Images of the land of the dead conjure up images of empty workplaces. Visions can be deceiving as reality is sometimes distorted. This could be your workplace. This could be your chance to get it.
Is it yours, or is it mine?
It’s often difficult to see the forest for the trees. This phrase applies to many situations, and leaders will find it true. We may not see the forest for the trees in areas such as performance problems or areas of weakness. It also extends to your workplace culture.
The public availability of employee engagement statistics comes from many reliable sources and indicates a general trend in the workplace. The general direction is that 20-25% of employees are engaged and 20-25% disengaged. Others may be doing enough to not get in trouble or just flying under the radar.
I find it interesting that I receive a variety of reactions when speaking with business groups. A few brave people talk to me afterward to learn more about how to improve engagement within their teams. Many executives and owners, however, dismiss this statistic and claim that it doesn’t reflect their squad.
This may be true, as we do have exceptional leaders and teams. However, it could also mean that we have some shocking leaders or groups that are dragging down the statistics. Or leaders who don’t know how to manage their workplace culture.
They might also be delusional or believe that they cannot have a better culture because of their beliefs about people. In this article, I share my thoughts to help you become aware of signs that you could be living in the land of the working dead. You are more likely to be spotted if you have more. These are not exhaustive or complete lists. They are based on my knowledge and experience. There are many other signs, and I would love to hear about them in the comments.
Let’s get started.
1. You are the first to enter and the last one to leave.
It is not enough to be the only reason you are leaving. We need to look at the reasons why. You could be leading in the land where the working dead if you are the last one to go because you’re finishing up the tasks that were not done during the day. This could be because you’re back late finishing your team’s jobs, or you may have missed the appointment due to micro-management. Oh! We are either not productive, or we don’t prioritize creating a void that the working dead can fill.
2. You must do the job yourself if you want it done correctly.
There are two sides to this story. It could be your belief system, or it could be a behavior you actually have. If you don’t trust your team to do the job correctly, then you’re usually right. They are charging means that you must delegate to your team and help them to become the best version of themselves. You can create your own version of the working poor if you don’t trust your team. Your team is left twiddling their thumbs while you are busy getting things done.
3. They don’t listen when you tell them what to do.
This may be something you keep repeating to your superior over and over. “I told them it had to be done.” This is usually a sign that you are capable of doing the job yourself. This is the sign that you are the leader in the land where the dead work. Despite being a manager/owner, it doesn’t mean you have the power to make things happen. It’s hard to rely on positional leadership. The first level of leadership, positional, is where most leaders stop at. This is also the most challenging level of leadership. If you are the only type of leadership you have, the odds are that you will see the poor working meeting the minimum standards.
4. Stress and pressure are constants
Burnout and stress buildup can result from leading to a dead land. This could be an indicator of culture and performance in your organization.
5. Discussion is absent from meetings, but the discussion is a regular part of meetings.
All of us have been in meetings where one or two people dominate. The other members don’t speak much. If they feel their opinions are not valued, or they don’t matter, people will remain silent or withdraw. If people think this way, they are living in the land where the dead working rule. Everyone gathers together after the meeting to share their thoughts in situations where the leader is not usually present.
6. It is a terrible feeling.
Leaders who are faced with the workless are afraid. These include weekly performance measurements, difficult conversations, and visits from senior executives and peers. Tough conversations are necessary for a reason. When confronted, people who are aware they aren’t performing well can be defensive. Although the leader may be afraid of the working dead, it is not usually dead.
7. You have favorite people and hate it when they’re not there.
Great leaders are able to identify and develop the strengths of their employees. Our employee engagement statistics show that 20-25% of your team are engaged. These are the people you love working with and who are most likely to get the job done. You are likely to be in serious trouble if you hate the days when they aren’t there.
Sometimes leaders simply like their favorite people. People are favored not on their performance but other factors. This is not an excellent way to lead a group, but it’s a common practice in the land where the dead are still working.
8. Blame is inevitable. Excuses should be expected.
People are often blamed when things go wrong. VERY Often. It is always someone else’s fault. The culture of covering one’s own back becomes ingrained when blame is accepted in the workplace. This is why it’s important to stay under the radar and away from the firing line. We have fertile ground for those who refuse to take risks for fear of being blamed.
9. Feedback always feels negative
Unproductive cultures fear feedback. It is something you fear, and it is something everyone in your team fears. It may not always be positive, but it is a perception. When it is positive, it becomes apparent that you are afraid of being set up for failure. This is not a favorable environment for success.
10. Accept the status quo.
“We are not changing again?” Why can’t things stay the same? You and your team can easily hear you saying this, which is a sign that you are not in a progressive, performance-based culture. Your team and you are content with the status quo and not creating new ideas; you’re already in the performance stakes. Accepting the status quo makes it difficult to set minimum standards.
11. Talk about conflict.
Talking about tension is not a good idea. It is easy to cut through the thick air. Because they are afraid of what others will say, things get left unspoken. But when they are displayed, it is always a drama. It’s toxic and the stench from the dead.
12. It is impossible to find the time to properly coach, train, and develop your staff.
There’s always “next” Next time, and I will spend more time coaching individuals and teams and helping them improve their performance. Next time I plan to recruit the right person.
We are not able to coach or develop our employees while we wait for the next opportunity. By constantly looking for the “quick solution” in recruitment, we lose talent and fail to attract suitable candidates. We are always recruiting urgently due to our constant turnover. This is not the place you want to be.
Although identifying with these situations doesn’t automatically mean you are leading in the land where the working dead are, it does indicate that you have the potential to lead, regardless of whether or not you feel responsible. As the leader, you have to take responsibility for the situation. It is costly not to change. This should not be the norm.
Ineffective CEOs are often the ones who lose their jobs. The coach is the one who suffers when a team loses. Accepting the culture can lead to poor performance and results. It also affects the position of the leader.
Do not despair. You can make a change. Accept the situation and take control of your own actions to make a change. To motivate the dead, accept the responsibility you are responsible for as a leader.