I Was a Corporate Zombie
I was a corporate zombie. There it is. Written on the World Wide Web for all to read. An admission of guilt. I don’t recall how it happened. I’m not even sure I realized it was happening at the time. But I very clearly remember thinking to myself that I didn’t care. I was apathetic.
I worked for a management consulting firm. We had quarterly firm-wide calls – some might call them townhalls or all hands meetings – where leadership shared the financial picture and talked about other topics they felt were important for us to hear about. They tried to make these calls entertaining and engaging – doing quizzes or other games to give away schwag.
And I was supposed to care. I had stock in the company. I was a leader myself. They were talking about the state of the company and the direction we were going in. And I did everything I could to avoid them. It got to the point where I would call in, make sure my name showed up on the list, then go about my business doing other stuff and completely ignore the meeting in progress.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I tried to get others on “my side”. I would talk to my colleagues and question them on why they were wasting their time. I would judge them, sometimes silently, other times joking outwardly with them. I would disparage the leadership and their lame attempts at making the meetings fun or crack on the bad jokes they offered. Again, I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. But looking back – I was poisoning the well. I wasn’t just disengaged; I was actively disengaged and trying to get others on board with me.
It’s embarrassing to admit that I let it get that far. Being a leader, I could have or should have found a way to have a voice, a way to prevent things from getting that bad. I could argue I didn’t see it happening, that it happened so gradually that by time I realized it, I couldn’t find a way back. Little things that grew and festered. Small frustrations that turned into annoyances. Ideas ignored because that’s not how we do things. It all added up to me being a corporate zombie.
At that point, I left that company. And lucky for that company, I was gone. Imagine how much more damage I could have done if I had stayed and continued to spread my apathy and bad attitude among my colleagues. There could have been a corporate zombie apocalypse! And while I would not have led that charge, I would have absolutely been a party to it.
I think most of us can look back on our careers and find that zombie moment. Do you know how it happened for you? Were you aware it was happening? Could it have been prevented?
Where in your company is it happening right now? Because you can bet that it is. There’s an apocalypse coming if you don’t take steps to understand and prevent your employees from turning into corporate zombies.
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