can inflict disease (Luke 13:11, 2 Cor 12:7-10)
  2. Influence the mind (Gen 3:1-5, 2 Cor 4:4, 2 Cor 11:3 & 5, Phil 4:6-8)
  3. Deceive people (1 Thess 3:5, Eph 2:2, Matt 13:19)
  4. Deceive nations – (Rev 16:14)

Casper-Friendly-Ghost-3
Is Casper really a friendly ghost?  In cartoonland he may be but in real life that isn’t the case.  So my question is why don’t we see more angels and why does it seem easier to contact and apparently see evidence of a demon?  Ideally you would want the opposite which is it is easier to see the Holy Spirit or an angel but not a demon but that doesn’t seem to be the case or am I wrong?  In 1st Samuel (28: 4-25), there is an example of a witch summoning Samuel but did the witch actually Summon Samuel or was it a demon pretending to be Samuel?  I’d imagine the reason we don’t have angels in our lives is we are supposed to pray and provide our focus on Jesus and not angels.  In 1st Samuel you see an example of that where Saul says God turned against him so he summoned the dead for advice instead which is obviously not what we are to do.  What do you all think?  Leave your comments below. Thanks…

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What Do Chameleons & Bob Shiefer Have in Common? Nothing

How awesome is that video?  Some people seem to have a chameleon tendency and to some degree I think I tend to be pretty good at acclimating to my environment.  I’m not a big ABC or Fox news person and tend to watch (well record) the CBS Evening News every night to try and stay up to date with what is going on in the world.  Prior to Katie Couric doing the news it was Bob Schieffer and I have to say I really liked him.  He seemed to be a genuine guy and this will probably make you laugh but my favorite thing about Mr. Schieffer is the man knows how to pick out and wear a tie.  Unlike the chameleon who emulates his/her environment, Mr. Shiefer wears the brightest and most bold ties which seems uncharacteristic of his generation.  He ocassionally is a special correspondent now and I think he does Face the Nation which I don’t watch, but next time you see him on TV check out his tie choices.

cbs_schieffer_photo

My favorite thing to wear outside of work is a plain gray t-shirt and for as long as I can remember it has always been that way.  Simon Cowell likes his black shirts and frankly I like mine gray.  Slowly over time I’m transitioning out of that but ironically as I write this I’m wearing a plain gray t-shirt.  I tend to wear lots of earth tones but when I have to dress up for work my favorite thing to wear is a white shirt with a bright red tie followed by a blue shirt with a yellow tie.  If you look at the psychology of colors wearing red apparently means that I am “full of energy. Red ties are usually worn by outgoing personality types. It shines full of optimism and it increases enthusiasm. The brighter the red the more emotionally intense it is. Wearing a darker red tie, such as burgundy or maroon, is more conservative. They are popular ties for politicians for example.”  To see what personality type you are according to your favorite tie color click here.

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Screencast: How to Subscribe to Your Favorite Web Sites

Few people know about RSS or if they have heard about it they don’t know what it does or how to set it up.  In my first screencast I wanted to show you how to subscribe to your favorite websites and have them delivered to your RSS reader.  RSS enables you to subscribe to sites so you don’t have to continually check and see what updates were made to the site.  Instead the new content is delivered to you.  A big shout out to Scott for showing me the beauty that is Google.  I was a huge Yahoo! fan but Scott converted me over and I haven’t looked back since.  In true Jeremy form I wanted to share with the world what I’ve learned so let me know what you think.

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